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Indian ad spends in 2021 likely to exit 90% of 2019 level, says IPG Mediabrands’ Magna

In 2022, the overall net ad sales revenue is expected to grow by more than 15% to Rs 75,500 crore

IPG Mediabrands’ market intelligence arm Magna has said that the Indian net ad sales revenue grew +14% in 2021 to reach Rs 65,700 crore. This year, the digital ad formats grew by +20% (APAC average: +23%) to Rs 21,400 crore, while traditional media rose +12% to Rs 44,300 crore.

In 2022, the overall net ad sales revenue is expected to grow by more than 15% to Rs 75,500 crore. Net ad revenues across digital formats will rise +19% to reach Rs 25,400 crore in 2022, while linear ad sales will grow by +13% to reach Rs 49,900 crore, 66% market share.

The net ad sales revenues fell 22% from about Rs 72,000 crore in 2019 to Rs 55,700 crore in 2020.

The latest numbers released by Magna clearly indicates that overall advertising revenue in 2021 is likely to exit 90% of 2019 revenues.

Despite the +13% growth next year and the +12% growth in 2021, linear ad sales will remain 87% of pre-COVID levels, while digital ad sales will be nearly 50% above 2019 levels.

Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, said, “Though the second COVID wave in 2021Q2 disrupted the momentum, ad revenue in 2021 will grow at a healthy rate after contracting -22% in 2020. Close to 60% of the new gains came on the back of linear formats. Brand and privacy safe media that the traditional formats boast off, keep them relevant. A strong growth predicted from print advertising (+12%) is the way advertisers have reinforced faith in the medium. Though the road to recovery is a long one and albeit at different rates, advertising revenue in 2021 is likely to exit 90% of 2019 revenues.”

Ecommerce, Retail, Durables, Beverages, Pharma, Real estate, Finance, and Education were the most active categories while automobile, government, personal care, and communication brands continued to hold back their spending.

In 2022, Travel & Hospitality will see a resurgence, with the relaxation in travel regulations. The automobile and handset sectors that experienced supply-side issues will bounce back, too, along with the Education, Realty, Retail, and Fashion sectors. Traditionally TV-heavy categories, like FMCG, Personal products, and Food are expected to increase their share of digital advertising.

The pandemic has reinforced agility and persistent digital engagement. This has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce as a channel and social commerce is increasingly getting popular. Advertisers will pursue every shoppable moment to offer “anywhere commerce” to their consumers. With local players in Reliance and Tata e-commerce platforms gaining more traction, the sector will further increase its share of advertising.

Digital adoption accelerated with increased use of devices and streaming services, gaming, and e-sports benefitting. Digital advertising is currently the second-largest segment at 33% market share at the end of 2021, following growth of +19.6%. Social has the highest share within digital (28%), followed by Display (26%), Search (25%), and Video (21%). Growth has come from Neo banks, crypto exchanges, fantasy sports, and online betting & gaming. In 2022, video and social platforms will gain significant advertising share followed by audio and display. Overall, digital advertising revenues are expected to grow +18.5% next year to top INR 250 billion.

Despite disruptions in 2Q21 caused by a surge in COVID cases, television performed well in 2021 (+10%) as original content never dried up. IPL matches were paused partway through the season, due to harsh situations posed by the pandemic; however, resuming them in the second half of 2021, along with the ICC T20 World Cup, helped television revenue growth. The top 10 advertising categories contribute to more than 80% of the revenues. Ecommerce, education, beverages, realty, pharma, and food advertising revenues grew, while government, automobile, personal care, and financial category eroded in 2021. With IPL media rights coming up in 2022, valuation this time is going to be even higher with the increase in the number of teams and the number of matches. With this factor, coupled with a few critical state elections, television is expected to maintain momentum and grow by +11% to reach INR 294 billion by the end of 2022.

Newspapers have nearly recovered on circulation and advertising volumes, though the market pricing is still soft. In 2021, overall print grew +12% from a low base (2020: -40%), despite the slowdown in business. Growth has come from Retail, Durables, Finance, Real Estate, and Government spending. 2022 growth is expected to be broad-based, with most categories increasing spends and elections in a few large states helping to drive an increase of +14%. With all COVID restrictions lifted, wedding season (which typically begins in October and lasts through March/April) will present another opportunity for print to thrive. 

Radio’s recovery started off briskly before stalling due to the second lockdown in 2Q21. The rebound from the July to October 2021 period was far steeper and vertically driven; however, ad rates will take a while to get back on track. Radio is expected to gain back the transit audience listeners lost during the lockdowns. Growth in both listenership and revenue is expected to come from Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. Overall, radio advertising revenues grew +20% in 2021 to reach ₹16 billion, nearly 70% of the pre-COVID market size.  Growth was driven by E-commerce, Food, Pharma, and Retail advertising. Growth of +21% is expected for 2022.

OOH traffic numbers are already reaching pre-COVID levels, with passenger footfall in airports and the metro increasing rapidly. Increased waiting time due to the health check process makes transit assets more attractive for advertisers. While the recovery in revenue will happen in stages and vary on formats, street furniture, billboards, and transit format occupancy rate have all seen an increase. Cinema hall regulations have been relaxed in most states as of the second half of 2021, and the return of big-budget movies supports recovery for multiplexes. OOH (digital & static, not including cinema) revenues rebounded by +17% in 2021 and an acceleration (+20%) is expected in 2022, with revenues reaching 67% of the 2019 pre-COVID market size at the end of the year. Automobile, Real Estate, OTT & Finance are a few categories driving OOH advertising growth.


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