This festive season the new kid on the block, e- commerce, dominated prime time slots of all the leading television channels. This is not surprising given that all players are now flush with funds and have been getting increasingly competitive.
The resultant advertising boost was a game changer as the consumer used to appliances telecom and FMCG advertisements, was exposed to the e-commerce ad blitz on all platforms, but especially on television.
Media reports had suggested that the e-commerce industry is likely to spend Rs 250- 300 crore on advertising. E-commerce festive ad spends on TV was said to increase by 257 per cent since last year according to audience aggregation platform for TV, SureWaves. Also, there were expectations of a 20-25 per cent growth in ad spends over September, according to media reports. Apart from e-commerce, heavy spending was expected from automobile and mobile companies besides traditional big spenders such as FMCG (August upswing in consumer mood to power festive ad spends on TV). While the elections gave the television industry a much-needed boost despite the chaos over ad cap and digitisation, we spoke to the key TV players about the festive season revenues.
Ashok Venkatramani, CEO, MCCS feels it was a season with a mixed bag. He said, “Traditional sectors like FMCG, realty and telecom were below expectations. However, sectors like e-commerce, auto, lighting and durables have done well. The state elections coincided with this period and that helped.” Commenting on the spends from e-commerce players, he said: “Yes they have really splurged and that has helped. They have probably been helped by fresh funding.” Venkatramani also said that there is about 10-15 per cent upsurge in ad spends, which is expected to go down post the festive season.
Ritu Dhawan, Managing Director, India TV feels advertising remained average this festive season partly because both Dussehra and Diwali were in the same month and majority of clients chose shorter spells to optimise their spending which otherwise is spread over a month or more. SMEs were also less active than last year when they were spending more on Assembly elections in the major states. She reiterated that automobiles along with e-commerce players have been the top spenders while consumer electronics as a category has spent decent advertising dollars. “E-commerce is still a sunrise sector in India which is witnessing rapid growth, and big advertising is characteristic of this stage in a business life cycle…” she said, adding, “There is almost a 25 per cent increase in advertising revenues.”
R K Arora, Group CEO, ITV Network is of the opinion that the shorter duration of the festive season curtailed ad spends somewhat. “While e- commerce did well this time as a new entrant, other sectors too have been doing some innovation ads,” he said while pegging the increase in advertising and revenue at 25 per cent.
Similarly, Ashish Sehgal, Chief Sales Officer, ZEEL feels that both Dussehra and Diwali falling in the same month did impact the ad spends. The two major festivals contributed to inventory crunch on TV. “In print that is not the case as they can extend space to accommodate brands, but on TV channels, there is limited inventory,” he said, pegging the growth in ad revenues during the festive season at 20-25 per cent.
The theory of two back-to-back festivals affecting ad revenues does not have some takers. Rohit Gupta, President, Multi Screen Media (MSM) for instance, does not subscribe to the view. “The campaigns are not for one week, they are run for 12-13 weeks. This entire season was very good when you compare it to last year’s because so many new categories have come up. All our channels have done well during Diwali; we were completely sold out with not a single second of inventory left. Some channels have done extremely well and while growth is very heavy, the base is low. I would say an average of 20 per cent is how revenues have grown (this festive season).”
This point of view was shared by S K Barua, CEO, Food Food, who pegged the growth in ad revenues at 10-15 per cent.
Despite the many factors that were weighing them down, including a shorter festive season, broadcasters have clearly benefited from increased ad spends from both sunrise and traditional sectors this year.