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Despite no ratings, TV News ad spends remain intact even as marketers test digital waters

Adgully had launched its ‘Trending Now’ series a couple of years back to crystal gaze at the year ahead and predict the trends that will dominate the advertising, marketing and media industry. In the course of these two years, Trending Now has grown to assume its own independent stature, and since the beginning of 2021, we have featured some of the leading marketers, advertisers, business consultants and key observers, who identified the trends in the business of marketing, media, advertising and entertainment that will dominate the year 2021.

In the post-pandemic world, understanding the underlying currents of consumer behaviour is critical to make agile and informed business decisions. TV broadcast network News Nation has partnered with Adgully for this initiative and helped us reach a broad spectrum of experts in the business of advertising and media. More than a hundred conversations later, Trending Now has become a valuable resource for anyone grappling with the changes in the industry.

As part of the knowledge series, Adgully in partnership with News Nation curated a panel comprising of marketers and media planners to discuss ‘Advertising on News Channels without TRPs’ on March 26, 2021.

The Mumbai Police’s investigation into the TRP manipulation case led to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) of India suspending ratings for all news channels, affecting stakeholders and hundreds of crores in ad spends. While BARC continues to share ratings for the news genre as a whole, it will not resume ratings for individual news channels until an external committee examining the discrepancies in the TRP system submits its report. Marketers have reacted sharply to these developments and have continued to bet big on news channels despite there being no ratings.

Joining the discussions were:

Ashish Bajaj, Head of Marketing, MediBuddy

Linu John, Vice President, Zenith

Loveleen Gajria, Vice President - Media, Emami

Priti Murthy, Chief Executive Officer, OMD India

Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media, Dabur India

Vivek Srivastava, Managing Director, Innocean Worldwide India

The session was moderated by Adgully’s Founder and CEO, Bijoya Ghosh.

The conversation began with the key question of whether brands changed their media strategy post the TRP blackout on news channels.

OMD’s Priti Murthy remarked, “We don’t see money for news go out yet. If the situation doesn’t change in the next six months, then new ways will have to be figured out.” She believed that news channels budgets have been unaffected because of alternate sources of measurability and tracking available on this medium.

Along similar lines, Dabur’s Rajiv Dubey said, “We haven’t cut any budget for the news genre. In fact, last year was the year we over-indexed on news channels, much more than we usually do.” He noted that viewership had shifted to news genre, “News viewership, which was about 5-6% of the total viewership before the lockdown, moved to 21%. Even after the blackout, viewership numbers were still high as compared to the normal 5-6%,” he added.

On the other hand, Innocean Worldwide’s Vivek Srivastava observed that ad spends were moving to digital. He said, “On the client end there is a change, where they don’t want to be associated with sensationalism and want to look at responsible news. That’s a difficult line to draw. We have seen a move to digital spends in our set of clients within the agency. The budgets for other medium did increase and more money was put into digital, sports and other genre. Measurability, trackability and moving away from the limelight news channels were in, further facilitated this shift.”

Speaking about the viewership of news channels, Zenith’s Linu John said, “The viewership of news channels hasn’t shifted. People are still watching news and we advertise to reach to a certain set of audience. Unless we are under indexing, moving away from that medium means losing out on those audiences that we were leveraging before. As an agency, we continue to spend on news channels on similar lines as we did before.”

According to BARC India, news channels blackout would remain in place for 12 weeks. Medibuddy’s Ashish Bajaj noted, “Watching TV is a habit. Even with the data not available, the viewers and channels are not just going to go away. When ratings shifted from TAM Media Research to BARC, the Rs 35,000 crore media industry was alive and well even, though there was a much longer ratings blackout. The campaigns continued to happen and people continued to spend.

Emami’s Loveleen Gajria concurred, “While as advertisers we don’t have ratings, consumers have moved to real time news, which is what the news channels can give them with round the clock reporting. Several events like the Indo-China Conflict, US Elections, Farmers’ Protest and the momentum of these events has garnered a lot of eyeballs.”

Adding further, she said, “We also look at digital numbers and see the interest of news as a genre. We don’t see those dropping and that reflects consumer behavior on TV as well, nobody is moving away from news.”

Watch the complete discussion here…

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