Educational publication sector will see more ads

19 Sep,2011

By Akash Raha

With the increasing growth of the middle class, and spread of education to the grass-roots levels, educational print publications seem to be doing fairly well in India. According to a report from advertising tracking service AdEx India, education sector print advertising in H1 2011 saw a jump of 4 percent vis-à-vis the same period in 2010. However, the top two categories advertising in this segment were ‘Educational Institutions’ and ‘Coaching / Competitive Examination Centres’ which contributed to 90 percent of this sector’s advertising. MxM India explored the reasons for the growth in advertising in this segment even as advertising in several other sectors continues to shrink, and the reason advertisers from other categories stay away from education sector print advertising.

It is indeed true that India is a country where education is valued and is sought after. The population of the aspiring middle class too is constantly increasing. “India as a country has always been serious with education,” says Mr Anindya Ray, Vice President, Lodestar UM, “Academics and a good job is the sign of ultimate success. Alternative careers like sports, singing, adventure related sports etcetera, are not the staple for the vast Indian middle class. Even though of late such alternative areas are coming up, a basic-level degree education is a must. Hence education will always be on the growth path. In fact, during the worldwide recession of 2008/2009 when India was having a soft market situation, when all other advertisers were holding on to their media spends, education sector still showed a growth and was the leading spender.”

Mr Premjeet Sodhi, President, The Collaborative, Lintas Media Group too touched a similar note and said, “Education as a sector is fairly liberalised and there is a lot of private/corporate interest in the sector. A large and growing youth population provides an opportunity for private enterprise in India and hence this sector is on the anvil of significant growth. From the advertising perspective, its prominence in advertising shares is mainly because of the huge number of companies that contribute to the advertising of the sector. In the future, more companies are expected to start advertising. Besides, even the existing ones are expected to increase their advertising spends. However, it remains to be seen if these spends will be retained within the print sector or will television and digital take more and more of it. The recent trends do suggest that it will be a challenge for print to continue to grow in this domain. If one were to estimate the growth not in terms of volume but in value then the trend may already be unfavourable for the print category.”

As the number suggests, 90 percent of the advertising in this segment come from ‘Educational Institutions’ and ‘Coaching / Competitive Examination Centres’. The rest 10 percent is comprised of ‘Computer Education’, ‘Vocational Training Institutes’ and other categories. When asked why advertisers from other categories don’t see this segment as an opportunity to advertise and get to the young and educated Indians, Mr Dinesh Vyas, Business Head, MEC India said, “Advertisements gain a lot from the editorial content of a magazine. It might be true that educational publications are doing well and is a medium to reach young-educated Indians but several categories might be a misfit in the publication. A consumer buys educational magazines to know more about education and an advertisement about diamond sets or deodorants would be a total mismatch.  While advertising, it is important to match the environment of the magazine”

When asked the same question, Mr Ray said, “Yes it does make sense for advertisers from other segments to advertise in this sector – theoretically though. However in our country, education is a serious subject and entertainment, technology, consumer durable industries do not want to be in that atmosphere. More so, because there is not a single minded education platform in India and the best that you have are the various education supplements with mainline dailies.”

In a burgeoning population of educated Indians, the scope of growth in this sector is likely to soar in the years to come. With it, the advertising revenue will rise too and the sector will grow further. However, in the world of digitisation, the current players will have to throw caution to the wind and plan well ahead of time.

According to Mr Sodhi, as the AdEx data suggests, “The education sector is highly disorganised and fragmented. There have been attempts by various education brands to monetize their education materials/periodicals, events and their chain of training centres, websites, etc by associating with other advertising brands. However, I am not aware of formal education sector print that can be consistently be used as an advertising medium by others.”

How much the sector grows in future, and whether or not it will put up a good show at IRS and other measurement researches, only time will tell. But currently, going by the media planners’ verdict, this sector seems to be giving good value for money for its advertisers, though some semblance of organization would help the medium on the bullish ride forward.

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