TV Brand Fest 2021: Marketers relook at TV ad spends in times of disruption

Shared views on Day One of the five-day long TV Brand Fest 2021 that began on Monday.

Mumbai: The media industry and the economy saw an unprecedented level of disruption post-lockdown phase. As marketers went back to the drawing board to scrutinise their media spend, TV advertising moved from strength to strength commanding the highest share of advertising spends.

“Television will continue to command the majority share of ad-spends in the next five to seven years,” asserted ITC head of media Jaikishin Chhaproo, as he began the discussion at the ‘TV Brand Fest 2021’ – a five-day event being organised by, and co-powered by Star India. Day one of the event saw marketers and prominent TV advertisers discuss ‘The power of television in times of disruption’ and ways of ‘Using TV + digital strategy’.

Maruti Suzuki India executive director – marketing and sales Shashank Srivastava noted that out of the Rs 700 crore spent on advertising, the brand spent 34 per cent on TV and 27 per cent on digital. “In terms of building brand imagery, especially in the auto category, there’s no substitute for TV,” he noted.

Most industries were impacted by the pandemic. However, the edtech sector was one of the few that saw an increase in demand during the lockdown. Byju’s head of marketing Atit Mehta observed that this was an important moment for the edtech industry to build top of the funnel awareness. “One of the categories that increased their advertising spends during lockdown was edtech,” he said.

The fast-moving-consumer-goods (FMCG) category remains the largest advertiser on TV. Despite the impact of the pandemic on the bottom line of most consumer goods companies, this category remained visible on TV. “FMCG cannot do without TV because you need the reach, frequency and eyeballs,” said ITC’s Chhaproo.

“A significant number of categories operate around the magic price point of Rs 10. Due to the impact of the pandemic on the supply chain, continuing to offer this price point to consumers became a challenge”, said Chhaproo. “We had to constantly communicate to consumers to drive them to our products.”

The category which usually invests on general entertainment channels, shifted media spends on other genres on TV. “We shifted our spends on TV to the news genre because consumption had gone up significantly,” remarked Dabur head of media Rajiv Dubey.

Covid was a timeout for the entire world and when the normal choices were unavailable to consumers they began experimenting with different modes of consumption. When fresh content returned to GECs last year, Dubey observed that there was a significant consolidation of viewership in the eight regional markets that Dabur looked at including South (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala), West Bengal, Maharashtra, Orissa and Bihar.

“The viewership has been on the upswing in these regional markets with consolidation of viewership in fewer programs and channels,” said Dubey. “We’ve seen that if you speak to a consumer in Maharashtra, in Marathi, using a Star of his choice, it works better.”

There are 40-50 million homes that watch only free-to-air channels on Prasar Bharati’s free DTH platform DD Free Dish, Dubey said. “The FTA channels work like magic if you want to advertise products with smaller price points. Unfortunately, the major FTA channels only cater to Hindi-speaking audiences and no other language audiences.”

In terms of consumer behaviour, there is a key overlap in terms of audiences on TV and digital. Audiences are watching both these media at different points in time. For’s vice president and head of brand marketing Samir Sethi it became important to map these audiences to optimise ad spends.

He said, “The attention is now divided between a TV and mobile phone. Earlier, people watched TV undivided but now they're also multitasking on a mobile phone. We’ve seen that there are times when people are influenced enough by your communication on TV that they respond by checking out your website or downloading your app on mobile.”

A lot of digital and direct-to-consumer brands have understood and leveraged this behaviour. When it comes to achieving their growth targets, “all the major D2C brands have come on our platform (TV) to reach audiences at scale,” remarked Disney and Star India head of sales for infotainment, kids and regional cluster Dev Shenoy.

In the last 18 months, ad spends have inevitably shifted to digital media platforms. For example, with retail spaces closed, certain category spends have completely moved to e-commerce. Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava said, “At the top end of the funnel there is no substitute for TV. Digital becomes more important at the lower end. In the consideration stage of the brand, there's an overlap.”

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