Advertising spends for this festive season are expected to grow by 25-30 per cent more compared to last year, according to an Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) research paper released in August.
“Nearly 69 per cent of the marketing heads said that companies see in the festive season a perfect time to advertise their products... By increasing their ad spend by up to 30 per cent this festive season, the corporates are hoping for a commensurate rise in their sales hoping that the consumer confidence will return with the new Modi government taking incremental measures to boost the economy,” said the ASSOCHAM paper.
Besides the usual suspects such as consumer durables, electronics and auto companies, a blitzkrieg, the paper said, is expected from e-commerce companies.
Policymakers and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also expect the boost in consumer spending in the period – beginning with Navratras, through Durga Puja, Diwali and up to Christmas – to rev up GDP growth to 5.5-6 per cent.
There have been other signs of the coming ad-spend hike, including reports on exchange4media (http://www.exchange4media.com/57173_auto-sector-hits-top-gear-spends-big-on-tv.html), the TYNY 2014 report by GroupM, and the Pitch-Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2014.
And with key sectors such as automobile posting double-digit profits for the first time in two years, optimism has been building that marketing spends will flow onto television screens.
“I foresee festive ad spends on TV to increase in comparison to last year by about 20-25 per cent. I think cars, consumer durables and e-commerce [ad spends] should go up. I think it [the growth] will be mainly driven by e-commerce websites due to the new rounds of funding they have received,” said Atul Sharma, GM, Starcom MediaVest Group.
Some media reports have said that ad spends during the during the Onam-Diwali period are expected to increase by Rs 2,000 crore, the largest spending in advertising in the last five years.
Vaishali Verma, VP, Lodestar-UM, said a lot of companies will be spending nearly 40 per cent of their annual advertising budgets during the festive season.
“E-commerce I think is the new category which is going to change the rules of the game, but otherwise consumer durables have always been big spenders [on television], and electronic [goods] companies like Samsung, LG have always been aggressive with their handsets and devices,” Verma said.
Ashish Sehgal, Chief Sales Officer, ZEEL, said the e-commerce, auto, and mobile categories appear very bullish. “And other sectors are not reducing their ad spends [either] so ad spends are increasing,” he added.
Though companies have been facing high interest rates, rising material costs and wages, the marketing spends on media – especially on television – have become unavoidable.
Krishna Desai, Executive Director and Network Head-Kids, South Asia, Turner International India, said consumer goods will be hyperactive as usual on TV in the festive season, and other companies that will hike up ad spending are automobile companies, and children's brands.
Most channels are also buzzing with content activity to catch the ad-spend flood, with premieres and launches timed around festivals.
For example, Life OK is looking at shows like Dare2dance, a fiction series and a comedy to hike up ratings.
“A lot of new content is coming out and Diwali is a good time to do it,” said Ajit Thakur, GM & Business Head, Life OK and Channel V. Desai called Diwali “a marquee event on our channels”, and promised special shows and movie premieres.
Sehgal also promised formal announcements soon for special content.
Amar Tidke, SVP & Head of Content, 9X Media, said they have always had special programming during the festive season. “Last year we had music based innovations for Diwali and special content planned with our characters Bade and Chote, and all that is lined up this year. But for now we are focusing on the show 9XE, which we have just launched,” Tidke said.
However, media planners believe that brand spends on TV will increase irrespective of special programming.
“Channels don’t need any special plans to attract brands. Even if they don’t have any festive programming planned they still will get a decent amount of advertising. Of course there are a large amount of properties which are coming up [during the festive season] such as Bigg Boss and other such big properties. Irrespective of this, there will be a decent jump in the advertising spends during the coming festival season,” said Harish Shriyan, COO, OMD.
He put the ad-spend growth figure in double digits, and agreed e-commerce will see a lot of action on TV.
Verma pointed out that with limited inventory – due to the 12 minutes to an hour cap – the only way for channels to make the most of the festive bounty it is to hike ad rates.
“Channels are offering a lot of impact shows during this time – like KBC and Bigg Boss – and cricket is also taking place and a lot of these newer platforms are coming in, hence overall advertising rates go up,” Verma said.
The battle for festive eyeballs has truly begun.