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Challenging road ahead for the Trinidad and Tobago advertising industry?

In our analysis for the first quarter (Q1) of 2016, we asked the question, Is Radio’s down performance the canary in the coal mine for Trinidad and Tobago’s advertising industry? With an additional three months of data in hand, we are seeing the canary’s problems have spread.

The first quarter analysis, showed mixed results within the advertising industry, however, we are now seeing a clear downward trend in year on year performance across the board. And more worrying than the -16% fall off in the second quarter (Q2), year on year, is the deep negative trend line evident from the monthly numbers. We hope that the industry corrects course and begins to match the 2015 trend, with positive summer growth, but based on numbers up to June we are not holding our breath.

As you can see from the graph, advertising was tracking slightly up, comparatively to last year, in Q1. It has however fallen off sharply as we close out the Q2 of 2016. In Q1 advertising activity was up slightly at +3% but, the second quarter it has dropped off by -16% from 2015’s numbers. Over the first half of the year (Q1 & Q2 together) the advertising industry is down -6%. In the first quarter, we saw the industry holding its own despite the poor performance of the general economy. In the second quarter that poor economic performance seems to be catching up. With a consistent, and increasingly, negative trend month on month. April came in at -8%, May was -12% and June closed out the quarter sharply down -25%, in year on year monthly performance.

Looking at the performance broken down by media type we see an across the board decrease.

*Cable advertising only covers advertising spots placed with the Flow network in the channels that they allow local advertising.

Interestingly Newspaper, which was the star performer in Q1 has given back all of its gains in Q2. TV fared the best of the mediums managing to hold almost even with last years’ numbers. Cable has a much smaller budget, but these numbers should be causing major concerns as it is suffering a year on year collapse. Down 56% at the half way mark of 2016.

How is the budget being split up between brands

One of the big positive trends we identified in our Q1 analysis was the increase in the number of brands advertising in 2016 over 2015. We suggested that this could be one of the factors accounting for the somewhat surprising positive performance of the industry, given the context of the poor overall state of the Trinidad and Tobago Economy.

As you can see in Q2, that trend reversed with 2015 now having a significant advantage over 2016 in the number of brands advertising. Correspondingly the overall spend numbers dropped as well.

When you examine the individual media types, you see that Cable did the best regarding new advertising brands with +13% performance. Newspapers outperformed 2015 numbers by +7%. Radio and TV were both negative performers -14% and -10% respectively. Overall the industry was able to hold the line and closely match 2015 only being down -1%. A strong Q1 showing drove this overall performance, but the trend for Q2 has turned worryingly negative.

What will the third quarter (Q3) look like?

In our comparative analysis, we are projecting that 2016 will continue to underperform against 2015 in Q3 of this year. In 2015 Trinidad and Tobago went to the polls during Q3, which led to a summer peak in advertising activity. The Olympics in Rio is sure to be one of the highlights of Summer 2016. We do expect to see some uplift in advertising as brands attempt to capitalize on the increased buzz around the Olympics. Local and international brands are likely to have campaigns planned for the period coming up to and during the Olympics, August 5 – 21st. While this is a significant sporting event, we do not expect it to have the same impact as a general election. If the negative trend that developed in Q2 continues into Q3, the gap in the performance for the two years could be quite exaggerated. Look out for further analysis as the data becomes available.

Media InSite is an independent, Port of Spain-based advertising data service specializing in competitor intelligence and ad placement auditing for brand managers, ad agencies, and media houses. Operating since 2011, the company records and indexes advertising content in Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

Statistics in this report are based on information from our proprietary digital system that logs all instances of pre-recorded spot advertising on monitored radio, TV, and cable channels along with staff-indexed newspaper display advertising content.


Allison Demas

Founder and CEO

Media InSite Ltd.



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