Ad spending in the major English-speaking markets -- the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- expanded 25% during the first half, including a 52% spurt during the second quarter, the first quarter to reflect year-over-year comparisons with the COVID-19 ad recession of 2020, which began in March and lasted through July (based on U.S. data).
“In the first quarter, we could see the first glimpse of the recovery in these advertising markets with the value of collective bookings lifting 5%, but now the market has really taken off with this incredible 52% increase in the second quarter ad spend,’’ notes James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index, which released the estimates as part of a periodic Anglo ad markets report it has been issuing.
“Admittedly, this April to June period last year was the most affected by the onset of the COVID pandemic, but on any measure the market has not only recovered from that downturn but has now moved back into growth mode," he adds.
Fennessy emphasized the difference a year makes, underscoring: “This time last year I'm sure there would be few commentators expecting such sizable advertising markets to return so quickly to their pre-COVID levels of ad spend, but the fact is the value of US ad spend is now 3% above what it was at this point in 2019, UK ad spend is 3% higher and New Zealand ad spend is up 7%."
The SMI analysis indicates much of the expansion can be attributed to key product categories, especially consumer package goods, technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services and apparel.
“Obviously, there’s still some large advertiser categories that are continuing to struggle, and across all markets we can see that's the case for the Automotive market, the Travel and the Entertainment sectors,’’ Fennessy adds.
In terms of market nuances, the SMI data indicates some variances by country.
For example, in the second quarter, the government ad category delivered the strongest increase in ad spend in Australia for the second quarter in a row, while in the U.S., the pharmaceutical market grew and the U.K. saw exceptionally strong growth in gambling ad spend.
Retail ad spending expansion is the most "common growth category" across all of the English-speaking markets.