SYDNEY: December was a disappointing month for the Australian advertising industry as spending fell back almost 6% and left the annual total virtually unchanged from 2013.

New data covering spending by major media agencies, compiled by Standard Media Index and reported by Mumbrella, showed that advertisers spent $533.2m in December 2014 compared to $565.8m in December 2013.

Even though expenditure had grown over the first eleven months of the year, this was enough to wipe out the accumulated increase and leave overall annual spending down 0.1% at $7,487m.

One noteworthy development was that outdoor spending overtook newspapers for the first time during December, with $71m going there compared to just $60m on newspapers.

Over the full year, metro newspapers saw the greatest decline (-16%), losing $95m of display advertising revenue. Regional newspapers fared better but were still down 3.2% for the year.

Mumbrella suggested that newspapers will probably be overtaken by outdoor during the course of 2015. The former's share of the market has fallen back from 12.1% in 2013 to 10.4% in 2014, while that of outdoor has climbed from 8.8% to 9.7%.

Television continues to take the lion's share of advertising expenditure, accounting for 47.2% of the total, although this was down from 48.8% in 2013.

Meanwhile, digital's share rose from 17.4% to 20.1%, helped by increased programmatic buying: spending in advertising exchanges rose $52m to $175m for the year.

Among the remaining media, radio's share edged upwards from 7.3% to 7.5%, that of magazines slipped from 3.9% to 3.5%, and, on 0.8%, cinema failed to maintain its 1.0% high of 2013.

In terms of industry sectors, only speciality retail recorded any growth during December, up $1.5m to $31.05m. The general retail sector registered a significant decline on the previous year, down $9.5m to $53.5m.

Of the other major categories, automotive fell $2.1m to $62.8m, while food and alcohol dropped $7.5m to $33.4m for the month.

Data sourced from Mumbrella; additional content by Warc staff