Second Covid wave dents ad spend on out-of-home media

By: |
May 31, 2021 7:22 AM

The onset of the pandemic dealt a heavy blow to OOH (out-of-home) media in 2020, resulting in a 60% de-growth, according to the Ficci-EY Media & Entertainment Report 2021.

Several brands in the automotive, real-estate and FMCG categories had begun to invest in OOH advertising earlier this year.Several brands in the automotive, real-estate and FMCG categories had begun to invest in OOH advertising earlier this year.

The outdoor media industry has once again lost favour with marketers as various states in the country have imposed restrictions on the movement of public in view of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Atul Shrivastava, CEO, Laqshya Media Group, says since April business has declined by 60-70%. This recent setback could shave off about 20% of the industry’s revenue in 2021, he says.

The onset of the pandemic dealt a heavy blow to OOH (out-of-home) media in 2020, resulting in a 60% de-growth, according to the Ficci-EY Media & Entertainment Report 2021. The industry earned revenue of Rs 1,560 crore in 2020 and the report estimated that the industry will not return to its pre-Covid levels before 2024. In 2021, marketers are expected to spend about Rs 2,160 crore on OOH advertising. In 2019, the industry was worth as much as Rs 3,910 crore.

Several brands in the automotive, real-estate and FMCG categories had begun to invest in OOH advertising earlier this year.

“There were encouraging signs of recovery in the last month of the previous year and the first two months of 2021, but with the situation worsening and almost the entire country going into lockdown mode, the sentiments are at an all-time low again,” says Fabian Trevor Cowan, country head, Posterscope India. As the intensity of the second wave is much larger than the first, “brands have put most activities on hold or have postponed it till further clarity on the situation”, says Cowan.

Marketers are reorienting their spends towards digital and TV like they did last year, say industry analysts. In the meantime, media owners and marketers are negotiating discounts and value-adds as return on investment is on a decline. Shrivastava says discounts of 20-30% are being negotiated by advertisers during this period.

Brands that had already begun OOH campaigns are slowing down and reducing their footprint until the situation improves. Sarthak Seth, chief marketing officer, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, says the company is retaining its presence at marquee locations and cutting back on low-ROI locations. “Seeing that traffic has reduced, we have reduced our spends. However, we have taken strategic calls and negotiated lower prices for premium locations and are holding on to those to ensure we do not lose them to competitors,” he says.

Sanjay Shukla, CEO, The Max, an outdoor agency, expects the OOH medium to return to normalcy about two-three months after all lockdowns are lifted. He says, “Brands that are looking at premium properties for long term display, would see it as an opportunity to get great yearlong deals. As the traffic movement gets near normal, we would see traction across various forms of OOH mediums.”

Ambient media could be the last to recover as in the initial stages, brands may like to focus on bigger properties facing traffic and would expect great deals from media owners, say analysts. Shukla expects OOH spends to rebound around August 2021. When campaigns resume, Shrivastava is counting on sectors like automotive, BFSI and consumer durables to aggressively advertise on OOH.

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