SMI reports ad spend in 2022 jumps 6.9% as agencies book ads worth $9b

News Corp

SMI’s Jane Ractliffe: ‘In the past 10 years the value of the ad market has grown by a remarkable 39.4%’

Australia’s media agency market has finished what SMI has labelled “an extraordinary media year” with the total value of advertising bookings jumping 6.9% year-on-year to now be nudging the $9 billion mark.

The agency advertising market is now 10.9% – or $875.7 million – larger than it was in the pre-Covid CY2019 period, noted the latest report from the company that tracks media agency ad spend. Australian data analysed by SMI covers more than 98% of all media agency spend.

An analysis of the data revealed digital media is now the largest on a standalone basis (with digital-related ad spend from other media included). But when digital spend is reallocated to the originating content, the video/TV media sector remains the largest.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said Australia’s ad market has emerged in a far stronger position following the Covid downturn.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe

“Growth in the Australian ad market looks to be accelerating not just post Covid but also more broadly as we can see that in the past 10 years the value of the ad market has grown by a remarkable 39.4%, which represents an extra $2.5 billion in advertising bookings,” she said.

“At this rate the market’s value will be well north of $10 billion in the next few years.”

SMI noted from a demand perspective, the first half of the year was by far the strongest, with bookings for the six months to June up 11.6% to a record $4.29 billion (in part driven by the federal election campaign), with the growth rate falling to 2.8% in the second half and then -0.2% for the December quarter as bookings for the December month are so far back 10%.


Ractliffe said the Q4 result is just $5 million below the record level achieved at the same time last year, and comes off sustained growth in Q4 ad spend.

“The fourth quarter period was the first in CY2019 to turn positive following the depths of the Covid decline that year, and every year since Q4 ad spend has continued to deliver strong growth so it’s no surprise to see the market try to find a new baseline.”

SMI: Biggest ad spend growth

Media highlights nominated by SMI for 2022 include the continuing Covid recoveries of outdoor and cinema media categories with their bookings jumping 24.6% and 82% respectively.

News media continued to grow its digital ad spend while the digital audio market was the fastest-growing digital market related to traditional content, up 30%.

There were also some firsts within broader digital media, with video-based ad spend moving beyond $1 billion for the first time (and set to overtake display at the current growth rate) and search media also delivered more than $1 billion in agency bookings for the first time in CY2022.


The fastest growing digital sector remains social media with the total up 14.7% for the year.

In terms of major events, the year was notable for the last of the Covid-inflated government category ad spend and also government and political ad spend surrounding the federal and Victorian elections.

SMI data showed other large categories also delivering record levels of CY2022 ad spend included retail, insurance and restaurants. Meantime the travel category reported the strongest growth rate of 54.7%, representing growth of $141.5 million from its Covid-related decline.

The second half of the year was also notable for the start of the automotive brand category’s return to the ad market with its total now up 7.7% across the year. The ad spend from that category remains at least $250 million below its CY2018 peak, ensuring further room for growth in CY2023.

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