Television advertising volumes fell by 3% in 2020 over 2019, a report by BARC India has said. The pandemic-induced lockdown and dip in consumer sentiment made advertisers reconsider their media plans and spend more cautiously in 2020. In the first half of the year, ad volume declined by 18% y-o-y while in the second half it revived and grew by 12% over 2019.
With fresh programming returning to television screens and the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicking off, advertising volumes gained momentum in the second half of the year. Advertising volumes surged in the second half of the year by 34% over the first half. Typically, the festive season in India attracts as much as 40% of the annual ad spend.
Hindustan Unilever was the biggest advertiser in 2020 with a 30% growth in advertising volume over 2019, followed by Reckitt Benckiser Group, whose advertising volume grew 37% in 2020 over 2019.
Both companies intensified promotions for their respective hand soap, hand wash liquid and hand sanitiser products. For instance, advertising volumes for Dettol toilet soaps and Dettol antiseptic liquid went up by 118% and 136% y-o-y respectively. Advertising volume for Lifebuoy toilet soap was up 37% in 2020. Immunity boosting products were also marketed more prominently in 2020. Advertising volume for Horlicks surged by 60% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, Wipro and Marico dropped advertising volume by 12%, 18% and 25%, respectively. Amul, which took advantage of low ad rates and high viewership on reruns of shows such as Ramayan, registered an ad volume growth of 130%. Automotive and consumer durable brands held back on ad spend in 2020. Their ad volumes dropped by 23% and 41% respectively.
Movie channels attracted viewers in the absence of new content on GECs. As a result, ad volume on GECs grew 9% y-o-y in 2020. After running without fresh content for nearly three months, the Hindi GEC genre witnessed the highest growth in ad volumes at 10% in 2020 as compared to 2019. Other regional GECs saw a growth of 8% over 2019.
Digital brands that happened to benefit from the lockdown leveraged television to capitalise on changing consumer habits. During the peak lockdown in April and May, the share of advertising volume for digital brands was the highest at 16% and 13% respectively as compared to the month of January 2020, when it was 7%. However, by the end of the year, the share of ad volume from these brands had stabilised at 9-10%.