The government’s move to allow the sale of non-essential products on e-commerce and the partial reopening of retail stores in safe zones has given brands the opportunity to market products to consumers.
The phased easing of the pan-India lockdown is resulting in an increase in television advertising. As per BARC India, advertising volume has peaked at 2.69 crore minutes of free commercial time (FCT) since the beginning of the lockdown, during June 6-12. To give a comparison, ad volume was at 3.29 crore minutes of FCT during March 21-27 and was hovering around 2 crore minutes weekly during the lockdown period.
The government’s move to allow the sale of non-essential products on e-commerce and the partial reopening of retail stores in safe zones has given brands the opportunity to market products to consumers. Some brands have launched new products, a few are introducing fresh campaigns for existing products, and several brands that became relevant during the lockdown are the most prominent ones on TV now. “The TV advertiser’s profile has shifted from mainly FMCG companies to now include gaming platforms, edu-tech companies, food and beverage brands, and mobile handset manufacturers,” Deep Drona, COO at media company Enterr10 Television, said. E-commerce brands, video-streaming services, digital payments, health and wellness brands, and delivery aggregators, too, are making a splash on TV.
While some green shoots are beginning to be seen, there’s still a long way to go for revival. “In April we witnessed a 75-80% fall in advertising. There has been a rise since then, but it’s not yet back to the January and February levels,” Pawan Jailkhani, chief revenue officer, 9X Media, said.
“The FMCG category, which is the backbone of the industry, is yet to return in full force,” he added.
In May, Dangal TV, the most-viewed general entertainment channel, was operating with 50% of pre-Covid advertising. Times Network expects a surge of 15-20% in ad volume in June and July compared with the lockdown period.
The increase in advertising volume alone is not an indicator of the health of the industry. Television channels that were offering nearly 70-80% discounts on advertising rates during the complete lockdown period have brought the discounts down to about 40-50% on pre-Covid ad rates, media buyers said.
“In June, our ad volumes are down by less than 10% on a year-to-year basis. With an improving inventory fill, the overall rates have started to recover strongly,” Ashish Sehgal, chief growth officer, advertisement revenue, ZEE, said.
Noting that consumer sentiment is crucial to the return of advertising on television, Jailkhani expects that a complete revival will take at least five-six months. The festive season and IPL could drive spends in the second half of the year. “The likelihood of IPL in this season would also result in increased advertising, thereby pushing volume and rates,” Gaurav Dhawan, EVP, revenue, Times Network, said.
Big spenders on television are yet to return to the medium. Categories such as automobiles, two-wheelers, educational institutions and real estate are still largely absent from TV. “All brands are continuing to be cautious with their spending because they are watching how consumers respond to the opening up of the shops and markets,” Navin Khemka, CEO, MediaCom South Asia, said.
Lack of new original content on general entertainment channels continues to be a hurdle for broadcasters. News channels lead the pack and attract the most advertisements as people continue to tune in to watch updates about the developments around the pandemic.
“Shooting of fresh content in some markets has begun in May and June and we have also started telecasting the same on some of the channels. New content will continue to attract higher rates,” Sehgal of ZEE added.