As India approaches the beginning of the new fiscal year, bullish sentiment prevails in the ad industry, as Q1 of FY25 seems to be highly action-packed with three of the big media properties- Indian Premier League, ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and General Elections, slated in the period.
While General Elections are a five-year phenomenon and IPL comes across as an impact property for marketers in the first quarter, largely, it is the CWC 2024 which will begin and culminate in June, this year.
Being one of the biggest impact properties for marketers and brands, the IPL 2023 had seen a slew of brands such as Maruti Suzuki, Aditya Birla Group, Housing.com, Asian Paints, PepsiCo, Coca Cola Company, Luminous Technologies, MakeO’s Toothsi, ET Money, ITC’s Bingo!, Spinny, My11Circle, Winzo and Dream11 amongst others coming on board as advertisers for the tournament.
In fact, as per ‘The IPL 2023 Test’ report by Media Partner Asia, the total ad investment in the Indian Premier League was estimated to be within a wide range of USD 490-600 million, of which JioCinema was predicted to have raked in USD 330-350 million followed by Disney Star’s ad sales amounting to USD 200-220 million.
Similarly, the ad revenue from ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, as per various reports, also summed up somewhere between Rs 2,000-Rs 2,200 crore on TV and digital platforms, together.
The General Elections in 2019, on the other hand, saw brands such as Swiggy, Honda, Thomas Cook, Bata, McDonald’s, United Colors of Benetton, Subway, Castrol Activ, Cash Karo, MX Player, Samsonite, MTV India etc. riding on the election bandwagon with their ad campaigns.
As per reports, the total ad spending during the period was estimated to be about $7 billion.
Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, R Venkatasubramanian, President- Investments at Havas Media India and Managing Director at Havas Play, stated that looking at the coinciding of the two cricket properties along with General Elections 2024, there is a high likelihood of a substantial increase in brands' advertising spending. These events evoke strong emotions and create a sense of national pride and collective experience.
“Looking at this kind of start for the year 2024, we are confident about the brands’ willingness to show their support and increased spends on advertising due to the broad viewership and the diverse audience they attract. Advertisers often leverage these opportunities to reach a massive audience and boost brand visibility. Potential increase of ad spends of 20-25% can be estimated, largely led by Auto, E-commerce, Consumer durables, Beverages, Telecom and Political campaigns,” he opined.
With this, he also mentioned that the overlapping of the three events in Q1FY25 is likely to create a concentrated burst of advertising spends during the first half of the year. This could potentially impact the annual ad budget allocation plans of brands as they create a unique opportunity for brands to reach massive audiences and maximise their advertising impact.
“This might lead to brands front-loading their ad budgets in H1, allocating a larger share than usual to capitalise on the high viewership and engagement potential. Also, as there has been a sizable growth in consumption of content through digital platforms, the budget will be evenly distributed across both offline and online spend by brands,” he said.
In his opinion, since there will be limited inventory available offline (broadcast media), the focus will shift to online platforms offering differentiated content and geo-targeting, making them more lucrative in terms of deriving high ROI. Needless to say, OOH and other media will also attract good spends by advertisers.
That being said, he also pointed out that the concentrated spending in H1 might necessitate adjustments in annual ad budget allocations. As a result, some brands might reduce spending in other quarters, probably in Q2 or Q3 to compensate for the increased H1 expenditure while some may also shift the budget allocation within categories prioritising their spends on these high-impact events over other marketing activities.
“For some brands, the potential return on investment from these events might be so high that they might seek additional budget allocation from management,” he added.
About the excitement surrounding the combined cricket impact properties (IPL, CWC24) and General Elections in Q1FY25, he expressed that all three properties will attract high spend levels and will score well. However, advertisers will spend based on marketing objectives and will be event-based.
“These events promise massive, engaged audiences across demographics and geographies. Brands, especially those looking for mass awareness and brand recall, will prioritise maximising reach through TV, digital platforms, and outdoor advertising. Moreover, one can expect a data-driven, multi-platform approach focused on maximising reach, building brand association, and driving both short-term and long-term objectives. Short-term sales activations and e-commerce integrations will be key for brands targeting immediate conversions. Digital platforms like social media and online marketplaces will be utilised for targeted campaigns and promotional offers. Advanced analytics and audience segmentation will enable brands to deliver personalised ad experiences. Digital channels offer granular targeting capabilities to reach,” he said.
According to Trishul Bhumkar, Managing Partner, Zenith India, the first quarter of the upcoming fiscal year will not only see a quarter-on-quarter increase in the overall Adex but also an estimated double-digit growth on a YoY basis.
“With the entry points for the IPL being reduced significantly on digital, a growth in number of advertisers is expected to continue. However, the Cricket World Cup, as it stands, is likely to have a slightly muted response this time as compared to the previous year. Elections, on the other hand, would see an uptake by multiple categories, beyond the regular news genre advertisers. That being said, with the change in consumption patterns on TV and digital, brands would eventually have to be responsive to the same,” he said.
With this, he also shared the belief that the ad spending during H1FY25 would also be higher as compared to the second half, leading up to an increase in the overall adex growth in FY25. But what needs to be seen is that once the new government is formed by May 2024, how would the overall sentiment build up and how would the rural consumption change?
“Even though the media properties from Cricket will coincide with General Elections in Q1FY25, all the mediums would get their share of growth, it will be the impact properties from cricket that will drive digital adex growth and traditional mediums like television and print which will drive growth from elections. That being said, CTV (minus YouTube) would also see a lot of advertiser adoption,” Bhumkar elaborated.
Srinivas Rao, Chief Investment Officer, Wavemaker India, also pointed out that since General Elections happen only once in five years, the same along with the unveiling of the Union Budget 2024 is being looked at closely both by media owners and advertisers from a high significance POV.
“Along with the event’s stature as once in five-year opportunity and with the upcoming elections holding more relevance, we foresee a high single-digit to a low double-digit increase in rates for the period,” he said.
That being said, he also highlighted that since IPL is one of the biggest media properties in India across mediums and platforms, it already has brands riding on it through planned campaigns around it and that too well in advance.
Furthermore, he also highlighted that when it comes to the General Elections, the national news channels have always had a fair share of pull because of their coverage and content across all the states. The regional news channels, on the other hand, tend to become restrictive as their coverage and appeal are seemingly limited to one particular market.
“Regional news platforms pull would be higher for state elections though,” he remarked.
Sharing his views on whether the coinciding of the General Elections with the IPL will impact the ad spends of brands, he mentioned that IPL, being the impact property that it is, will still have its own unique pull and advertiser base, and therefore, the agency does not foresee any impact on both occurring simultaneously.
According to Deleise Ross, Senior VP and Business Head, MudraMax, the three of these events draw large viewership and offer brands an opportunity to reach a broad audience.
“When these events coincide in Q1FY25, it's plausible that brands may increase their advertising spending compared to the same quarter in the previous year (YoY). That being said, forecasting a tentative growth percentage would be too soon currently, but basis the last few years' trends, it's normal to estimate a 20 - 25% growth in investments,” she said.
She also highlighted that brands with elaborate media budgets or ‘leader brands’ across categories will want to leverage these high visibility properties. It is mainly the BFSI category and local players who want to gain maximum traction from General Elections, while FMCG, Auto and Consumer Electronics plan their launches on and around major cricketing events.