For those writing obituaries of print, it may be time for course correction. The medium has not only managed to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but has also been able to surpass the pre-covid revenue numbers for the Diwali season.
If the experts are to be believed, the Hindi newspapers will post a solid single-digit growth over the 2019 revenues in the current fiscal. Whereas, the English ones would be able to reach the pre-covid levels too.
The medium has seen new categories such as Crypto and fintech advertising more. Whereas, the traditional ones such as real estate, Jewellery and education have also come back.
According to Harrish Bhatia, President - Sales and Marketing, Dainik Bhaskar Group, the ad spend by the brands have surpassed the estimates.
"If we talk particularly about Dainik Bhaskar, this year, we have not only delivered a growth of 14% over the Festive Season of 2020-21 but also, we have delivered a growth of 11% over the festive season of 2019-20 (pre-Covid period). In comparison to the last year i.e. 2020-21, we have grown in all major categories i.e. Real Estate (10% growth), Jewellery (35% growth), Education (21% growth), Lifestyle (51% growth), Electronics (19% growth) and Healthcare (37% growth). This clearly shows that we have seen a noteworthy increase in the ad-spends by the brands in all major categories," Bhatia said.
Bhatia said that the trend is likely to stay till the new year season and that will add to the revenue jump in the month-long wedding season.
"If we go back a little, then we will find that the uptrend in Print advertising started from August and ever since then the consistent uptrend has been going on and we are hopeful that the uptrend shall continue at least till New year. Jewellery and lifestyle categories can see significant upside as this wedding season will be huge because most of the weddings planned during Apr-Jun'21 were postponed to Nov- Dec'21 due to covid," he added.
Adding to Bhatia, Satyajit Sengupta, Chief Corporate Sales and Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group, said that the demand for brands across categories has been high but supply has been a major constraint.
"The festive season in 2021 has been spectacular for Print advertising to say the very least. We are back to 2019 levels for almost all categories. Consumer demand across markets has been really strong with brands reporting big growth in sales. In fact, the only issue one came across was supply constraints in some categories. All festive category brands focussed on Print advertising this year to push visibility and sales and got excellent return. This year, the winter wedding season starts from November 15, and goes till February. Since weddings could not happen during the summer season due to the Covid second wave, the entire rush is now. Therefore, the shopping spree will continue in our markets and we look forward to some big advertising," Sengupta added.
Talking about the growth the Times Group has seen, a group executive, who did not wish to be named, said that almost 85% of the advertising revenues have come back for the group and we expect that the year would close at around 100% of the pre-covid revenues.
The group saw its advertising revenue falling by over 40% in the last fiscal. "The Diwali season has been better than expected. Jewellery, apparels and luxury brands are likely to keep advertising given the ongoing wedding season. The momentum is likely to be maintained throughout H2," the executive added.
For HT Media group, the growth has been similar for the English daily Hindustan Times. For Hindi Hindustan, the growth has been better than expected as it surpassed the pre-covid Diwali numbers this season.
The business dailies, however, continue to lag in terms of both revenue and circulation. "The business dailies have been the most hit. They had made events an additional source of revenue. However, with Covid hitting hard twice, that business is yet to be on track. The circulation was institutional focused, with work from home extending, it doesn't seem to come back. The digital arms of the business dailies are doing better though," said a business head for a leading financial daily, who did not wish to be named.
The print industry lost almost 40% of its revenue because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Some reports had estimated that it will take a long time to totally recover. However, the ongoing trend suggests the opposite.