Media agencies on the frenzy in television ad spend

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 8 April 2021

Media agencies see the resurgence of television ad spend continuing as brands seek to grow market share and presence.

The SMI (Standard Media Index) numbers for February show overall TV ad spend up 8.5%, or $18 million, for the month.

Metropolitan TV growth was 12%, underpinned by a delayed Australian Open broadcast, shifted from January.

The latest numbers see TV ad spend rise again after falling in January due to delayed live sport broadcasts. The metropolitan TV market, the largest media sector, then reported a 5.3% fall in bookings.

In February, the overall market, as defined by media agency bookings, fell 2.6% to $557.9 million

The next round of SMI numbers will report strong growth because they will be compared to March 2020, when the impact of the pandemic started to take hold.

“SMI recorded the largest declines in history in April and May 2020 so the prior year comparisons are very easy and we’re expecting very strong double digit advertising market growth for all media in those months,’’ says SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe.

“The only question will be where advertisers allocate their increased ad spend across the media, so subscribers to our Forward Pacings data will have a key competitive advantage as they get an early view of product category ad spend and will be able to direct their sales teams to the categories showing the strongest demand.’’

Ben Willee. GM and media director, Spinach, says the pandemic has provided an opportunity for many marketers to reassess their activities and this is reflected in recent trends.

“There is a lot of evidence to suggest that video formats are very powerful because they include sight, sound and movement,” he told AdNews. “Therefore it’s no surprise that TV and digital video formats are performing well.

“Next month we’ll be circling some pretty terrible numbers from last year so it won’t take much to show significant growth in March.

“Diminishing airtime availability in TV will drive revenue to other broadcast/high reach mediums like outdoor and radio.”

Joel Trethowan, managing director, Alchemy One: “While government and economic factors, such as the end of JobKeeper, will have kept many consumers awake, we see our clients looking beyond the short term and are committed to using media as an important lever to grow brand, and drive market share in the long term.

“Heading out of Easter, we expect momentum to continue beyond digital and TV, and into channels such as radio and OOH, as people continue to return to work and play environments - with contingencies built into plans.”

Sam Buchanan, general manager Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA): “Members of the IMAA have continued to recover faster than the wider market.

“While some advertisers are still slightly hesitant, it has not affected their advertising appetite – rather, it has created a shorter-term market. The overall outlook is extremely positive.”

Anthony Ellis, MD of Publicis Media Exchange, says the ad market is rebounding well as advertisers seek to capitalise on the strength of Australian consumer confidence, impressively now sitting at an almost-ten-year high.

"Linear TV ad revenues across the January-February period have been buoyant, however internally we are tracking all growth against a 2019 baseline," he says. "From this point of view, growth doesn’t look quite as strong – metro TV is currently level with 2019.

"That said, the immense and ongoing growth in BVOD consumption gives us cause for optimism. We do expect revenues generated by BVOD advertising to grow at pace. Indeed, as we have done for some time now, we expect digital advertising in all its forms to lead the way in terms of advertising revenue growth.

"In the meantime, the channels making a slower recovery due to physical restrictions (outdoor, cinema), do continue to make strides in the right direction. Although these channels are heavily impacted by global forces, they are rebounding locally already.

"For advertisers, there are a number of implications. A cluttered marketplace renders engagement and cut-through ever more important, and high demand makes early access and timely sign-off critical to mitigating inflation. As always, getting the right balance between efficiency and effectiveness is paramount."

Steven King, partner, Frontier Australia: "The big story here is that TV is well and truly leading the market recovery, while most other media are still in negative territory. 

"Our view is that the demand for media in the coming months will start to spread to these other channels that have been hit hard. 

"In many respects, it’s a confidence game. As confidence grows with consumers and with businesses, the appetite to invest in media will return. Just overnight, the IMF bullishly forecast the Australian economy to grow by 4.5% this year - this would be a spectacular result, considering where we were 12 months ago." 


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