Unlock, festive season spur adspends on Print, exceeding pre-COVID period

With the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns disrupting the production and distribution of newspapers across India, leading to a steep drop in readership and circulation. How the Unlock periods and the festive season this year has seen Print back in the black as the medium saw a huge surge in consumption at record levels in the markets, across verticals. Almost every sector is seeing a resurgence in demand during the festive season and as a result, large format advertising such as gatefolds, jackets, and full pages are making a strong comeback. Advertisers are increasingly resorting to hyperlocal Indian language newspapers as they offer bigger bang for their buck.

According to a recent TAM AdEx’s comparative analysis, Ad Space in Print rose by 37% in July'21 compared to July’20. Over 70 new categories, 15.9K+ new advertisers and 19.1K+ new brands were seen in Print during July’21 over July’20.

Hospitals/ Clinics among the categories saw the highest increase in Ad Space with growth of 95%, followed by Properties/ Real Estates with 2x growth during July’21 compared to July’20. Over 280 growing categories were present in July'21, compared to July’20 in Print.

Speaking on the projections of overall ad spends in the print media amid the pandemic, Sivakumar Sundaram, Chairman Executive Committee, BCCL, said, “We are confident of continuing the trend of outdoing our 2019 numbers for the rest of the year. The outlook is looking very positive. You would have seen the buoyancy in our papers during the festive period with bumper issues and high impact innovations across markets. The recent super panorama innovation for Maruti, more than a week after Diwali, is an example that the brands expect optimism to continue in the market.”

Harrish Bhatia, President Sales and Marketing, Dainik Bhaskar Group, pointed out, “Advertisers are showing increased inclination towards print media; this is apparent with the continuous uptrend in revenue since August 2021. We are also hopeful that ad-spend in print media may further increase in the coming months.”

With major amounts being spent during the festive period, print has touched a new milestone of recovery in the post-pandemic scenario outgrowing its performance even in a pre-COVID-19 year, that is, 2019 and clearly far better than the festive season of 2020. “Particularly talking about Dainik Bhaskar, we have been able to achieve good double digit growth over 2020-21 and over 2019-20 in the festive season,” said Bhatia.

Adding further, he said, “In this festive season, apart from existing clients, we have seen significant participation from New Clients, which were non-advertisers in the previous years. This clearly shows that the brands are trusting print media advertising which is attracting the new clients.”

“We have focussed extensively on the following to attract the consumers:

  • Idea based approach (To make the ads more lucrative to the consumers)
  • Print Innovations (Like Flap Jacket, French Window, Panorama etc)
  • “Building the event to lock the Business” we have driven this approach with the help of various campaigns to create hype in the market.

This has helped in generating better response for the clients, which has in-turn helped us getting multiple advertisements from the clients,” noted Bhatia.

Sundaram added here, “We are already seeing brands heavily using print, especially in the crucial festive period. Print has grown by 28%, which is 4x the rate of growth of TV ad spends at 7%. Within print itself, BCCL has been driving the growth with 64% growth from last year. Not only are they returning to print, but the English print growth is also much higher than language at 63% vs 17%.”

“We had multiple engaging campaigns and programs to make the most of this festive season. Entering the festive period, we did a unique campaign which asked readers what they wished to buy this festive season. It was a great insight into which categories rated high on their purchase list. Apart from that we ran local festive engagement from Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi etc. and festive-focused reader engagement programs like #MyCityMyFestival and #MyFavAdInTOI. These focused initiatives helped us engage the advertisers throughout the festive period,” he added.

As Internet access expands with the upcoming  technologies, traditional print players are also experimenting with these changes and co-exist with them both in the physical and digital space.

“The outlook for the rest of the year looks very positive. There is a lot of positivity, energy and vibrancy across categories. Brands are seeing demand returning and good results always bring more investments. We are also seeing brands slowly getting back into long term brand building campaigns, which is a strong sign of a buoyant market”, noted Sundaram.

According to Bhatia, “Looking at the positive trend since the last few months and the performance in the Festive period, we are quite hopeful that H2 will be further better for the print medium. Jewellery and lifestyle categories can see significant upside as this wedding season will be huge because most of the weddings planned during Apr- Jun '21 were postponed to Nov- Dec'21 due to COVID-19.”

While the print industry is seeing a positive revival, newspaper publishers have started witnessing recovery in advertising and circulation revenues. In the coming months, they might well need to face a crisis due to increased newsprint prices as they have been going upwards since December.


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