The Advertisers Avenge In 2021

Even if 2021 brings with it new strains of the virus, new waves of disease, and new challenges in other forms, what seems clear is that we’re not willing to be held back anymore.


If there’s anything Covid has taught us, it this – there is no certainty to anything. Least of all what advertisers or consumers might do and say.

2019 saw a high with overall ad spend of ₹68,475 crore. 2020 ad expenditure was expected to surpass ₹75,000 crore. Different projections suggested an increase of 11-15% in ad spends. Instead, spends fell to ~₹56000 crore. Says Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO, Dentsu India, “Ad spends were shaved off almost 15-18 per cent overall this year.”

There was a drastic decline in ad spends, led by over 1200 advertisers primarily in discretionary categories like jewelry, cosmetics, durables, auto and more. 2021 brings with it a lot of hope and optimism, but even more so, vengeance to battle the negativity we’ve been saddled with for a long time now.

So What Next?

Even if 2021 brings with it new strains of virus, new waves of disease, and new challenges in other forms, what seems clear is that we’re not willing to be held back anymore. Man is a social animal and unless there be drastic restrictions, we’re going to scoff at the virus, even carry it as a budge (hah! I’m already done with it!) and move on to what we all are hardwired for – to mingle and meet, to celebrate, to get out, to do more, and do everything we’ve been denied for a while now.

The Advertisers Avenge

We want it all back. Our lives. Our businesses. Revenue and growth. And advertisers will take no prisoners. So IPL will see bigger spends. As will all festivals and other events. But Covid has catapulted all of us to astronomical heights in digital. We’re all on the mobile all the time more than ever. Yes, TV and print and radio are slowly clawing back.. but digital will continue to dramatically increase as a percentage of overall spends.

How Big Can Digital Really Get?

By 2024, digital ad revenue in media is expected to be about Rs 550 billion – that’s about 25% more than what TV will get to and more than double of what print will be then! There are different numbers quoted in different reports, but the broader collective prediction is that digital will outpace all other media. The only question is how soon?

At one end there’s a lot fancy stuff like Augmented Reality. And terms like systematic digital transformation, but at the other, are ‘voice’, ‘video’ and ‘vernacular’. Influencer marketing, content, smart native integrations, small snackable videos are the new celebrated heroes of digital. Digital helps increase reach, more so outside of non-metros where this is the only media to connect and access ‘big-city-slicker-brands’. This has led to the rapid increase in e-commerce.

India To Become The Second Biggest E-commerce Market After US

By 2034 that is. (as per stats by IBEF). That sounds very far away.. but its clear we’re on the path to getting there. As per a Mckinsey report, ~96% consumers have tried a new shopping behaviour; ~60% consumers are expected to shift to online shopping in the festive season and continue shopping online beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. News has been abuzz with big investment numbers by the Ambanis, by facebook, Google, Amazon and more. Even while it is known ecommerce giants are mired in huge losses for now, its clear everyone’s banking on the big growth expected from the next billion – and India will be the lead. With a staggering 560 million internet users, Indian internet users are still only 50% of the total population of 1.37 Billion. Websites like 2gud that are dedicated to refurbished goods like mobile phones and other electronics – sees close to 5 million visits a month! There’s Nykaa selling cosmetics (and more) online is now seeing closer to 6 million visits a month! Who would have thought we’d buy colour online.. when there are only a hundred shades in pink alone and who can be sure of what one sees on screen – but we’re still buying. And gosh what a whole lot! A whole lot of boutique barnds have taken birth on the net, which might never see transition to the offline world but also have great flaunt value as exclusive brands.

Consequently, the E-Commerce logistics, new models in supply chain and warehousing has exploded. You can WeFast a package from one end of Delhi to the other, for as little as 100/- with a one hour delivery guarantee! This alone has huge implications to how we buy.

The Growth Drivers

Of course Ecommerce. And add to that Edtech, online gaming, auto, travel and tourism, and feel good or small treat categories like snacks, soaps and .. scented candles (the last was to get the alliteration right, but you get the point). FMCG will continue to add stability, and was relatively unaffected through COVID times. That’s understandable – we will never stop brushing our teeth, or washing clothes or taking a bath. What has changed is how we are additionally accessing media – through digital of course.

Among the growth drivers in 2021 – I believe outdoor will come back in a big way. Again with vengeance, I would think. If people start buying new cars and getting out to meet friends or to holiday, outdoor will become relevant again.

Lastly – are you human?

As we move rapidly towards digital transformation, privacy and fraud will become an increasing concern. How do I know if my influencers are reaching real humans? Or what percentage of my spends are going waste? Or what context is my content being seen in? And with that cheers to retaining all that still makes us human!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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