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News 10 Jan 2022 - 4 min read

Australian ad spend pre-Omicron wave hit new record of $852m in November: SMI

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer
Jane Ractliffe from SMI says September ad spend was high

SMI AU/NZ Managing Director Jane Ractliffe.

In the weeks before the onset of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Australia’s advertising market reached a new peak: $852 million spent by brands in a single month. Interestingly, digital ad spend overtook traditional television for the sixth time - after a big surge in TV spend last year began to cool. 

What you need to know:

  • The advertising industry reached a new record high in November 2021, new figures from Standard Media Index show, hitting $852m.
  • That figure is 1.5 per cent ahead of November 2020’s $840m. The first five months of the 2021/22 financial year show a “spectacular” surge in spend compared to previous years, SMI's Jane Ractliffe says.


The Australian ad market reached a record $852 million for the month of November 2021, after a “spectacular” start to the 2021/22 financial year, Standard Media Index's Jane Ractliffe said.

SMI’s figures are sourced from advertising agencies’ billing systems, which showed a 1.5 per cent increase in media investment in November 2021 compared to 2020 – when spend was $840m. In the first five months of the 2021/22 financial year, ad spend was 16.3 per cent up on 2020 and 6.4 per cent up on the same period in 2019. 

“Given the level of uncertainty within the economy, it’s incredible to see such a resilient advertising market in November with the total media investment … a level of ad spend that has never before been achieved in Australia,” Ractliffe, SMI AU/NZ Managing Director, said.

“To give some extra perspective on the levels of ad spend we’re now seeing, the level of 2021 ad spend is 25 per cent higher than SMI reported for the same five months ten years ago in 2011!!”

Digital ad spend surpassed traditional television to be the biggest stand-alone media segment for the sixth time, figures from SMI in November show. This is likely to become more common as digital grows, Ractliffe said. Total “video” spend, however, which includes traditional TV and digital BVOD bookings, remained the largest media category.

SMI figures for the month of November in 2021.
SMI figures show Australian ad agencies spent a record amount - $852m - in November 2021. 

Government ad spend rose 41.1 per cent, which became the third largest category and partly offset declines in Auto Brand ad spend of 19.3 per cent.

Spend over the calendar year of the 11 months of 2021 showed a 20.8 per cent increase on 2020 and a 1.8 per cent increase on 2019.

Not counting digital spend, SMI’s “forward pacings” data shows December ad billings reached 97 per cent of last year.

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