Donning Navratri ‘jackets', newspapers hopeful of a cheerful festive season

With almost all leading print players increasing the number of pages to accommodate ads ahead of the festival season, we find out if the print industry is really picking up?

e4m by Apeksha Mishra
Updated: Oct 12, 2018 8:23 AM
festival logo

With the festive sale fireworks around, brands are advertising heavily across media to promote their offers and boost sales. And the print industry, it seems, is getting a fair share of this money. Several publications have expanded their inventory to cash in on the occasion. The Hindustan Times and Times of India on Wednesday and Thursday had multiple jackets with their editions.


So, with all this festive advertising, is the print industry really picking up? Going by experts, there might be a 10 per cent hike overall. "In fact, discounting via schemes and offers and paid+free bundling are the norms. It seems to be a tough market. Season improvements is 5-7 per cent so far against expectations of 15 per cent," says CEO of a leading newspaper. 


According to Debabrata Mukherjee, Executive Director, Hindustan Times Media, the initial response from advertisers has been promising enough for the print industry this festive season.


“However, it's too early to provide one with exact numbers. There is good tailwind in the businesses of most categories that advertise with us, despite the minor speed bumps. Hence our medium should benefit, as it goes a long way in providing further momentum in showcasing our advertisers’ products and services. We have done this ably in the past, and this year also, we are planning to provide unflinching support to all our advertisers. I hope that this festival season, as in the past, will bring good tidings for the print industry."


Going back in history, print has always seen a gain during the festive times. Anita Nayyar, CEO, India & South Asia, Havas Media Group, believes that brands have been and will continue to use print effectively. Given the call-to-action attribute of print, brands have been and will continue to use print effectively. Festivity always brings a positive feeling, and with elections approaching, print should see a gain in the coming months,” Nayyar says.


Festive ads: Maximise spends


Going heavy on ad, the Times of India came out with multiple jacket advertisements in its Wednesday and Thursday editions.


Speaking to exchange4media, Sivakumar Sundaram, President-Revenue, BCCL, said that this is the beginning of the peak festive period and he hopes to see a lot more action.


“Festive advertising is not ad hoc. It is a well-planned activity with aggressive sales targets. Advertisers use the right mix of media to achieve their objectives and generate impact for their brands in order to gain maximum share of the customer’s wallet. The Times Group has always worked closely with advertisers and agencies to create solutions that make a difference to both top line and bottom line. This is the beginning of the peak festive period and we hope to see a lot more action,” said Sundaram.


P M Balakrishna, Head- Sales (National Accounts), The Hindu Group, is of the opinion that the festive season has always been a period to maximise advertising budgets and spends both from media and advertiser perspective.


Talking to exchange4media about print’s revenue growth, Balakrishna, Head- Sales (National Accounts), The Hindu Group, said, “The growth is quite positive as it’s a phase of high sales push for most brands and print is a crucial medium given the need to communicate topical and customised schemes. During the festive season, pricing strategy is built around offers on rates which continue to be the flavour of the season. Impact advertising vis jackets, full pages etc is always on high demand due to limited inventory and continue to be the priority for advertisers, especially around sale days and holidays.”


With advertisers scheduling their campaigns according to the consumer purchase behaviour this festive eve, Sakal Media Group CMO Krishna Menon tells us how the this season would be one of the best  in the recent times in terms of revenue growth .


Speaking to exchange4media regarding growth in their revenue rates, Menon said, “We should see an increase of close to 10 to 15 per cent over the previous year as we additionally offer value & plethora of options to the advertisers with our comprehensive coverage of Maharashtra through premium titles like Sakal, Saam TV, e-sakal and Sarkarnama.”

According to the recent TAM Media Research data, the ad volume across print industry witnessed a decline of 2 per cent in January-June 2018 compared to January-June 2017. Also, after a long spell of almost negligible growth owing to factors like demonetisation and implementation of GST and RERA, growth in the print sector was at a disappointing 3.4 per cent during FY18, lowest in a decade as per a KPMG report. But with general elections next year, growth in print-friendly sectors such as auto, banking, insurance and the festive cheer, it’s quite possible for print to command a major share of the overall advertising pie in the near future. 






Festive cheer: Print advertising to grow?


In India, smaller markets still have a strong print presence with regional newspapers having a good readership. But in large markets, there’s been a considerable shift in the reading habit, with the consumer shifting from newspapers to news apps and e-newspapers.


Meanwhile, online retail players such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal, which are quite popular in tier-1 cities, are looking at creating innovative marketing mix to woo their customers this festive season. The world might have come a long way in going digital, but print advertising has its own charm in purifying the expression of an ad down to writing & art direction, thereby creating an impression, visibility and brand credibility for customers to trust.


Why prints ads are still effective


While digital is best suited for sales & promotions, print ads build brand recognition. With online sellers approaching print media, it clearly shows how these brands cannot only depend on digital or TV advertising for their growth. This is because the consumer needs assurance in writing that the deal being offered is in real.


How long will the trend last?


Paresh Nath, Owner, Delhi Press, believes that the festive advertising in print will last for only a few weeks and may not be able to bring good days for print in the long run.


“While the festive print advertisements by online sellers might last for only few weeks, they will not be able to bring good days for the print business in the long run. There is another catch in it: The multi-brand-multi-product ads that we see in print are attractive only for a few very well-known brands. In order to cover the cost of advertising for online sellers, manufacturers of displayed products might have to give deeper discounts to sellers and thereby reduce their own promotional budgets. If that happens, it might affect brand building which is crucial for their survival.”


According to him, this will further lead online sellers to start diverting consumers to not-so-well-known brands and hence pass off second-rate products to unsuspecting buyers at an even higher discount. Ultimately, both consumers and brand owners will be at a loss in this scenario. “Print business, meanwhile, might see difficult days,” claims Paresh.


According to Gopa Kumar, Senior Executive Vice President, Isobar, festive season traditionally is a peak time for print wherein most advertisers nationally invest in print ad formats.


Kumar said, “This trend will continue over the festive season, where we will see dominant spends by major advertisers in print. Along with ad rates, we will also see an increase in the number of pages to cater to this demand. This is the time, when consumers in India make key purchases.”


“While over the years, we have seen sectors such as auto, real estate and consumer durables go heavy in print, now e-commerce majors like Amazon, Flipkart etc have all joined the bandwagon, spending heavy on print ads this season,” Kumar added.


According to him, this is a positive trend: spends going up and print getting its due.



Market Trends: South India


Shifting focus to South India, where festivals like onam, navarati & christmas are celebrated with much more grandeur compared to diwali, lohri and ganesh chathurthi, we speak to M V Shreyams Kumar, JMD, Mathrubhumi Group, about the current state of the market that is still recovering from the Kerala floods.


“We are optimistic that companies would revive in the next two months, stable enough to have a good Christmas season as far as advertising growth is concerned,” Kumar said.


Talking on the verticals that are looking to advertise with them this season, Kumar said that mostly FMCG, automobile, BFSI and retailers, especially gold loan NBFCs, have shown interest. The Malyalam newspaper edition is hopeful about adding on to its pages with several ads in the upcoming festive season, thereby compensating for the loss suffered earlier this year by the floods.


Growth in print ad-rates


There’s yet another trend rising in South, majorly in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where advertisers seem keen on impact-based advertisements compared to frequency of ads. Hence, be it festival season or not, the lines are blurry from an advertising budget perspective.


Talking to us about the increase in their ad rates during the festive season, AJ Christopher, National Head, Sales & Marketing, Eenadu, said, “We have successfully enhanced our advt rates with most advertisers at an average of 5-7 per cent and upwards. However, we are yet to receive a complete picture on the season’s advertising investments for AP & Telangana markets especially.”


Confident of a healthy advertising to edit ratio, Christopher confirms that the increase in pages of their edition will be proportionate to the advertising flow received.


The newspaper industry is and will continue to be one the most important channels for advertisers to depend on, more so during the festive time. For, in a world of swipe and scroll, the touch and feel of print gives the medium a stand-out advantage, always.


(With inputs from Simran Sabherwal)

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