Delhi polls: Traditional media ad spends to see 10-15% hike from last assembly elections

Experts say while political parties are going for innovations in outdoor advertising, new media platforms too have emerged to engage voters

e4m by Anjali Thakur & Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jan 10, 2020 9:04 AM

In a slow market advertising is known to take the biggest hit, but political parties seem to be immune to it in terms of election media spends.

Ad spends by political parties for the upcoming Delhi assembly polls are expected to be between Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore.

The magnitude of the spends can be gauged with a quick comparison of the spends in the last Delhi assembly elections of 2015. According to ASSOCHAM estimates, five years back political parties spent about Rs 200 crore for all the campaigning spends put together.

The report, published after the last assembly polls, said the bulk of the funds were spent by the parties rather than individual candidates, and most of it went to the high cost Print and Electronic Media. 2020 is no different.

“Political parties don’t get affected by the economic lull. Parties will have to communicate what they stand for and they will have to communicate in a manner that they reach out to as many people as possible. To effectively reach out to a population of Delhi, which is around 2 crore, parties will have to do some amount of media spends,” said Rajul Kulshreshtha, Chief Executive Officer, Madison Media Plus.

“Recession will affect the number of people involved in the campaigning but it won’t stop them from spending on advertising. The flip side is, this is the only time people will make money,” Kulshreshtha added.

According to Pramod Bhandula, Executive Chairman of outdoor advertising brand Jcdecaux, “This time around a lot of innovation will take place. For instance, Aam Aadmi Party has already started talking to their core voter base. They are going all out and have used all kinds of mediums to conceptualise their political campaigns. Be it Print, TV, Radio, OOH and DOOH, they have been quite aggressive on all fronts. Political parties never leave any stone unturned when it comes to advertising.”

Talking of going all out, while outdoor, radio, TV and print could see close to 10-15% hike in ad spends when compared to 2015, according to experts it is social media that will prove to be the game changer in terms of ad spends this time around. “Upscale of investments in social media will command upward of 25%-30% of total ad spends by each political party said experts,” said a media buyer. Parties have also been generous with funds for social media advertising and have pushed the overall budget for the medium by at least 30%.

“Five years is a very long time in advertising and the ecosystem too has changed dramatically in this time frame. The ways in which audiences can be reached today have increased, new media platforms have emerged, more accountable opportunities exist and these most certainly will need be part of the mix, increasing the spends positively for sure,” said Fabian Cowan, Director, Posterscope India.

Elaborating what has changed the most, Himanka Das, CEO, Vizeum said, “When it comes to upscaling of investments by political parties, it is primarily driven by growth of social media as a key tool of communication. Instant feedback has made this media a favourable one amongst political parties. Yes, traditional media is still used for campaigning as well but there is only so much that one can do because inventory doesn’t grow. For instance, the OOH space has remained constant for Delhi, be it 2015 or 2020. On the other hand, social media is evolving with not just more conversation but also content that grabs the voters’ attention, and communicates the desired message.”

Interestingly, radio, which had an important role to play in the 2015 elections, is equally present this time too. The numbers are said to be at least 10 per cent more this time and incumbent Chief Minster and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s radio jingles are hard to miss this time too.

In terms of political strategies, Anup Sharma, Independent Political Communications Consultant said: “A lot of investment will also go in countering the narratives. 2015 was more of a revolution for the citizens, this time the challenge for Aam Aadmi Party will be to showcase their achievements, whereas BJP will try to counter the underdevelopment.”

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