Media networks that were banking on Diwali for some sparkle in advertising sales are bracing themselves for a damp squib. With less than two weeks to go for the Diwali, all indicators point to a dip in ad sales of 5 per cent to 20 per cent. The decline is more pronounced in print than television, as advertisers continue to be wary of the sluggish market and dull consumer sentiment.
Industry analysts point out that several manufacturers have offered promotions through the year to entice reluctant consumers to buy; that has eaten into ad budgets and also reduced the need to advertise heavily around Diwali.
Some national advertisers may be pulling back now after high spends on cricket this year, encouraged by an in-form Indian team, and in anticipation of the spend on the ICC World Cup in February, which falls in the current fiscal year.
As a result, the media are suffering from a double whammy: regular advertisers have cut back on ad spends, and non-seasonal advertisers who are not dependent on the festival season have anyway pulled back. For some advertisers, this has given them greater bargaining power in negotiating rates.
The mood is not as upbeat at media sales offices: the bright spot is that the current decline is less than the whopping 20 per cent decline last year. Diwali still accounts for a big share of total print ad sales - about 15 per cent, as compared to New Year and Pongal/Sankranti, which make up about 20 per cent of ad sales - but there have been some shifts in advertising patterns, said a senior executive.
The time period for Diwali advertising has come down by almost 50 per cent, from a month before the festival a few years ago, to just two weeks in recent years. Also, while retail, jewellery and some consumer durables still account for a significant part of print media's advertising, the value of textiles has come down as more players have opted for TV.