Record March quarter as ad demand lifts 2.8%

Australia’s media agency market is thriving post COVID, reporting record levels of advertising demand for both the March quarter and financial year-to-date periods while also positioning itself for further growth into April and May.

The growth trend also continued into March, with the value of ad spend for that month lifting 2.8% as the Digital, Cinema and Radio media all delivered strong gains. Although the March total was not at the same levels seen in March 2018 and 2019, the increase continued the consistent monthly growth reported in this market over the past year.

And Standard Media Index’s Forward Pacings data shows more gains are expected in April, with early spend (ex-Digital) only 2.6% below April 2021 levels with a week’s left of trading yet to be included.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said the result reflected the strong level of consistency now evident in the market following the huge disruptions during the COVID period.


“Australia’s ad market has not only been rebuilding since COVID, but it’s also entered a new period of stability as there’s been year-on-year growth in monthly ad spend for 14 consecutive months and only one month of negative ad spend in 17 months,” she said.

“It really is an extraordinary turnaround from the dark days in mid-2020 when the impact of the COVID pandemic was at its peak. Now the ad market has followed the economy in learning to live with COVID and that ensures more certainly for all media stakeholders.”

Given the ongoing growth, Ractliffe said SMI was reporting a 9.4% increase in ad spend over the March quarter, with the value of ad spend to the TV media up 2.2%, Digital ad spend up 19.2% and Outdoor bookings up 8.7%.

That has also ensured the market’s value over the financial year-to-date is at a record level, with the total up 14.2% to move through the $6 billion mark for the first time.

Digital remains the largest media having lifted FY ad spend by 24.2% (mostly driven by higher bookings to the Search and Social Media sectors), while Outdoor bookings have grown 11.9% and TV ad spend is up 7.4%.

More detail on the latest ad spend trends is available in the tables below:

SMI details how ad dollars are being spent. Its Australian data covers more than 98% of all agency spend and SMI works with media agencies in more than 15 global markets.

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