OMG’s Scott Keddie on the ASA’s decision not to release ad spend figures

I was surprised to learn that the ASA would not be releasing 2015 advertising turnover so late in the day as we were all expecting to see the year’s results. 

While there has been much discussion over the past few years with regard to how the spend is reported; given the spread of digital formats across traditional and non-traditional channels, we cannot lose sight of how valuable this information is for the industry as a whole. 

The release of advertising turnover shouldn’t be seen as a chest beating exercise, although in small portions is probably acceptable and likely. As we are a self-regulated industry, we need to demonstrate a level of transparency of spend across media channels so we at least have a yard stick to measure the health of the advertising industry.

This is hugely important to advertisers and agencies, as without that measure, the strength of channels will be hard to gauge. Without this information it becomes a guessing game which is just not acceptable for an industry worth in excess of $2.3 billion. 

Yes, we have SMI data available which is a good measure of agency spend trends, but this represents only c. 47 percent of market spend, and is more representative across some channels than others.

As OMG are the largest purchasers of media inventory in NZ, we use SMI, along with other research tools, to measure our level of investment in the market. It’s important to understand trends in the market which have an impact on pricing. 

As an industry, we do need to understand better how and when we report spend, and how to better represent spend across multiple channels – without duplication.

I see CAANZ, ANZA, the Marketing Association and various media channel bodies working together to better understand what level of reporting is required to suit the needs of our ever-changing industry. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting more regular reporting, ideally quarterly, reflecting how dynamic our market is. An annual report is useful, but quarterly summaries would provide a better gauge of investment trends that both advertisers and agencies could act upon throughout the year. 

Now is an opportune time to set out a path, agreed on by the industry, to better define advertising spend. Most likely we won’t get it 100 percent right, but if a forum exists to refine reporting on-going, the results will be valuable to advertisers and agencies.

To read more industry responses ASA’s decision click here.

  • Scott Keddie is the chief investment officer at OMG NZ.

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