SMI - Advertising dips in March as government spend falls by half

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 2 May 2023
Credit: Iker Urteaga via Unsplash

Advertising spend, as defined by media agency bookings, fell 5.5% in March, according to the SMI (Standard Media Index).

However, the dip compares to a record breaking month in 2022 and shows a sharp fall in government spend.

With the impact of government spend removed, the underlying dip in advertising revenue was 1.5% in March.

"It’s likely we’ve never before seen a single category have such a profound impact on the market, either positively or negatively, but COVID was a one-off global event and we are clearly still experiencing its effect in the ad market," says Jane Ractliffe, managing director of SMI in AUNZ.

Government ad spend fell by 52.7% in March, taking $31 million from the market, and in the March quarter the category’s decline is 47.5%, removing $73.5 million.

The ad spend cliff from government impacted spend across categories, including digital media falling 31% in March and TV down 54.7%.

Radio ad spend fell 70.3%. 

With the impact of government ad spend removed, digital revenues are back just 4.7%,TV bookings down  9.4% (and with BVOD included is -7.4%) and for radio the 14% decline becomes -3.5% and then -2.7% with digital audio included.

Outdoor, despite the lower government bookings, delivered the best result among all media in March with total bookings lifting a healthy 18.5% (and by 31.2% with government removed).

SMI also recorded strong growth from traditionally the largest product categories with retail ad spend up 18.2%, automotive brand bookings up 11.7% and travel ad spend growing 32.9%.

"The underlying strength of the market is evident in the fact that even with Government ad spend included the value of ad spend from the ten largest categories has grown 0.1% in March, highlighting the fact that the lower ad demand is mostly coming from the smaller product categories," Ractliffe said.

smi march 2023

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