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Festive adspends likely to be better than 2019’s pre-Covid festive levels, say experts

With the World Cup Cricket and IPL coinciding with the festive season, advertisers are expected to invest heavily, pushing the adex nearly to the 2019 level. Television will have the highest share of spends, followed by digital

Despite the speculation over a looming third Covid wave, consumer sentiments seem to be improving in the market and so is the overall spending by advertisers.

As Onam kicks off the season of festivities, and two key sporting properties around the corner—ICC T20 Cricket World Cup and IPL— experts foresee adex to touch pre-Covid levels.

The Covid-19 pandemic had led to a 21.5% fall in India's adex in 2020, pulling it down it to Rs 65,053 crore from Rs 82,904 crore in 2019.

In January, multiple reports had estimated India's advertising investments would reach about Rs 80,123 crore this year, representing an estimated growth of 23.2% for the calendar year 2021.

Experts told BestMediaInfo that this festive season would give a much-needed boost to the country's adex to take it almost to 2019’s levels. They discussed which all categories and channels would be vying for the biggest bets.

Bhavna Sharma

Considering that the second quarter’s spends were not significantly affected this year like in 2020 and the April-May-June adex was equivalent to the spending in 2019, it can be said that we would be back to the 2019 level with slight variations, said Bhavna Sharma, Vice-President, Bangalore and West Head at Omnicom.

“With the festive season setting in, we are expecting a significant growth in the second half of the year, also partly due to multiple sporting events and reality shows. With India’s real GDP projected to record a growth of 11% in 2021-22, we can estimate a 30% jump in adex between September and December as compared to the same period the previous year,” she said.

Big ticket television entertainment properties such as Bigg Boss and Kaun Banega Crorepati will soon be aired. And just after the Olympics, two cricket marquee properties are soon to hit the screens.

Kaushik Chakraborty

Kaushik Chakraborty, Senior VP, iProspect, said a growth rate of 26% has been forecast for 2021, taking the adex almost to the same level of 2019. Major growth expected in Q4.

Jai Lala

“There is going to be a huge push to the adex with the IPL and World Cup and, of course, the festive season. We can definitely expect the adex to overtake last year and my estimation is that it should expect 10% growth over last year's festive season. It will be better than 2019’s pre-Covid festive levels,” said Jai Lala, Chief Executive Officer, Zenith. 

The government and organisations are better prepared against the pandemic. There is also a growing positive sentiment in the market.

Sharma believes consumer confidence is at an all-time high and consumption is recovering. And this augurs well for marketers.

Brands to spend heavily on TV followed by digital

Experts estimate 2021’s spends to be similar to 2019 with advertisers investing heavily during the festive season by capitalising on key tournaments IPL 2021 (Phase 2) and the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup.

According to Sharma, new-age categories such as edtech, gaming, e-com, auto, FMCG and retail categories are likely to witness aggressive spending.

“New categories and advertisers are likely to get active after this hiatus. With manufacturing rebounding and industrial value starting to normalise, auto categories will be backing their new launches. FMCG marketers are already turning bullish on the back of high growth in the economy. Advertisers in OTT, edtech, mobile gaming, and digital wallet payment categories are expected to continue their spending,” she added.

The cut on pricing for TV ads has made it more attractive for advertisers, for live TV at least, she added. The Indian digital segment has also been witnessing unanticipated growth and this trend is likely to continue this year as well.

Chakraborty said apart from consumer durables, telecom, FMCG, auto and e-commerce, the BFSI sector is also expected to drive festive spends in 2021.

According to Chakraborty, television will continue to have the highest share (40 % +) of overall ad spends, digital will closely follow with 34%+ share. Print will recover substantially during the season. Radio and OOH will do much better than 2020. With theatres opening in the second half of the year and big ticket movie releases being lined up, cinema spends are estimated to increase.

Print said to have witnessed the deepest impact in value with the onslaught of pandemic but was forecasted to grow by 23% in 2021 (according to GroupM TYNY report), along with TV by 18%, outdoor by 69% and cinema by 197%. Digital, on the other hand, was the least impacted in 2020 and is predicted to grow by 28% this year.

Although Lala is still doubtful of OOH’s recovery, since it all depends on markets opening up and Covid-19 spread, he said TV, print and digital will witness a good amount of spends.

Other than that, the industry is also expected to grow more on purpose-driven marketing with a strong one-on-one connection between brands and consumers and this will be the new emerging trend driving consumers' trust.

Chakraborty said the popularity of regional content and increasing internet penetration in tier two and three markets will lead to content driven marketing solutions at a regional level.

Summarising the trends she foresee this festive season, Sharma added, “With viewers becoming more aware of a brand’s proposition, emotive messaging will continue to be the trend into 2021. OTT, edtech, gaming, and digital wallet payment categories will advertise heavily even if a third wave hits the country as multiple touchpoints have emerged with a digital-first approach and explosion of smart devices. Connected TV and digital content integrations will see more investment from brands with increasing OTT consumption. Creative automation tools and the rise of tech solutions to help marketers measure, monitor, and track data to create original content will emerge deeper.”

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