Ad Revenue Drops 37.1% in English-Speaking Markets

Standard Media Index
(Image credit: SMI)

The global COVID-19 pandemic reduced advertising revenue by 37.1% in the largely English-speaking markets where Standard Media Index operates, the company said in a new report.

Television advertising was down 35.2% in the U.S. and dropped even more--45.9%--in Canada. The U.K. saw a 32.6% decrease in TV revenue, Australia fell 36.8% and New Zealand dropped 32.3%.

The second-quarter declines were bigger than the 28.2% drop in the first quarter, when the pandemic began. 

"In each country, the ad markets hit the bottom in the April/May months with declines of 40% or more and that has pulled the average Q2 decline across the five countries down by almost nine percentage points,” said James Fennessy, CEO at SMI. “The good news is the worst is over and across all markets we’re reporting lower declines and also the first signs of market growth,’’ Fennessy said.

In each country, digital media is reporting the smallest declines in national ad spending, with an average drop of 26.6%. TV is the next most resilient, down 36.5%.

"TV and digital are clearly emerging as the media likely to bounce out of the COVID market in better shape as they’ve both experienced audience growth during this lockdown period,’’ Fennessy said. "Already the early US data for August is showing us that TV looks to be stabilizing with bookings back just 0.5%, and in Australia and NZ the early August data also shows television is delivering the lowest year-on-year declines of any major media.’’

The categories showing the biggest declines were travel, entertainment and clothing/apparel, all off in the 80% range.

On the other hand, pharmaceutical spending was up, along with household supplies in the U.S. and healthcare was up in Australia.

Early third quarter data see healthcare and home related products doing well.

"There is still immense caution in the business community, but these category trends show there remains a willingness to spend on personal goods and smart advertisers are moving to capitalize on those demands,’’ Fennessy said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.