2020 for media: How to seek opportunities in an uncertain year

Guest Column: Amol Dighe, CEO, Madison Media Ultra & Head Investments, pens down what to expect from media & advertising in 2020 and what brands can do differently this year

e4m by Amol Dighe
Updated: Feb 17, 2020 8:46 AM  | 5 min read



What looked like a robust start to the year, 2019 became the year of fluctuating fortunes. In the first half, TRAI’s NEW Tariff Order regulation was observed across genres/markets on Television. The pull-out by 9 Major Broadcast Players from free dish, predominantly Hindi mass entertainment channels, which affected approx. 30 million subscribers, majorly disrupted FTA viewership. The pull-out created a vacuum on regional GRPs, especially rural which further resulted in the drop in time spent. This posed a challenge for Media Planning on TV. The second quarter of 2019 was a Blockbuster due to the IPL, National Elections and the Cricket World Cup. However, quarter 4 was disappointing due to the economic slowdown. Overall in 2019, mainline mediums like TV dropped to single-digit growth, but print showed a modest growth due to the success of Quarter 2.

The impact of the economic slowdown is visible in the current media spends and across brands. Initially, Adex was estimated to grow by 16.4 per cent, however, with the current steering of the economy, Adex growth was revised to less than 12 per cent. TV continues to be the largest contributor in the advertising pie, followed by print and digital. Print spends faced a consistent challenge since 2014 while digital is on the growth path. AMJ on the back of sports & news/elections saw higher investments relative to other quarters. IPL and Cricket World Cup during AMJ 2019, contributed majorly towards media spends. This period also saw reduced FMCG spends on Mainline GEC as well as second-line GEC in the same period.

In 2020, FMCG continues to be the most dominant sector followed by Auto, Telecom and Education. The E-commerce industry which took the media market by storm three years ago now contributes to only 6 per cent to Adex and currently, the category is steaming hot on spends.

The Growth of Digital

Years ago, we termed ‘Digital’ as ‘New Age Media’. Today, it is as mass as we all know. Internet users in India have reached 627Mns wherein Rural is growing faster and this number is dynamic. With penetration growing so are the different branches within Digital. Content is at a rise and OTT platforms are also driving regional content. Fantasy gaming is on an all-time rise in India. Reaching out to consumers through Programmatic advertising is key and with this, TV+ planning is taking shape.

Digital is growing at an extremely healthy rate across categories. Internet penetration and adoption of Digital Media is growing at a fast pace. Access to the internet through Smart Phones has been on the rise. Strong data science and analytics is helping Brands in better evaluation. Technology in Digital is enabling Marketers to choose innovative ways to reach out to their Target Audience. Hence, Digital will continue to sustain this growth in the future.

With growing penetration of Digital due to low tariff rates caused by the data disruption, Video streaming has gained faster pace. Consumers today are spending close to 36 mins per day on Videos, which is the highest among any other online activity. Video consumption is creating demand for Regional content and consumers are looking for content in their preferred language.

Leading content generation platforms have already started focusing more on Hindi and other Indian languages. While 95 per cent of YouTube videos consumed are in regional languages, apps such as DailyHunt and ShareChat are allowing people to consume content in multiple languages. All major OTT players are creating or streaming Local language content. There is demand, and supply is taken care of. With all this happening, there is a need to efficiently and effectively deploy digital marketing which has given rise to Programmatic advertising. Building further efficiency and effectiveness to marketing plans, advertising is moving towards integrated planning for Video. With TV as the base, TV+ digital planning ensures CPRP efficiency, and widening reach. More importantly, Digital Medium is no longer a support medium. It has overtaken print share and hence will be the No 2 medium spends. Also, normalising currencies with TV has made it a great alternative for mass spenders as well.

Expectations with 2020

We expect that consumer demand will pick up in 2020 due to the steps being undertaken by the Government to revive the economy, which will lead to higher spends on Advertising. 2020 might see more product launches which were postponed due to the weak consumer demand in 2019.

On TV with the new rules for NTO, rural planning will undergo a change depending on the available FTA Bouquet. So Urban + Rural or only rural focussed brands will have to change the TV mix. This will go back to Pre NTO scenario wherein with the inclusion of FTA channels advertisers will get back their rural GRPs which got suddenly vanished. The need to reinvest in print trading practice by leveraging print for activation by focussing on certain geographies and reaching out to consumers not covered by measurement. Marquee events like IPL and Cricket World Cup will continue to drive impact for Brands and there will be a big opportunity to experiment in focussed markets. 

Strategies brands should adopt in 2020 & How will they be different than 2019

Well, we see 2020 as a year of opportunity in Media. It will be a year to try out new strategic alliances without worrying too much of the impact. It will be a year to take positions which deliver efficiencies for the Brands. Hence, channel choices will be critical. Sharp focused regional planning will also come into play. Overall, 2020 will be a cautious year where planning and buying strategies will have to be dynamic and flexible to change.


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