SYDNEY: Australian media agency adspend declined 8.1% year-on-year to $425.3m in January 2018, according to new interim results from Standard Media Index (SMI).

The measurement firm described the start of the year as “cautious”, although it noted there had been an unusually high level of late digital bookings that month because large numbers of agency staff had taken time off.

There was also one less Sunday in January 2018 compared to the same time last year, SMI AU/NZ Managing Director Jane Ratcliffe told Mumbrella.

The lull in January meant that overall digital ad bookings declined 20.1% compared with January 2017, according to SMI’s interim figures, while the overall radio category, including digital radio, saw a decline of 3.6%.

However, print magazines were the worst hit in January, with bookings falling 42.5%. Magazines’ digital properties also suffered a 40.5% year-on-year decline, while newspapers witnessed falls of 36.4% in print and 27.6% in digital.

On a more positive note, cinema adspend jumped 37.9% from January 2017 to January 2018, while television climbed 1.3% overall and outdoor grew by 0.3%.

SMI also highlighted the strong performance of television in metropolitan markets, which climbed 5.1% to record its best January result in three years.

In addition, the SMI data revealed that two state elections helped push up government adspend by 13.8% to $14.6m, while a number of major sporting events, such as the Ashes, Australian Open and Big Bash, raised gambling adspend by 29% to $13m.

Elsewhere, SMI revealed falling advertising demand from retailers – retail ad bookings were down 15.5% in January – and an even greater decline in travel bookings, which were down 18% year-on-year.

“The overall retail figure masks ongoing growth in adspend from discount stores and online retailers who have collectively grown their January spend by 32% to $6.7m to emerge as the second-largest retail sub category,” Ratcliffe said.

“And interestingly, most of that extra media investment is being directed to television, with those advertisers more than doubling their TV ad spend to $3.6m to give TV 55% of the category’s total investment. In contrast, these advertisers spent just 26% of their media budgets on digital in January.”

Sourced from SMI, Mumbrella; additional content by WARC staff