State polls: News channels emerge real winners with 46% growth in political ad volumes

Political ad volumes also saw a month-on-month growth in the last quarter of FY 2021. March 2021's political ad volumes grew by more than three times compared to January 2021 and February 2021

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Apr 21, 2021 9:24 AM
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As news channels went all out in their election coverage during the ongoing state polls, the genre remained a top priority for political advertisers, giving a boost to the AdEx in the category. While ad volumes have already peaked in the genre with a push from political advertising, it is expected that counting days will see more prominent presence by national brands.

As per TAM AdEx numbers, in spite of overall ad volumes on news genre showing a drop of 6% between January and March this year compared to the preceding three months of festive season between October 2020 and December 2020, ad volumes for political advertisements on the genre saw a sharp rise of 46% in the period.

Political ad volumes also saw a month on month growth in the last quarter of FY 2020. February 2021, for instance, saw a 9% growth, and during March 2021, political ad volumes grew by more than three times compared to January 2021 and February 2021.

“Audiences want to remain updated with news on elections in Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. This is visible in the positive momentum in terms of increased traffic amongst most of the leading regional news players of each market, though we also see a steeper increase in traffic surge on national players during the same time,” said Grashima Sahni, Senior Director- Planning and Strategy, Carat India.

Data shows that the top advertisers in the genre between January and March this year were Bharatiya Janata Party at 21%, followed by AIADMK at 20%, DMK at 17%, Congress at 10% and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam an Indian regional political party in the state of Tamil Nadu at 5%.

Even as past data indicates that the viewership rise is primarily on the regional news channels of the state in which the elections are being held and national news channels in other parts of the country do not show a significant spike, the first three months of January 2021 turned out to be different.

“If we look at Maharashtra elections in Oct 2019, Marathi news channels witnessed 45-50% increase in GRPs during the election period and a few weeks post the election, but Hindi/English news channels in other parts of the country did not see any significant change in viewership. The same trend is observed for Delhi elections in Feb 20. However WB elections this time are a little different. BJP made significant gains in WB in Lok Sabha elections in 2019, elections are being conducted after a tough pandemic year, political turmoil in WB has created a lot of ripples nationally etc, hence viewer interest in WB elections across other parts of the country might be a notch higher as compared to other state elections held in the past or for that matter elections in Kerala being held simultaneously. This might benefit the national news channels in terms of marginal increased viewership,” said Navin Kathuria, EVP and Principal Partner, OMD Mudramax.

“We saw almost a 50% growth in political ad volumes in the last quarter of FY 21. However it was not just ad volumes that went up. Given that there was a lot of interest in elections this time around, the traffic also peaked which helped us in pushing our ad rates by 10%-15% over normal times. We are expecting a similar trend on counting day,” said a popular national Hindi news channel representative.

However, it is not just the political parties that cashed in on the high traffic of news channels in the period. Brands too have been making the most of the increased viewership.

“There is no demarcation of categories/brands that will advertise specially during election season. In the specific market where election is being held, news channels garner higher eyeballs, and hence all advertisers/brands which have that particular state in which elections are being held as a priority market will like to encash upon the elections by advertising on the news genre. Having said that, it is primarily the conventional categories targeting male audiences that are present on news channels in the election season. This includes categories like automobiles, financial services, construction materials, consumer electronics, mobile phones etc,” said Kathuria.

Cashing in on the election season, brands that spent generously in the news genre between January and March this year included advertisers like Reckitt Benckiser, Hindustan Unilever, SBS Biotech, Lalitha Jewellery And LIC of India who were also the top five advertisers for the period.

Interestingly, in spite of an overall drop in the quarter, there was a month on month growth in ad volumes in the new genre. In the month of March 2021 add volumes experience to boost and were up by 32% compare to January 2021.


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