Mr Miller issued a press statement on Wednesday following the release of the February SMI data, based on agency bookings.
“The data does not capture the large proportion of direct advertisers that news media attracts,” he said. “Direct bookings represent 56 per cent of total revenue for publishers, while direct spend on national titles grew by 13.5 per cent in the December 2017 quarter alone.
“In 2017, total ad revenue for the news media sector was $2.02 billion. News media brands deliver targeting at scale in the most trusted environment for both readers and advertisers,” he said.
The $2.02 billion figure was revealed in the News Media Index release for January, with data collated by SMI. The sector’s advertising revenue hit a year high in the fourth quarter of calendar 2017 at $519.8 million, buoyed by advertising related to the Queensland election and the Marriage Equality debate.
The result was underpinned by digital news media revenue that grew 8.5 per cent to $134 million, well above the agency-only growth rate of 6.6 per cent reported by SMI. Digital spend from direct advertisers jumped by 31.8 per cent to $85 million in the quarter.
Programmatic ad revenue also continued to grow strongly, rising by 26.5 per cent to $9.9 million, while digital classifieds rose by 21.6 per cent to $61 million in the quarter.