HONG KONG: Advertising expenditure in Hong Kong fell to HK$3.3bn in March as the industry witnessed a significant decline in campaign spending by some traditionally high-spending sectors, a new report has revealed.

According to the latest data from admanGo, a local advertising monitoring firm, that meant adspend in Hong Kong declined for the third consecutive month in March, South China Morning Post reported.

It also compared unfavourably with the HK$3.8bn spent by advertisers in March 2015 and translated to a fall of 13% during the first quarter to HK$9.4bn, down from HK$10.8bn for the same period last year.

There was a steep decline in spending by the cosmetics and skincare sector, which allocated HK$163.1m to advertising in March, or 44% less than a year ago.

Banking and investment services, another important sector, also cut its adspend significantly in March to HK$324m, representing a 24% year-on-year decrease.

"Following the first double-digit drop in advertising spending recorded in 16 years in the first two months of this year, the advertising market continued to shrink last month," noted Jennifer Ma, director at admanGo.

She said that all media, with the exception of radio, experienced a year-on-year decrease in ad expenditure last month, while free newspapers appeared to be the hardest hit after seeing a 27% drop in adspend from the banking sector.

Newspapers and TV continued to attract the highest proportion of advertising dollars, at 31% and 29% respectively, followed by outdoor (14%), mobile and online (13%), magazines (9%) and radio (4%).

These latest downbeat findings sit in stark contrast to predictions made earlier this year that there would be modest growth in 2016.

As recently as February, a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Advertisers Association and research firm Nielsen suggested 29% of the 100 top marketers in the territory planned to increase their adspend this year.

A further 35% said they would keep budgets unchanged, although 36% said they would cut their ad investment. It was also expected that marketers would allocate more of their resources to digital and mobile campaigns than in any previous year.

Data sourced from South China Morning Post, Marketing Interactive; additional content by Warc staff