Australia's ad spend canary hit the end of 2019 exhausted and underweight.
Media agency bookings fell 5.3% to $6.8 billion over the 12 months to December, according to SMI (Standard Media Index) numbers.
Analysts pointed to an "unexpectedly difficult" December quarter with bookings dropping 7.9% over the three months.
The final month of the year saw ad spend down 6.9%, marking December as the 16th month in a row to see bookings fall.
All major media reported lower December quarter and calendar year 2019 bookings.
However, outdoor and cinema show higher ad spend for the month of December (up 4.3% and 19.5% respectively).
Total digital bookings for the year were down 0.9%.
However, total bookings for the larger digital publishers were collectively 5.8% higher while spend to long tail websites fell 35%.
Automotive spend dropped 7.6% over 2019.
Retail bookings fell 5.2% and domestic bank ad spend dropped 11.6%.
Insurance has become Australia’s third largest category after growing 12.5% this year. Restaurants lifted their media investment by 7.7%.
Jane Ractliffe, SMI’s AU/NZ managing director, says forward booking data, which shows the future value of actual confirmed ad spend, provides a more positive outlook.
The value of Australian agency expenditure for February is already at 79% of the total achieved in February 2018.
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