SMI - Ad spend slides again as brands stay 'cautious'

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 1 May 2024
Credit: Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Advertising spend, as measured by media agency bookings, continued to slide, falling 6.6% fall in March, with some drag due to an early Easter.

Most analysts had expected a weaker start to 2024, seeing more upside in the second half of the year with an expected improvement in economic conditions.

However, the latest SMI (Standard Media Index) results show the Australian advertising market behind growth in the US and Canada, both of which reported their third consecutive month of growth. The US was up 4.5% in March and Canada 2%.

In Australia, the SMI for March recorded television down 14.6% but with cinema up 46% and outdoor media 0.5% higher.

Only the government and auto brand categories lifted their Australian media investment by more than $5 million in March.

"It seems as though most marketers are adopting a more cautious approach to their ad budgets in the first half of this year,’’ said SMI APAC managing director Jane Ractliffe.

"March demand was at least in part impacted by the timing of Easter (last year the holiday was entirely in April), but even so we saw only 35% of categories grow investment and at least some would also be waiting to see how the market evolves after the July Olympics.’’

Ractliffe said the growth in Government ad spend in Australia this month (+36%) was mostly due to the Tasmanian election, but that growth was offset by large declines in ad spend from the communications and travel categories.

The latest result pushed Australian March quarter bookings back 3.7%. However, outdoor is reporting a record level of first quarter ad spend (+1.4%) , Digital (+2.7%) and Cinema (+8.4%).

The March 2024 SMI numbers:
smi march 2024

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