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Metro newspapers continue to lead ad revenue momentum:  News Media Index

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The news media sector has continued to report improvements in advertising expenditure, with the latest News Media Index (NMI) for the December 2018 quarter showing Metropolitan Press reporting a slight decline and the total sector remaining stable.

The NMI, with data collated by Standard Media Index (SMI) 1, showed that total news media advertising expenditure declined by just -6.2 per cent to $487.2 million in the final quarter of 2018. Metro press, which accounts for almost one third (31.9 per cent) of ad spend, reported -3.2 per cent in the December quarter to $155.36 million.

For the 2018 calendar year, the NMI shows ad spend to be back by -6 per cent to $1.89 billion, while for the December quarter the total was back -6.2 per cent, largely as a result of the difficult ad market conditions experienced by the overall media sector in October and November from the year prior when the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite drove ad spend. Australia’s news media sector remains the third largest media sector by ad revenue.

According to SMI’s media agency-only data for the month of December, total news media ad spend was back -4.7 per cent, a larger decline than the NMI figures, which also include spend from direct advertisers. The NMI showed that Metro Press, however, grew ad spend +1.2 per cent in December.

NewsMediaWorks CEO, Peter Miller, said: “The News Media Index figures are 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! A total of 17.5 million Australians read news media, the latest emma data2 shows.

“Once again we have seen low single digit negative growth in news media advertising expenditure of -6.2 per cent, built on the strong performance of the big metropolitan titles, the core of the sector’s business, which were back only -3.2 per cent.

“Digital news media grew by +6 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 ropey 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.”

SMI AU/NZ Managing Director, Jane Ractliffe, said: “Australia’s 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 6 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.


1.     The revenue data is taken from NewsMediaWorks’ members, News Corp Australia, Nine, West Australian Newspapers and Community Newspaper Group, WA, who represent around 90 per cent of the news media sector.

2.     emmaTM, 12 months to October 2018. Readership based on last four weeks. Trends compared with 12 months to October 2017. Survey conducted by Ipsos Connect, people 14+, Nielsen Digital Panel, October 2018, People 14+ calibrated to Nielsen Digital Content Ratings data for the equivalent period.

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