The winners from Australia's changing election advertising spend mix

By Chris Pash | 3 June 2019

The latest SMI (Standard Media Index) numbers show a marked change in where ad dollars go in the lead up to a federal election.

The proportion going to television, while still the biggest for ad spend at the federal election, shrunk this election year in favour of radio and newspapers. 

Advertising in the SMI's Political Parties/Industry Associations/Union category jumped by $16.3 million to $18 million in April. 

While Television still gets the largest share, some of the largest gains were in the Press and Radio categories and those gains ensured those media were the only two reporting year-on-year growth in April. 

The final numbers from the SMI index show Australia's media agency market falling overalll by 7.6% in April with underlying advertising spend at $522 million. 

This is an improvement on widely reported preliminary numbers showed the index down 18.1% for the month compared to a record April in 2018.

However, April was still the seventh month in a row the media agency market has reported lower bookings

SMI AU/NZ Managing Director Jane Ractliffe says SMI’s move to create a political category gives the market its first view of ad spend for an election compared to the previous national poll. 

The data shows a 20.8% decline in spending from this political group on major media in the lead up to the 2019 Election compared to 2016. 

"There’s also been significant changes as to where this group allocates its media spend, with Television’s total reducing in favour of higher spending on Radio, Newspapers and the Digital media," she says.  

She says this is the first time SMI has been able to clearly show how the collective media shares of these advertisers have changed. 

Apart from the reduced advertising expenditure, there’s also been a significant change in the media mix, with Television losing share to Radio (up 16.9%), with gains to Digital (up 9.8%) and Press (up 79%). 

Advertisers tracked in the category include the state and federal offices of the Liberal and Labor parties, the Greens, the Nationals, Centre Alliance and various union campaigns. 

It does not include ad spend for Clive Palmer’s UAP in either period as that party purchased all advertising directly from media groups. He is reported have have spent as much as $60 million since September last year. 

Here's how the ad spent has changed between elections in 2016 and 2019:

smi political apr 2019

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