Print media picks up pace in festive season with up to 75% recovery

As per the latest TAM AdEx data, the average ad volume per day saw a sharp increase of 5.7 times in August 2020 against the numbers in April this year

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Oct 30, 2020 9:50 AM
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Boosted by a number of factors, including the ongoing debate over television news and the festive cheer, amid global doom, print media is fast becoming the top choice for advertisers this season.

With bulky editions of over 50 pages from some key players since August, print has been sending out a clear message of a comeback. Since September, the numbers have gotten better with substantial gain in ad revenue. As per experts, newspapers are now at 75% business volume as compared to the same period last year.

CIRCULATION AND AD VOLUME

As per the latest TAM AdEx data, the average ad volumes per day saw a sharp increase of 5.7 times in August 2020 against the numbers in April this year.
The top five categories advertising on print between July and September were cars, multiple courses, two-wheelers, real estate and range of OTC products. The top five categories accounted 33% volume in the period between July and September when compared to 21% in April-June.

“We are seven months into the lockdown and what has kept us optimistic is the consistent growth in ad volumes and revenues month on month. The festive period is a critical time not just for media, but for many other categories. This is when consumers spend the most and it’s important for brands to capitalise on the festive sentiment. This is definitely reflecting in the upswing since the last 40 days. Brands have been positive and buoyant despite manufacturing, import and other market challenges,” said Malcolm Raphael, SVP and Head, Creative Strategy and Planning, Times Response (BCCL), the creative & media planning unit of BCCL
With circulation back on track, toplines have started seeing a positive trend especially in the August-September period.

DB Corp Limited, which announced their quarterly results last week, said circulation picked up from July with number of copies increasing to 78% of the pre-Covid levels (YOY) in July, 80% in August, 81% by the end of September and currently at 86% at overall level as compared to 66% in the month of April.

Speaking of an improving market, Sudhir Agarwal, Managing Director at DB Corp Ltd, said “While our results are reflective of the disruption in the first quarter, it is important to note that on almost all parameters, i.e. operations, advertising revenues and circulation, we have seen phenomenal traction beginning mid-July, that has improved sequentially. With Navratri coming in late by a month this year, our advertising revenues from this season shifted from the last week of September to October. Adjusted for this, we are happy to report that our performance is now approaching near pre-Covid levels. Our profitability has been witnessing improvement on the back of our relentless cost optimisation measures, soft newsprint prices.”

While advertisers have helped print revive its business, the medium too has successfully driven growth for its stakeholders.

“It is interesting how a category like real estate has seen tremendous consumer response, with builders getting huge traction for their print campaigns. Print ads have managed to sell 200+ flats in under two weeks. Apart from real estate, we have surpassed or matched ad volumes in e-commerce, education, media & entertainment, healthcare and consumer services. Advertising by the auto sector has been buoyant for the last couple of months after a few new car launches. Coaching centres have seen a strong uptick in advertising as the JEE/NEET results were announced. And very importantly, local to local advertising volumes which was at less than 10% in April is now at 80%+ of last year volumes,” said Raphael.

ADVERTISER SENTIMENT

While consumer durables, FMCG, real estate and most importantly automobiles are the fastest growing categories presently, three brands out of top five brands were from the auto sector.

For Maruti, which is one of these top five brands, print has been used for tactical advertising. “We use TV mostly when we have new car launches, but since we haven’t had any new launches, we’ve stuck to print. It has mostly been tactical advertising which is directly proportional to generating leads and leading to sales and this is done at our regional levels, said Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India.

According to Srivastava, last year 41% of ad expenses were print expenditure. Upbeat about the impact of the medium he said, “This year the trend continues”.

Not just automobiles other sectors are also counting on print for maximum impact. “Advertisements are all about objectives, and for us, print meets our objective, and hence we have been very active on the medium in the festive season with our nationwide print campaign,” said Eric Braganza, President at Haier Appliances India Pvt. Ltd.

With the lockdown relaxing and print coming back to action, the exclusive print advertiser count also gradually saw an upward trend. As per TAM data, there were 78 exclusive categories advertising in print between July and September. There were 29,190 exclusive advertisers and 35,030 total exclusive brands advertising on print in the same period.

NO MORE DEEP DISCOUNTS

Interestingly, deep discounts being offered towards the beginning of the lockdown is also off the charts. As per experts, newspapers were giving BOGO offers between April and June where a one-pager paid add got the advertiser another one-pager free of cost. The offer slowly graduated to a two plus one scheme. But come August 31, no such discounts are being offered. “We are offering goodwill discounts to our loyal stakeholders depending on the value size of a deal now,” said a senior marketing person from a popular national daily on the terms of anonymity.

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