Worst over for Digital: Ad volumes pick up in Lockdown 4.0 after fall in three phases

Creatives were changed and briefs to agencies altered. Digital medium clearly saw a change in the pattern of advertising during the four phases of lockdown

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 16, 2020 4:40 PM

As India Inc enters into Unlock 1.0 with hopes of bringing back lost numbers to their balancesheets, looks like the worst for digital advertising is over. According to recent TAM data, in the four phases of the lockdown, it is only in the fourth phase where resurgence in ad insertion was observed.  This came after the digital medium faced a significant drop in ad insertion drop in first three phases of the lockdown.

Number Crunching
In the pre-lock down phase of 21 days, there were more than 42.5 crore average ads per day. In the first 21 days of lockdown, the number fell to 30.9 core, showing a fall of 27%. The second phase of the lockdown saw 30.6 crore average ads per day showing a drop of further 1%. The lockdown 3.0 of 14 days brought the number down by another 6%, touching 28.2 crore average ads per day. However, the last phase of lock down 4.0 saw the number shoot up to 30.08 crore, a total growth of 4%.

According to the data provided by TAM, looking at the ads on digital media during 68 days of four lockdowns, a 24 per cent decrease in ad insertions was witnessed compared with 68 days of pre-lockdown period. Number of advertisers fell from 10,604 in pre-lockdown to 10,144 during the lockdown. The number of brands also took a hit, falling from 13109 to 11968.

Top Brands & Advertisers
As per data, Amazon Online India was the leading advertiser on digital platforms during the lockdown and its brand Amazon.in had the second place in the brands' list. ICIC Prudential Life Insurance Company, Veeam Software, Grammarly Inc and Oppo India were the other names in the list of top 5 advertisers during the lockdown. The list for top 5 advertised brands during lockdown had ICICI Pru iProtect Smart,  Amazon.in, Veeam Software, Grammarly Keyboard and Oppo Reno3 Pro.

Communication During Lockdown
While shops closed and offices worked with staggered work force, consumers redefined priorities and necessities. Some unique brand categories came to the forefront on digital, catering to the needs of the new normal in the wake of the pandemic.
Creatives were changed and briefs to agencies were altered. Digital medium clearly saw a change in the pattern of advertising.
“We experienced a small pause from the lockdown to about 15th of April. Since then, we are broadly working on two types of communication across our clients which are brands who are restarting operations with COVID 19 safety norms to reassure their customers and brands who are now launching new products and services relevant to post-COVID world,” said Kiran Khadke - Co-Founder & Creative Head, Hyper Connect, a srategy led agency for the digital medium.
Khadke’s agency works with brands across various categories like D2C, Hospitailty, E-commerce, Financial services, FMCG, Government.“Most of them have become active now,” she said.
But who were the top advertisers in the lockdown that lead to the 4% increase in ad insertions in the fourth phase. According to TAM data, the top 5 categories advertising in the lockdown were Coaching/Competitive Exam Centre, Ecom-Education, Multiple Courses,Cellular Phones-Smart Phones and Corporate-IT.
Coaching/Competitive Exam Centre saw a growth of 3.6 times during the lockdown, followed by the second and third category at 2.1 times and 2 times growth.
But why did brands come back amid a slow economy? According to Indian Social networking service platform Sharechat, brands felt the need to stay connected with the consumers.
“When COVID-19 led to a nationwide lockdown at the end of March 2020,  the digital advertising industry entered into a temporary slowdown. At that point, there were only a few campaigns live with most brands calling off or delaying their campaigns. However, within a couple of weeks,  brands realized the need for staying connected with their audience and started exploring the digital space to stay relevant among their audience. May onwards, many brands started getting aggressive with their digital campaigns. However, the communication approach has shifted from brand-centric to COVID-centric, building awareness around COVID19, and creating a subtle brand connect,” said Satyajit Deb Roy, Director - Sales, ShareChat.
Talking about his own platform Deb Roy said, “With its unique proposition of being the only digital platform in India, where users hail from Tier 2,3,4 in their first language, brands look upon Sharechat as a priority platform for connecting with their regional audience. We have worked with more than 25+ brands and more than 50 campaigns during the period of lockdown from industry sectors like FMCG, Telecom, Insurance, gaming, e-commerce, and many others.”
Alongside staying connected and relevant, advertisers also returned to cash on the growing traffic on the medium. As per the BARC-Nielsen's ninth edition report, the viewership for live TV, movies and originals increased as lockdown set in. The time spent by sub-categories (content bases on Amazon Prime, Hotstar, MX Player online, Netflix, Voot, Zee5 ) for movies increased from 12% in pre-COVID times to 24 % (21March- 10 April) and later to 27% (25th April - 16 May). 
Similarly, time spent on original series increased from 5% in pre-COVID times to 19% during April 25 -May 16 period. The report also states the social networking, gaming, education on smartphone continue to be at much higher levels vs pre-COVID period.

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