Online stoked, papers complain and other media lick wounds after release of ASA turnover data

You know it was a bad year when an industry organisation comes out and says it’s fairly happy with a significant core revenue decline. But that’s exactly what the papers have done after the release of the Advertising Standards Authority’s New Zealand Advertising Turnover scorecard. Online, however, is sitting pretty as the only sector to notch up an increase.

Overall, the total industry declined by $272m in 2009, dropping to $2045m from $2317m in 2008, making for a total industry decline of 12 percent (for all the figures and some snappy graphs, check the New Zealand Marketing Association’s (NZMA) handiwork here).

For the papers, national and retail advertising, the industry measure for all main media channels, dropped nine percent in the 12 months to December 2009, a $137 million drop to $623m, the lowest it has been since 2001 (total newspaper advertising was down 18 percent, however, showing how hard classifieds were hit). And Newspaper Publishers Association president Michael Muir says that was a much stronger result than many expected.

Obviously, part of the reason for the strangely optimistic outlook seems to be that other media suffered worse: television advertising dropped 12 percent to $570m, a decline of $77m over the previous year; radio also dropped 12 percent from $268m to $236m; and magazines dropped 13 percent to $217m, down $32m.

Online slash interactive, however, continues to laugh maniacally as it rolls on a bed laden with cash: it reported a 10.5 percent year on year increase, up from 8.3 percent last year.

Interactive advertising continued its growth in New Zealand and stood out among the nine other advertising sectors as the only one to increase its revenue last year, with interactive (or “online”) advertising spend increasing from $193m in 2008 to $214m in 2009.

New Zealand Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) chairman Michael Gregg says online wasn’t exempt from the challenging trading conditions,with classified advertising hit particularly hard.

“At the other end of the spectrum, search and display advertising experienced strong annual growth.”

Gregg, who’s “bullish” about online continuing to chip away at securing market share from other advertising sectors, says the IAB predicted this rise back in November 2009 when it analysed the New Zealand advertising market, showing that search and directories advertising was leading the way with year-on-year growth of 32 percent.

“Advertising online is steamrolling forward. My take is that we’ve already passed magazine spend in the first quarter of 2010, and we should be seriously threatening radio for third position by the end of 2010, chasing print and television.”

Overseas, he says the ongoing trend toward online is compelling.

“For example, in the first half of 2009, UK companies spent more money on interactive advertising than they did on television advertising for the first time. Put simply, the internet is currently the UK’s biggest advertising medium.”

Muir signalled that the newspaper industry would review its approach to the provision of New Zealand advertising industry turnover figures to the Advertising Standards Authority when it held its quarterly meeting at the end of March because it feels the ASA figures are not a relevant measure across the main media peer group and are open to being misconstrued.

“They are just not apples with apples [insert apple turnover pun here]. Newspapers are performing very strongly in the national and retail advertising categories. Our main media peer group are essentially providing a national and retail revenue comparison year‐on‐year and newspapers may decide to release the same figures. We are outperforming our peer group in these categories, but this is not readily apparent from the way the figures are presented.”

The NZMA says the changes to the New Zealand market over the past year are comparative with trends being experienced in international markets, with a recent Nielsen report has showing the US market experienced a nine percent decrease in 2009.

“It is important to remember that despite the decrease in spending since late 2007, we have experienced significant growth (over 23 percent) over the last ten years, from $1485 million in 2000 to $2045 million in 2009,” says Sue McCarty, chief executive, NZMA. “While these figures are excellent for understanding how advertising budgets are being spent, it is also important to consider these figures in relation to return on investment and cumulative brand value.

“Over the past few years, we have seen how measurability and accountability, as key contributors to innovation and excellence in marketing, are driving outstanding business success. As part of best practice marketing, we encourage our members to consider the return they are getting from their advertising spend when making decisions about how to best use their budgets.”

Newspaper, television and radio continue to hold the majority share of the market, despite the decreases. But the NZMA says the interactive category has continued to prove its potential for growth (it was at 0.4 percent market share in 2003 with $8 million spend when recording of this medium began).

Potential for growth in the interactive space is reflected by findings just released from AUT University’s New Zealand World Internet Project, which reveal that of the 1200 New Zealanders surveyed, 83 percent are now using the internet (up from 79 percent in 2007) and 82 percent of users have access to broadband.

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