Dramatic growth in AdEx is expected primarily in the South markets: Sri Harsha

With first half of the year over, the focus of brands and agencies has now turned towards the festive season this year. Though the peak festive period of Dussehra-Durga Puja-Diwali is a month away, preparations are already afoot to woo consumers with various promotional strategies.

Over the years, the festive season has expanded – from the traditional period of Dussehra-Durga Puja-Diwali, it has moved forward to August, coinciding with the Independence Day marketing frenzy, followed by Raksha Bandhan. This then moves forward to cover the entire Onam period – though traditionally Kerala’s biggest festival, Onam today has assumed a more pan-India significance.

The festive season now doesn’t end with Diwali, but we have started seeing marketers beginning to bring in the mostly Western festive concepts of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In January, the traditionally harvest-based festivals of Lohri, Pongal, Makar Sankranti, and Magh Bihu are also being tapped as occasions for festive shopping, albeit on a smaller scale. Republic Day has also turned into a major sale occasion. These apart, Holi and Poila Boishakh/ Rongali Bihu, also see spurt in shopping in regional markets, more specifically West Bengal and Assam.

On top of it all, e-commerce platforms keep the sale season alive all round the year with some kind of offer or the other.

While the two years of Covid disruptions did dampen the festive spirit in the market, however with the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament being held during the festive seasons in 2020 and 2021, saw brand spends on a high during this period, even though consumers mostly stayed away from offline retail outlets.

Adgully’s special column, FESTIVE MOOD, seeks to give a holistic insight into ad spends, marketing strategies, consumer sentiments, promotional and communication plans, and more, around the festive season in India.

In conversation with Adgully, Sri Harsha, Senior Partner – Client Lead, Mudramax, speaks at length about the projections on advertiser spends during the festive season this year, categories that are expected to see accelerated growth, the need to re-look at existing NCCS definition to meet the current demands of the advertisers, and more.

Have the ad spends returned to the pre-Covid levels? Did you witness shifts in brands’ behaviour, especially after the effects of the pandemic ebbed?

As per 2021 AdEx, the TV medium has already made complete recovery by the end 2021 and showed slight growth over 2019 AdEx levels. As we all know, TV AdEx had dropped by 10% in 2020, compared to 2019. Print & Radio were the worst affected mediums, which saw a degrowth of over 40% each in 2020. Despite, most advertisers losing 1st quarter advertising due to the Covid 2nd wave last year, the average time spent by the consumers watching TV hasn’t dropped drastically with all the new age media around, maintaining viewing time of about 3 hours a day as per BARC data, reinstating confidence among the advertisers in the medium.

Advertisers have also realised the power of digital thanks to pandemic. We estimate digital to grow bigger in 2022 and might even equal TV spends to become joint largest medium in Indian AdEx by the end of 2022. The dramatic growth is expected primarily in the South markets through OTTs, short video Apps, E-commerce, performance marketing and Connected TV.

What are the innovative strategies and campaigns for advertising onboarding for the upcoming Onam season?

Most of the advertisers do offer-led campaigns during Onam. The challenge for the advertisers is that the attention span of the consumers is reducing. Hence, it is important to build curiosity among the consumers. Teasers followed by festive excitement offers have seen maximum benefit in the past.

What kind of ad spends are you expecting during the Onam season this year? Which categories are expected to see maximum traction?

About 116 categories advertised during Onam last year, leading to approximately Rs 300 crore business across mediums. Covid and floods had hit Kerala badly last year. Few advertisers had to pull out of the campaigns mid-way. However, this year looks bright and with most of the consumers being double vaccinated, the Covid fear is going away. The advertisers are likely to spend higher than 2021 levels and we are expecting to see more categories during Onam.

How does the future look like for you in particular and the overall industry in general? What are your outlook and growth projections for this year?

As per our estimation, the media industry is expected to touch Rs 1 lakh crore in calendar year 2022. Digital and TV are likely to be the growth drivers. Some of the fast-growing trends include Connected TV subscriptions and growing HD penetration.

The time has come for the industry to revamp and re-look at existing NCCS definition to meet the current demands of the advertisers. I feel, HD households measurement and representation should be closely monitored.


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