If the previous year's spend on advertising over the same-sex marriage debate was the good news then, it was inevitable that Australian publishers should face a drop in 2018.
New News Media Index figures show a fall of six per cent to$1.89 billion for the calendar year, with the December quarter falling 6.2 per cent. Difficult ad market conditions faced by the overall media sector in October and November were compared with the previous year when the plebiscite debate drove ad spend.
Australia's news media sector remains the third largest media sector by ad revenue. SMI's media agency-only data for December showed that metro press grew 1.2 per cent, despite the total falling 4.7 per cent, a bigger decline than in NMI figures which include the spend from direct advertisers.
Standard Media Index's regional managing director Jane Ractliffe (pictured) says the Australian news media industry is "arguably the new growth engine within digital media", with ad spend to news media's digital assets outpacing that of the broader agency market.
"When comparing the agency-only SMI data to the NMI data we can see that advertisers are growing their digital investment to news media websites at a far faster pace than that of the broader digital market.
"For example, digital ad spend in the NMI grew 21.4 per cent in December but SMI's agency data for the same period shows digital spending back 4.6 per cent. In Q4 NMI digital ad spend was up six per cent, while in the SMI agency data total digital spend was back 0.8 per cent. For the full calendar year, NMI digital ad spend has grown 8.7 per cent, while in the SMI data it's up a lesser 5.8 per cent.''
Direct ad spend now accounts for 56 per cent of all news media advertising, again highlighting the difference between agency and direct ad revenue, although the media agency sector continues to improve.
Unlike the monthly SMI data which reports agency only revenue, the quarterly News Media Index reports all print and digital ad revenue to Australia's largest news media publishers from both agencies and direct advertisers and is independently verified by SMI.
NewsMediaWorks chief executive Peter Miller described the NMI figures as "good news for our industry.
"The continued strengthening of the sector shows that an improvement in the fortunes of authentic news media has become a trend!
"Digital news media grew by six per cent as advertisers seek to support their brands by advertising in trusted, authentic, reliable news environments rather than throwing hard won budgets at the ropy long tail of the web and the even ropier social channels.
"I think what are seeing here is the result of a reappraisal by advertisers and their agencies, and a return flight to quality."
You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!
Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: