Brands eye stronger recovery in ad spends this festive season

This is Part 2 of the series on how brands are gearing up for the festive season

MUMBAI:  The year 2020 was a game-changer on many counts for the world in general. Many brands that relied heavily on offline marketing and in-store shopping had no other option but to join the digital marketing bandwagon to engage with their consumers. Now with the festive season almost upon us, how are brands looking to attract eyeballs and consumer footfalls with persisting outdoor restrictions in many parts of the country?

According to the latest survey – ‘The Festive Season Pulse 2021’ conducted by global technology company, The Trade Desk, nearly 82 per cent of respondents said they shop online at least once a month with nearly one in four making online purchases several times a week.

“Digital consumption is at an all-time high,” highlights TVS Srichakra head, brand marketing Kavitha Ganesan citing the success of their recent integrated marketing campaign ‘Tyres for a Country full of Turns’. “However, for mass reach, the brand still relies on TV as the main medium. For a category like ours, it is critical to activate marketing campaigns with an integrated 360-degree approach. Hence BTL consumer and trade activations become important. We expect the category to place more and more impetus on the digital front and possibly lower the spends on print.”

Post-pandemic, the total time spent by Indians on media channels has gone up significantly. According to Havas Media India, managing partner- South, Saurabh Jain, Digital is now mainstream in level with Print, given its multifarious applications and measurable ROI.

“The growth in advertising would be led by Digital followed by TV, Print, OOH & Radio, yet TV will remain the biggest & most preferred medium for mass & incremental reach,” says Jain, highlighting how Big-ticket properties, especially cricket, have demonstrated the effectiveness of TV in brand building and scaling up reach in a cricket-frenzy nation.

According to industry estimates, advertisers are expected to invest Rs 4000-5000 crore on sporting properties on TV and Digital in the current scenario where the ad demand is higher than supply. “Print also seems to be much stronger in Unlock 2.0 as compared to the previous unlock,” adds Jain.

However, brand concur that there is a need to target the customer across multiple touchpoints to ensure they remain ‘top of the mind’ for consumers.

Fashion and lifestyle e-tailer Myntra expects a similar play between digital and mainline, and is implementing a 360-degree campaign approach, leveraging TV, Digital and social media platforms to cut across diverse markets and build a deeper brand salience with its customers across the country.

No doubt, industry experts expect high clutter across mediums, mainly TV and digital, this season. The emergent challenge for brands will be to drive more visibility amid this clutter, by looking for opportunities in print, OOH, and cinema.

“Brands will invest in high-impact properties to break the clutter and achieve high reach during campaigns. The Star group has managed to retain their sponsors for IPL and also roped in many more for the T20 world cup. Other key properties like KBC have already attracted multiple new sponsors,” says Madison Media Ultra COO Jolene Fernandes Solanki.

Apart from FMCG which leads the ad spends, advertising growth will also be seen across other categories like automobile, consumer durables, e-commerce, OTT, Ed-tech, mobile gaming, retail, tourism, and digital wallet payments. “We are observing a huge rise in new categories and advertisers through a whole bunch of start-ups emerging. They are likely to get active during this festive,” adds Solanki.

The rise of regional media is another trend that is set to capture the brands’ interest this season, according to agencies. The popularity of regional content and increasing internet penetration in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets will lead to content-driven marketing solutions at a regional level.

“Print could also see some recovery during this festive season,” opines iProspect’s Kaushik Chakraborty. “The second half of 2021 is witnessing a resurgence in print advertising with brands returning to the medium in a big way. Large-format ads/Jackets have witnessed an increase in recent weeks.”

However, OOH still has a tough road ahead, with most brands still cautious about investing in outdoor advertising amid apprehension of a third wave coming. However, both OOH and radio are likely to do better than 2020, say experts.

TV and Digital have witnessed a steady increase. In terms of ad spends, Television will continue to have the highest share - over 40 per cent - of overall ad spends at the back of IPL and T20 WC, followed closely by Digital with 34 per cent share.  The overall ad market is forecast to grow by a further 12.4 per cent in 2022, recovering to pre-pandemic levels suggest reports.

Furthermore, brands are expected to invest in impact shows such as Amitabh Bachchan hosted KBC, Salman Khan hosted Big Boss and the soon-to-be-launched Big Picture hosted by Ranveer Singh.

“Brands have understood the importance of a split spending budget in order to obtain better results,” says Admitad Affiliate India, head - ecommerce vertical, Abhijit Banerjee. “To reconfigure their marketing strategy they are investing in partnerships and collaborations with an array of channels to keep the festive spirit intact. Not only that, with each year brands allocate a lot of budgets for inventories like cashback and coupons for lucrative deals and offers.”

The three festive months of October, November, and December constitute an important decisive phase for brands and affiliate channels as they expect to reap the benefits of these increased ad spends. With regards to expenditures, high-impact properties, integrations, and video platforms are the focus areas for brands apart from their usual channels which are scaling up.

“Everyone wants to tell a brand story that brings festive cheer and brands are trying to do this with the help of such platforms. The entire ecosystem is now very enthusiastic about this new growth and is passionately driving the adoption of various new products and service offerings which is clearly visible to us,” says Logicserve Digital founder and CEO Prasad Shejale.

According to Grapes Digital founder and CEO Himanshu Arya, brands like Automobile, FMCG, and E-commerce players could spend around 25 to 30 per cent on digital, which can increase further during the festive period from Dussehra to Diwali. For specific categories like electronics, consumer durables, and jewellery, the festive period is the most crucial time as the maximum sale is derived during this season.

There is also a lot of advancement in the Connected TV ecosystem and this space is expected to grow multifold, believe industry executives. The media options are limited at the moment and thus there is definitely a lot of din and chaos in the available media mix and brands would need to put extra effort to stand out from the crowd this season.

“There is no surprise that the media planning is lopsided towards digital. Having said that, Activation is back in the game and we have delivered fantastic results to brands from activations conducted in a safe environment. So, apart from digital, anything that breaks clutter and delivers ROI for brands will definitely find a place in the media mix,” says CupShup co-founder Sidharth Singh.

Marketing strategies are now pandemic-ready. Earlier marketing calendars would be lopsided towards offline and ATL with less than 10 per cent of budgets assigned to digital marketing and most companies didn't have basics in place on digital distribution, logistics, and spending metric on digital.

“Today marketers have evolved and have digitised their businesses. They are present where their consumer is. There is a healthy ratio of spends across platforms. Marketers are more agile and flexible. Communication calendars are being prepared with Plan A’s and Plan B’s. The mood out there is to win over with all the possible preparations and see an upside,” says Tonic Worldwide chief strategy officer and director, India and MENA Region, Unmisha Bhatt.

Wunderman Thompson, South Asia chairman and Group CEO, Tarun Rai sums up, “India is not one India but ‘many Indias’ with different media consumption habits. As a result, there is a role for both traditional and non-traditional media in the country. We have seen how newspaper advertising has bounced back in the last few months. In fact, many digital-only brands are now using newspapers as a medium and spending huge sums on wrap-around front-page ads." So, while digital will continue to grow at a fast clip and may even overtake TV in a couple of years, he believes both traditional and digital media are here to stay for, at least, the next decade.

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