SMI - May ad spend smashes through pre-COVID levels

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 1 July 2021

Ad spend as measured by media agency bookings passed pre-COVID levels in May, with about $300 million in extra  investment pumped into the market, according to the latest data from SMI (Standard Media Index).

Total ad spend was up 70.8% in May compared to the same month in the 2020 pandemic year and was 4.5%, or $30.7 million, higher than May 2019 

The result is based on data that’s been normalised to account for the federal election in May 2019 by removing political party category ad spend from both reporting periods.

The May data is the fourth month of ad spend growth in a row and the highest May total since 2016. 

All major media reported growth in May, with television and digital back to pre-COVID levels. 

"This level of growth is clearly unprecedented," says SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe.

"It’s safe to say that none of us will ever see such extraordinary levels of growth again.

"It’s really quite a remarkable turnaround given the disastrous results reported at this time last year.’’

Ractliffe says the strong ad demand will continue in June.

SMI’s Forward Pacings data showing the value of confirmed June ad spend (ex digital) is already 36.4% above that reported in June 2020.

Outdoor reported a 198% increase in year-on-year growth in May. The trend is continuing into June with Outdoor’s ad spend already 90% above that reported in June 2020. 

The May outdoor ad spend is just $6 million below the pre-COVID May 2019. 

The key Retail, Food/Produce/Dairy, Insurance and Restaurants categories all growing their media budgets above May 2019 levels.

The Travel category emerged as the fastest growing in May, with total bookings jumping $31.3 million from May 2020 levels.

The media investment by Travel advertisers went from $4 million in May 2020 to $36.3 million this month, and that total is not far off from the $44 million spent in May 2019.

"The category’s ad spend is quickly recovering to the point where it’s been restored as the market’s sixth largest category this month,’’ says Ractliffe.

Among other key SMI ad spend trends for May was the emergence of the Social Media sector as digital’s second largest for the first time.

In outdoor the Programmatic Outdoor sector broke through the $1 million/month revenue mark for the first time.

The stronger May results pushed Australian ad spend this calendar year up 20.1% on last year while the financial year-to-date results have nturned positive, up 2.9%.

smi may 2021

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