Print better prepared in lockdown 2.0, clocks better ad volumes

When compared to the same period last year, ad volumes saw sizeable growth in April-May 2021 given the industry was better prepared to run their business in a lockdown-like situation

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jun 7, 2021 8:49 AM

Being prepared helped print media handle Lockdown 2.0 better than the first time around. Even with the second wave of the pandemic hitting the country, print saw a growth in ad volumes when compared to same period last year. The first two months of FY22 saw better numbers when compared to April-May 2020. As per TAM AdEx, April 2021 saw a four-time surge in ad space in print compared to April 2020.

Interestingly even at the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in May 2021, there was a 58% growth in ad space per publication as compared to May 2020. It is important to understand that the newspaper industry, like most other sectors, was better prepared for a lockdown-like situation this year compared to last year. In the year gone by, April and May were the worst hit months not only because of the closing of businesses but primarily because of circulation issues. Newspapers went off the shelves across major tier 1 cities leading to loss of business in the first two months of Q1 FY21.

However, since the impact of the second wave started hitting the country in April this year in spite of good business, ad space for publications saw a drop of 42% and 29% compare to March 2021 and February 2021 respectively.

If we look at the calendar year, 2020 overall started on a happy note for print publications as the fourth quarter of FY21 closed on a high for print publications. When compared to January 2020 – March 2020, the first three months of 2021 saw an increase of 9% in ad space. Most of this growth was led by language publications with Hindi language publications having a 41% share of ad space in the period.

So if we compare the April 2021-May 2021 to the first three months of 2020, print business took a sizeable hit. As per TAM numbers, publications saw a significant decline of 54%, 74% and 67% during May 2021 compared to April 2021, March 2021 and February 2021 respectively.

The drop in numbers however is not here to stay.  Print industry is looking at a speedy recovery as businesses start to open up in phases across the country. Industry experts are expecting the recovery to begin around festive season that takes off around end of July/ beginning of August.

“We saw April 20201 doing far better than last April 2020, in terms of revenue but the onset of the second wave has pushed everything to a standstill. Now that the unlock is happening, we expect the revenue to pick up by August when the festive season kicks in,” said I Venkat, Director, Eenadu Group.

Alongside unlock, vaccination and good rain forecasts are some of the factors that would contribute to the holistic growth of the growth and lead to better business for print publications as well, said experts.

“By August a sizeable portion of the society would be vaccinated so if you put that into perspective with strong macroeconomic factors like good monsoon etc., the economy should look up. Also given that print media has established itself as the most trusted news source, it would undoubtedly benefit from the same,” said L Adimoolam, Business and Technical Director, Dinamalar, and President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS).

“We also hope FDI to increase in the coming days and the government to come up with stimulus packages for the print industry. This added to corporate India reviving deals with publications should make up for losses incurred between April and May this year. We are confident that advertisers will be back on print in full swing by end of July especially sectors like FMCG and automobiles,” said another media industry expert.

Talking of advertisers, SBS Biotech was the top advertiser in both May 2021 and April 2021 with a 14% and 7% share of ad volumes respectively. The top five advertisers added 27% and 14% share of ad space during May 2021 and April 2021 respectively. Range of OTC products and two-wheelers were the top categories during May 2021 and April 2021 with a 6% share each. The hospital/clinics category appeared in both May 2021 and April 2021 in the top advertisers and categories. Top five categories added 25% and 23% share of ad volume during May 2021 and April 2021.

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