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Festive Marketing: This festive season is clearly showing an appetite for programmatic ads

With the festive season on full swing and the market – both offline and online – agog with deals, discounts and new launches, consumers are spoilt for choices and are looking to increases their purchases this year after two slow years on account of demonetisation and GST. According to the KPMG 2018 report, digital adoption is expected to spearhead strong growth in digital advertising at 30.2 per cent CAGR.  

Consumer sentiment on a high 

After a tough two years on account of demonetisation and GST, this year looks far more positive. According to Shradha Agarwal, COO, Grapes Digital, “Most of the consumer categories see 30 per cent of their annual sale during this festive season. With Internet being more and more at the fingertips, Indian consumers are looking forward to using the Internet not only for shopping this time, but also for researching moments and content. They are turning to Internet to learn and celebrate.” 

“India is a land of festivals and hence, as every festive season is looked at as an auspicious occasion to purchase goods and products, marketing budgets will surely go up this time around too,” remarked Soham Bhagnari, Business Head - West, Foxymoron.

Along similar lines, Akshay Gurnani, CEO & Co-Founder, Schbang, said, “Quite frankly, the intent is the same as it is during any festive season in India. People have saved up, made plans and budgeted, now is the time for them to execute (spend).”  

He further added that it is interesting to observe that consumer sentiment is much more relaxed compared to the earlier years as they have more stability in their finances. “They have braved the stormy days of GST and demonetisation. And now they have figured out this puzzle to plan their finances (and thus purchases) better. There’s a lot of consumer confidence that is evident in the pre-festive numbers, which is heartening. Bearing in mind the key festivals – Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Diwali, Christmas, and also wedding seasons, we are expecting to see the biggest spike in sales from the FMCG + consumer durables and automobile sectors this season,” Gurnani said. 

Giving a marketer’s perspective, Tejinder Gill, Vice President - Global Sales & Head of India Operations, Truecaller, noted, “This festive season is clearly showing an appetite for programmatic ads. Brands/ marketers and other verticals are looking aggressively at an in-app advertising platforms for brand promotions. In today’s world, a user spends almost three hours every day on the phone and they browse around 11 apps every day. So, time spent on these apps is very high. With this, a brand can get high scalability and visibility and now get maximum opportunity to interact with the consumers.” 

“Overall, I think the sentiment is very positive and good. Also, digital will remain at the core part in the overall advertising pie,” he affirmed. 

Growth in ad spends 

Gill is expecting a hike of around 40 per cent in Truecaller’s ad spends during this festive season. 

On the other hand, Omkar Joshi, Business Head, Schbang, remarked that quantity-wise there is a 20-25 per cent increase depending on the industry. He added, “Brands have realised that consumers are more confident of spending after a couple of slow years. This is a no-brainer really. It is needless to say that with the growing number of smartphone users in the country, along with Internet revolution by Jio, the online purchasing behaviour is drastically changing in the Tier 2 cities.” 

Joshi found the quality side truly interesting. Brands have had 2-3 years of consistent spends on digital channels and have gone through at least 2 clear festive periods. This data is now being put to use in an extremely smart manner for media effectiveness and outcome-based planning.  

“Last year, the average ad spends was 25-30 per cent, this year it will be around 30-35 per cent. This is because the average data consumption shoots up at such times,” pointed out Foxymoron’s Bhagnari. 

According to Agarwal of Grapes Digital, overall advertising spends during the festive season this year is expected to be in the range of Rs 25K crore, which will be approximately 10-12 per cent higher than last year. E-commerce, Handsets and Auto will be the major contributors with their new launches around Diwali. But this time I am expecting OTT channels like Netflix, etc., where there might be a spike in advertising.” 

Media platforms garnering major share during festive season 

“Social, Search and YouTube are by default the major gainers. Other major platforms that will see jump are e-tail platforms with their Search ads and festive packages; Programmatic, in order to target the right buying audience; and Hyperlocal Marketing to bridge the gap between offline and online transactions,” said Agarwal. 

Bhagnari is placing his bets on the digital medium as festivals are a great time for brands to generate organic engagement on social media and added that the scope for festive buying has evolved with applications and tech innovations. 

According to Gill, “Mobile will get majority of the share. And, within mobile, I think programmatic will be a key area because that is the one area where brands are looking out aggressively.” 

For Schbang’s Joshi, Google and Facebook eco-systems will remain the leaders as their reach and conversion funnels are still unmatched. He added, “OTT has emerged as a very strong channel given that the freemium service providers have way higher active subscribers compared to the premium-only ones. Having said that, we can expect heavy focus on programmatic spends and re-marketing ads to re-kindle consumer interest in a specific product/ brand, leading to the final conversion.” 

Engagements around festive season 

“The brands that have invested in the pre-festive months shall reap the dividends during the festive season in terms of engagement. Digital platforms will see a hike in offers and giveaways during the season to capture their loyal consumer base. Their interactions will skyrocket. While the brands focus on reach and frequency, the quality of the content during the period will set them apart from all the noise. It is important to stay ahead of the curve at all times. After all, this is India’s SuperBowl season,” remarked said Schbang’s Gurnani. 

Grapes Digital's Agarwal, too, noted that apart from shouting “Buy Now”, a lot of brands will engage with their audience around the festive mood with content marketing. With a lot of brands who have diverted their funds towards moment marketing, I am expecting huge engaging content from brands this year.” 

“Festive seasons in India, or anywhere in the world, are golden times for brands to leverage creatively and topical content, increasing organic engagement and interactions. Facebook and Instagram will surely gather a huge share of spends as during such a time, it will be a battle of the brands for their voice to be the loudest,” concluded Foxymoron’s Bhagnari.

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