SMI - Ad spend up 2.1% in March, outdoor bookings strengthen

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 3 May 2021

Ad spend grew 2.1% in March with strong digital and television, according to consolidated media agency bookings. 

The growth trend continues with SMI (Standard Media Index) numbers showing early bookings for April and May growing more than 20% from last year’s COVID-affected months. 

Oudoor media is showing support as it rises from the slump of the pandemic. 

"We’re now heading into unchartered territory as we’ve never before seen such huge growth in ad spend and expect to be reporting record levels of growth over the next few months, but of course it’s coming from an extremely low base,’’says SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe.

The March result came after a large $116 million surge in late digital bookings, giving digital the strongest growth rate this month at 15.6%.

Programmatic media jumped 28%, social media ad spend rose 20.1% and search bookings were up 16.5%.

Broadcast TV was 7.2% higher and radio grew by 0.2%.

smi march 2021

Forward Bookings detail shows the stronger demand continuing with early April data up 20% (ex digital).

Outdoor bookings are already up 9.4% in April and radio ad spend 16.6% higher.

Ractliffe says May already has total confirmed ad spend just $900,000 below last year’s total.

"The numbers are mind-boggling," she says.

Early April numbers are already showing Food/Produce/Dairy advertisers growing budgets by 68% over last April, while the Home Furnishing/Appliances category is already up 129% in the early data and Gambling ad spend is up 162%. 

Ractliffe says outdoor’s return to growth in April was especially pleasing given it has been the media that’s been the most affected by COVID.

Retail Outdoor ad spend was already up 22%, street furniture bookings up 5% and outdoor transit 39% higher.

The metropolitan radio market will also book a huge April result with early ad spend data up 28%.

SMI’s March data was notable for the world’s first view of programmatic outdoor ad spend with data collected from media agencies either booking spend via outdoor third parties or demand side platforms.


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