Turning a new page: Print ends fiscal year on a high, Q4 takes rev close to pre-Covid days

Print ad volume per newspaper per day remained almost same during Jan 21-Mar 21 compared to Jan 20-Mar 20, as per TAM AdEx data

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Mar 19, 2021 9:21 AM

If the jacket ads, bulky editions and full-pagers are any indication, print ad dollars are back and how. Backed by the credibility of the printed word and controversy around television news, print is making a strong comeback after the setback of 2020 with almost a complete recovery noticed in the last quarter of the fiscal.

“Print has bounced back, clocking almost 90% ad volumes when compared to pre-Covid times. Both the October- December and January-March quarters have been busy quarters for print in terms of ad bills, and even after touching an all-time low, the numbers are back to normal,” said Jai Lala, COO, Zenith.

According to top newspapers in the country, the mega editions launched across various tier-II, tier-III & beyond cities, are a testament of the economic revival that is budding from these markets. “Such editions not only signaled the return of advertisers but also witnessed an increase in ad-spends, pointing out the shift in advertisers’ focus from metros to non-metro cities, in-line with the growth propelling from these markets. Further, with print media emerging as one of the most trusted mediums, the advertisers’ have intensified their focus towards the medium. These mega issues also helped in furthering the trust of advertisers in Indian language print media and its ability to reach the masses,” said Harrish Bhatia, President Sales and Marketing, DB Corp Ltd.

In the last few months, Dainik Bhaskar, published close to 20 mega editions with over 50 pages each across its major markets, thanks to a mix bag of advertisers from sectors such as healthcare, education, FMCG, infrastructure, tourism, auto and real estate, amongst others. “Our recovery has been strong, and presently, we are very close to reclaiming the pre-Covid level of advertisement revenue,” Bhatia said.

Confidence in the medium is the biggest factor behind print making a comeback, said MV Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director, Mathrubhumi. According to him, February has been the best month for the business in the entire fiscal and it has helped the topline grow. “The worst is behind us and we are optimistic that moving forward, a holistic growth in the economy will also reflect in print’s performance, and in the new fiscal, numbers for print will continue to grow,” he said.

FY 2021 that started at an all-time low for print businesses across board is closing on a high note. As per latest TAM AdEx numbers, print ad volumes per newspaper per day remained almost same during January 21-March 21 compared to January 20-March 20. The top categories to advertise on print also remained same during both periods. Of the close to 590 categories that advertised in print in the last quarter of the fiscal, Car remained the top category like last year. Interestingly, all top five categories were common between both the periods with minor rank shifts. Properties/Real Estates ascended to the second place this year compared to fourth place same period last year. The top five categories had 23% and 26% share of newspaper ad volumes during January 21-March 21 and January 20-March 20 respectively.

Coming to advertisers, TAM data also shows that three of top five advertisers were common between both the periods. SBS Biotech topped the list during January 21-March 21 as well as January 20-March 2020. The top five advertisers added 16% and 11% share of newspaper ad volumes during January 21-March21 and January 20-March20 respectively.

LIC of India and Emami were new entrants among the top five this year.


Talking of markets that performed well in the last quarter pushing toplines, the Indian language print showed higher resilience than the English print during these unprecedented times, said experts.

“The sustenance of circulation and readership is relatively easier in tier II & III markets, because the habitual dependence on digital sources for news is relatively lower, as validated by the circulation numbers. The circulation has been restored to 85-90% of pre-Covid level, for the Indian language print markets. The remainder, which is mostly cash sales, is expected to be back with the full restoration of railway and bus services, opening of hospitality and offices,” explained Bhatia.

Clearly, even TAM data shows that Hindi newspapers topped the popularity chart in terms of both preference and performance. In the top 5 languages list for Q3 of FY 21, Kannada was new entrant. The top five newspaper languages added 84% and 83% share of newspaper ad volumes during January 21-March21 and January 20-March 20 respectively.

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