Discover more from Unmade: media and marketing analysis
Still looking for the bottom
Welcome to an end-of-week update from Unmade. Today, we dig into the new SMI numbers in search of hope; and the Unmade Index finally twitches back into life.
Unmade’s end-of-year roadshow kicks off in 11 days’ time. Compass comes to the Arthouse Hotel in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday November 14.
Join us for a laid back discussion over a drink as we look back on 2023 and forward to 2024. Our excellent Sydney panel is:
Clive Dickens, VP of TV, content and product dvelopment at Optus; Lauren Joyce, chief strategy & connections officer, ARN; Leah Jackson, head of digital marketing at Goodman Fielder; Henry Innis, co-founder & CEO of Mutinex and Simone Gupta, co-founder of Supermassive.
We’ll be announcing the panels for Compass Melbourne on November 21 and Compass Brisbane on November 22 in the coming days.
Tickets to Compass are $199, or complimentary to Unmade’s paying members. Book your ticket or upgrade your membership today.
Least bad becomes the new good in media spend
Tim Burrowes writes:
If you watch the marketing industry closely, one of the best things about the start of the month is the arrival of new SMI data.
Since its inception in 2009, Standard Media Index has become a useful, almost real time health check, on how the local ad market is performing. Before that, the next best thing was Nielsen’s ad expenditure data, with topline results grudgingly shared with the trade press every six months.
Nielsen’s methodology was to manually count all the ads that appeared across the non-digital media and take a guess on spend based on the offical ratecard numbers.
SMI, or Guideline SMI as it is now, created a much more accurate system, doing deals with all the major media agencies to take a feed of their actual client spend. It means that for advertising bought through agencies - which is most of it - SMI is as close as we can get to a source of truth. And at the moment that’s an ugly truth.
For the last few months, when the email from SMI arrives, I open it with a single question in mind: “Have we hit bottom yet"?”
It’s a question on everyone’s minds. As we wrote last month, Brent Scrimshaw, the boss of holding company Enero gets asked it a lot. He told the Enero AGM: “The question I am most frequently asked in the past few months is when do you see the current market sentiment changing?”
There were still not much good news to be found in this week’s update from SMI, which covered September.
The overall agency market was down by 3.8% compared to the same month in 2022.
And that was with the help of the one-off boost of heavy spending by both sides in the run up to the referendum for The Voice, which took place on October 14. Otherwise it would have been worse.
A relatively new trend is that spend no longer shifts up and down by medium. It’s become a multispeed market, where there are still a couple of winners.
First, cinema (up 17.1% on September 2022) and outdoor (up 12.4%), which were among the worst hit during Covid, are continuing their recovery.
The other (kind of) green shoot came in the video segment, which has developed into a two-speed market.
In linear television, it was another miserable month, down by 8.3%. At first glance, that was offset by the rapid rise in the smaller segment of digital (streaming) video which was up by 20.5%.
But even that boost that still left the overall video segment down by 6.7%.
And the problem for the established TV players is that they’re not getting all the streaming dollars - they’re leaking out to the international platforms too.
It’s also a similarly alarming advertising picture for the purveyors of the written word.
Printed newspapers were down by 21.9%, while digital news revenue was down by 20.3%.
At least the news publishers have the growing revenue stream of subscriptions to lean on.
Not so for magazines, with Are Media being the major player. They still have no digital subscriptions plan to speak of. While magazine print advertising - or what’s left of it anyway - was down by 14%, the digital component for magazines fell away even more badly, losing 38.9%.
Pre-2020, the running joke in media was that flat was the new growth. Now it may be that anything under a 5% fall counts as a win.
In which case the audio sector doesn’t look so bad. Broadcast radio was down by 1.6% in September. That’s actually the least bad month of 2023 for radio, which previously saw month-on-month falls as bad as 15%, and nothign better than a 3.4% fall. So a loss of 1.6% looks a bit like a win.
Maybe least bad is the new good.
Unmade Index picks up steam
Seja Al Zaidi writes:
The Unmade Index finally picked up some steam on Thursday, rising by 1.38% to 579.3 points. That followed a trading fortnight characterised by seven days of falling prices followed by three flat days.
ARN Media rose 5.77%, and Domain 5.26%. Enero Group lifted 3.42%, Ooh Media 2.73% and Nine 1.08%.
Sports Entertainment Group, owner of network SEN, had a sharp drop - down 21.74% - while Motio fell 8.57% and IVE Group 1.58%.
Time to leave you to your Friday.
I’ll be back in the morning with Best of the Week, written in London while you’re asleep tonight.
Have a great day.
Publisher - Unmade