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Are advertisers bullish with festive ad spends this year?

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Are advertisers bullish with festive ad spends this year?

One month into the crucial festive season that sees nearly 30-40% of overall ad spends, industry insiders say that advertising spends are on the right track. According to early predictions, ad spends during the 2017 festive season were estimated to grow by 15-20% over last year. A total of Rs 24,000 cr is expected to be spent over the two-month period.

Noting that the trend for ad spends is following early predictions, Ashish Bhasin, ‎Chairman & CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, said, “October is likely going to be a good month. There will be a 15-20% increase in ad spends compared to last year because the base is lower due to the impact of demonetisation in the second half of the festive season last year.”

While many called the implementation of GST and demonetisation a double whammy for the advertising industry, ad spends have not been heavily impacted, said some experts. “Even though the industry had apprehensions post GST and demonetisation, we predict that ad spends will be in the range of 15-18% higher than the last festive season,” said Krishna Kumar Revanur, Branch Head – South, iProspect India.

MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network, is also optimistic about the festive season, “If September is an indication, there is good growth in festive months. Over a subdued Q2, I think Q3 will have high growth. Between 35-50% is my estimate. But one must bear in mind that Q2 is a low base. And Q3 last year was demonetisation announcement.”

The CMO of a leading fashion apparel retailer said that the festive spirit among consumers is strong, reflecting in high ad spends from the retailer. “Ad spends from our end are in the double digit and maybe higher than 15% over last year’s spends,” he said.

Digital Growth Robust

Digital advertising will drive growth this year, experts felt. Industry consensus is that digital ad spends will make up for the lack of other spends by other mediums. The fierce competition between Amazon and India has already seen a huge ad blitz this festive season.

According to reports, e-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon have spent a cumulative Rs 100 cr on advertising for their respective annual sale events - Big Billion Days and Great Indian Festival. According to Red Seer Management Consulting, the gross GMV for the e-tailing industry during the five-day sale as a whole was expected to reach up to Rs 10,000 cr or USD 1.7 bn, up from USD 1.05 bn recorded in 2016 festive season. Kumar said that all trends point to a robust digital growth this festive season, be that in terms of traffic, revenue or sales.

AD Revenue

Advertising revenue has been healthy during September. Sony Pictures Network (SPN) has witnessed satisfactory performance from all its channels which helped grow revenues substantially. Kaun Banega Crorepati saw a complete sell-out of its ad inventory, said Rohit Gupta, President – Network Sales & International business, SPN. “We got good response from sponsors. That helped us grow our revenues substantially during this festive season especially in September. This year has been good for us. We are growing substantially from April to September as a network and otherwise. We are continuing the trend of growing double than the market (way beyond double digit). September has been an excellent month on the back of all the big properties.”

Anand has seen significant growth in September compared to August, though it has not yet returned to normal for the network. He said, “I see this picking up further in the coming months as the impact of the major reform steps settles down. Diwali should hopefully further improve the situation.”

At this mid-way point during the festive season, the sentiment seems positive in some corners of the industry. Bhasin said that the industry seems to be improving during the festive season, but that it was too early to call as the real test will be after Diwali.

Negative Sentiment

Some feel that the spending is not as high as expected. According to Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer, 9X Media, September saw some recovery compared to July-August but it’s around 7-8%. “Brands are taking strategies genre wise. They will campaign in selected genres. That’s killing the market. I am not seeing a major recovery, mostly single-digit growth.”

On festive season spending he adds, “E-commerce has to spend because it’s a festive season and consumer spending goes up. Brands have to be present across mediums. But the problem is the spends aren’t much. There are some genres which show much better CPRPs and deliver more growth than the non-CPRP driven channels like English.”

On that note he isn’t expecting more than 7-8% hike in festive spending over last year for the industry. “Overall economy is in a bad shape. Festive is not the indication of the health of the industry. We won’t be able to perform as per the projections.”

SPN has seen decent spending from the telecom and automobile categories. “Spending from handset, e-commerce and consumer goods is relatively low compared to last year,” said Gupta.

He also observed that with the festive season being crunched to four weeks the spending is not as buoyant as it has been in the past. “This year, a lot of categories are not firing.”

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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.