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Lockdown accelerates digital-first advertising strategy of brands

A massive boost in consumption digital is experiencing could lead to a tectonic shift in consumer behaviour in coming months, making digital the cornerstone of the media plan, say experts

Newspapers are facing a major delivery challenge, outdoor advertising has almost stalled, radio isn't picking up either as cars are off the road and TV isn't offering viewers with new content.

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The media landscape has altered 180 degrees in the last one month. And it isn't going to be the same again, say experts.

Also read: Advertising or no advertising: Do consumers even bother during Covid-19 crisis?

Digital is going through a major boom during the lockdown and has become the go-to media for a major section of the society. And where there are users, there would be advertisers.

The medium is also likely to expand sooner than expected in terms of advertising revenue and may overtake print faster than it has been predicted.

India's print advertising revenue currently stands at over Rs 20,000 crore. Whereas, digital is in the range of Rs 12,000 crore (of which more than one third is owned by Google and Facebook).

The rise of digital

Given the uncertainty of the situation and everything is in a lockdown mode, most advertisers are cautious and are cutting down spends.

This is true for most of the categories. However, some of the categories such as FMCG, entertainment, telecommunications, and e-commerce (essential delivery), etc, continue to spend on digital. 

Gopa Kumar

Thus, in the short term, Gopa Kumar, COO, Isobar India, said that there will be a dip in spends but the demand is there and once things open up, spends will start to happen, albeit slow to begin with.

Kumar said as time spent by consumers on digital is on the rise and will continue to be go-to medium, it makes sense for brands to target them on digital platforms where they are actively engaged.

Both the number of people and time spent on digital is on the rise. As brands consider reducing or cancelling pop-ups, events, or off-line ads, majority of them have started reinvesting and considering digital strategies.

In fact, the entertainment event industry is looking ahead for a more flexible ecosystem to work in this situation — leaning more towards digital.

Does this mean that after the pandemic, digital would become more mass and go-to choice for every advertiser?

Deven Dharamdasani

“It is hard to predict as we are talking about a total cultural change. Earlier, brands were not dependent only on the digital space. The way we are seeing, consumption is increasing on TV and other platforms too. It is very speculative to say brands will use only the digital approach. Yes, it will definitely grow as OTT, gaming and education may consider spending more on advertising,” said Deven Dharamdasani, CEO, SVG Media.

After the crisis, there would be more and more people who would now be comfortable dealing, transacting on digital platforms be it education, grocery, transactions, etc, he said.

And hence, he added, “Digital will become more and more mainstream and become an obvious choice for advertisers at large.”

The lockdown has impacted the overall industry, forcing every company to re-think its cash flow. Hence, the decrease in spending.

Since, overall demand for products has gone down there is a direct impact on advertising across mediums.

Rikki Agrawal

Rikki Agrawal, Co-Founder, Chief Business and Operating Officer of Blink Digital, said social media as a platform is still accessible to advertise and has seen a 30% growth during this time. For brands who don’t want to go media dark, social media is a big option.

Learning from China, he said, “Post Covid-19, people will be scared of coming out and there will be a lot of scepticism about hygiene conditions. Digital distribution will become the most important part that all companies should and will focus on. Since people will start buying things digitally, for advertisers it will only make sense for them to advertise there.”

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