Advertisers loosen purse strings for print media in festive season

Mumbai: National and regional newspapers recorded a strong revival in advertising after major spenders loosened their purse strings during the festival season, bringing much cheer to the beleaguered industry hit hard by the disruption caused by Covid-19. In the last month and a half, many leading advertisers have increased their print spendings to pre-Covid levels. As spending picked up, market leaders like the Times of India in the English language segment and Dainik Bhaskar in the case of Hindi published mega issues ranging from 70-140 pages in some markets last week.One of the main reasons for advertisers flocking to the print products has been the credibility factor that’s attached to the medium, compared to the proliferation of fake news online and the shrillness of some TV channels, industry officials say. A September report from media insights and consulting firm Ormax Media had found print to be the “most credible” media vehicle for news.Then there’s the reach factor—access to a quality audience across the nation. “We feel that print is a very good medium that gives an uninterrupted access to the reader,” said RS Sodhi, managing director of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, popularly known as Amul. “We had reduced advertising on print during the lockdown, but now we are back to pre-Covid levels.”79290201As per Sodhi, Amul spends 35% of its marketing budgets on print media, and that plan will remain in place. Though both advertising and circulation were hit hard during the lockdown, print media companies were able to revv up circulation, curate new attractive offers and demonstrate value to the advertisers during the run up to the festival season. “Times Response, the sales and solutions team of The Times Group, has had its foot on the pedal since August with consistently ensuring thicker newspapers. It was a good beginning to the festive period with multiple bumper issues across our key markets. Armed with advertiser confidence, improved circulation and great response to advertising, the festival looked promising,” said Sivakumar Sundaram, chairman of the executive committee at The Times Group.Times Group also publishes The Economic Times.Times of India published bumper issues on Dhanteras across markets, well ahead of competition.In some markets, the TOI editions were 70-80 pages thick and more than twice the size of key competition. TOI had almost twice the ad volume of the nearest competitor in the top eight markets supported by more than 100 exclusive clients on Dhanteras day including the likes of Pine Labs, Swiggy, Asus and Croma.In a record of sorts, key editions like Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad had 14-16 jackets, with a total of 176 jackets across markets. Even the local or regional business bounced back during the festive season, registering 95% volume recovery compared to previous year.79290202Indian language print circulation has also reached overall 85% of pre-Covid levels, as per various market sources.Dainik Bhaskar was able to take out a 144 page edition in Shimla, a 130 page edition in Bikaner, a 128 page edition in Indore and 80 page editions consecutively for two days in Rajkot.During Diwali, Dainik Bhaskar’s Ahmedabad and Raipur editions also had 80 pages each, while Bhopal, Ujjain and Hoshangabad too carried out mega editions.“Tier II and III towns of India are leading economic recovery with retail market advertising revenue back to almost normal levels of pre-Covid levels in our all markets of Dainik Bhaskar Group,” said Girish Agarwal, promoter and director, Dainik Bhaskar Group.Driving the revenues for print are categories like auto, real estate, FMCG and e-commerce, which have seen a strong demand resurgence. The print medium is banking on the trust that it has built with its audience over decades to continue to drive its growth. “In today’s world, where credibility is at a premium, readers trust their daily newspaper more than ever,” added Agarwal. “Advertisers have been quick to notice this and therefore increasing their spends on newspapers. They are getting the right environment for their messaging in a non-intrusive and highly engaging medium with an active audience. The feedback is that newspapers are generating much better responses. Such a scenario for print advertising is definitely very positive and encouraging.”Across the Times Group publications, advertisiment volumes have been steadily moving up. Ad volumes for English language publications have already recovered above 75% in the last 30 days and the language publications like Navbharat Times, Maharashtra Times and Vijay Karnataka are witnessing a 90% volume recovery compared to the last year.“It is heartening to see the strong recovery of print and our publications. Given the strong edge that the Times Group publications are demonstrating over competition, it is clear that we are delivering on the brand objectives,” said Sundaram.Going by the AdEx data of the past months and the number of advertisers both national and local, it is evident that the vibrancy of print is back.
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