After ‘astonishing’ Q2 drop, ad spend shows signs of growth: SMI

The bad news, according to ad intelligence firm Standard Media Index, is that the pandemic hit Q2 ad spend even worse than initially thought. The low point came in April and May, which saw declines of up to 40%.

“The good news is the worst is over and across all markets we’re reporting lower declines and also the first signs of market growth,’’ said SMI CEO James Fennessy.

Based on spending data collected from multinational and independent media agencies in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada from April to June, SMI’s latest report found that spending spending fell by an “astonishing” 37.1% in the period. The drop was most pronounced in Canada (-46.5%), while the smallest decline was in the U.S. (30.5%).

Source: Standard Media Index

SMI said that the downturn has “quickly accelerated” since it began tracking the impact of the pandemic in March, but suggested that the worst of the crisis might be over, with lower rates of decline across all markets.

SMI said that major TV and digital have proven the most resilient media, with out-of-home, radio and print experiencing a collective decline of 57.1% in Q2. Digital recorded the lowest declines in all five markets, 26.6%, while TV spending fell 36.5%.

Fennessy said that TV and digital are the likeliest media to emerge from the crisis in better shape, noting that both have enjoyed audience growth during the pandemic. U.S. data for August is already suggesting that TV is stabilizing, he said, while early August data from Australia and New Zealand show that it is delivering the lowest year-on-year declines of any major media.

The company said that the pandemic has affected countries in similar fashion, with advertising by travel-related companies falling by more than 80% in five measures markets, and the entertainment and clothing/apparel categories also reporting similar levels of decline.

There are some market by market variances, however, with the pharmaceutical category growing in the U.S. and spending in the household supplies and health care categories growing in Australia. Spending across the government and financial services categories grew in New Zealand, as did technology advertising.

Fennessy said that early Q3 data suggests stronger ad spend in the CPG and financial services categories in most countries. “There is still immense caution in the business community, but these category trends show there remains a willingness to spend on personal goods and smart advertisers are moving to capitalize on those demands,’’ he said.

Chris Powell