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A shifting media funding landscape: trends in advertising spending

A PDF version of this report can be found here.

This analysis brings together publicly available ad spending data to help inform conversations about ad spending on media, and more broadly, media funding, into the future. Infometrics has compiled a long historical time series of ad spending by type of media, to better inform debate.

Digital dominance in ad spending clear to see

Digital ad spending has been undergoing a seemingly unstoppable rise since it appeared into the ad realm in the 2000s. However, it was only in the 2021 calendar year that digital surpassed combined non-digital ad spending on other media. By 2023, digital ad spending totalled $1.87b, a 4.9%pa increase on the previous year.

Spending on digital-only ads in 2023 totalled just over $370m more than non-digital ad spending combined. Non-digital spend totalled $1.49b, down 7.3% from a year before.

Over the last decade, digital ad spending has been growing at around 15%pa on average. In comparison, non-digital ad spending recorded an average 2.0% decline in spending each year over the same period.

Note: the “digital” ad spend referred to above is ad spending on direct digital providers. The small amount of digital ad spending on different media platforms is counted against that media type (eg, ad spending on digital TV offerings is allocated to TV).

Mixed outcomes for other media types

Ad spending on other media types has moved in various directions recently.


The largest single area of ad spending after digital is television, which collected $534m in ad spending in 2023. This total was $65m lower than the previous year, an 11% drop. The best year for television was back in 2005, when $666m of ad spending went to TV. Current ad spending on TV is down 20% from this peak.


Newspapers are the second-largest non-digital area of ad spending and collected $297m in 2023. This total was $38m lower than a year earlier, down 11%. Newspapers have seen a substantial drop in ad spending over time, with the best year for newspaper ad spending also being in 2005. That year, $830m was spent on newspaper ads, with a 64% plunge in ad spending on newspapers since 2005.


Radio is the third-largest non-digital area of ad spending in New Zealand and collected $267m in 2023. Radio is a much more stable area of ad spending, with a $9m drop in 2023, down just 3.3% from the previous year. The best year for radio advertising was in 2017, when $283m was collected, meaning current radio ad spend is just 5.7% below peak levels.


Magazine ad spending continued on a downward slide in 2023, with $128m in ad spending collected. That total was down $25m from magazine ad spending the year before, a 16% drop. Like ad spending on television and newspapers, peak magazine ad spending was in 2005, with ad spending since then more than halving from the $260m seen in 2005. Magazine ad spending wasn’t reported for 2020 given the upheaval in magazine publishing in New Zealand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.

Out of home

Ad spending on out of home media had its best year ever in 2023, with $197m spent on this media type. Ad spending in 2023 was $14m higher than a year earlier, up 7.7%. Out of home media was one of only three types to see an increase in ad spending in 2023.

Addressed mail

Addressed mail ad spending rose in 2023, to $29m. That ad spending represented a $7m increase on ad spending the year before, up 32%pa. Last year also marked the first time since 2015 that addressed mail saw an annual increase in ad spending. However, like several other media types addressed mail has seen sharp drops in ad spending from its peak, more than halving from the $61m high in ad spending seen in 2014.

Unaddressed mail

Unaddressed mail ad spending dropped slightly in 2023, down $1m, or 3.0%, to $32m. Ad spending on unaddressed mail has declined in the same way as magazines and addressed mail, with spending halving from the $65m peak recorded in 2007.


Ad spending on cinema fell in 2023 after a recovery in the previous two years. Cinema ad spending fell $1m, or 10%, to $9m. Cinema ad spending has remained fairly limited over time, having recorded peaks of $13m in ad spending in 2000 and 2004. But with such small figures of similar magnitude since the mid-1990s, we don’t read too much into fluctuations year-to-year.

Long term trends have worsened

Data on ad spending by media type from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) goes back to 1991. Before that, similar data for most core media types is listed in Stats NZ’s Official Year Books. Infometrics has compiled these figures to create a timeseries of ad spending data by media type going back to 1964.

Comparing this long-term series to nominal GDP shows that ad spending at present isn’t keeping pace with the trend growth in the economy.

Ad spending as a share of GDP has been falling since 2006, from 1.3% down to a low of 0.7% in the March 2021 year. The 2021 year effectively captures the drop in ad spending the 2020 calendar year.

Although there was a slightly rally over 2021/22 and 2022/23. back to above 0.8% of GDP, the latest figures for 2023 year saw a fall back to 0.75% of GDP.

Ad spending had been above 1% of GDP since the start of the 1980s until the mid-2000s, after an earlier period of more limited spending relative to the economy. Figures for the 1960s suggest that ad spending was around 0.9-1.0% of GDP, before falling to an average of 0.8% over the 1970s.


Data has been sourced from public Advertising Standards Authority data (back to 1991), and before that, from Official Year Books (OYBs) published by Stats NZ.

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