Advertising goes down 29%

30 Mar,2021


By Indrani Sen


Indrani SenThe FICCI EY report on Indian M&E industry 2021 titled “Playing by New Rules” was released last Friday, March 26, 2021 at a virtual event. By now, we know that M&E sector posted INR 1.38 trillion in 2020 (a decline of 24% from 2019). Except Digital Media and Online Gaming, all other media suffered degrowth as an effect of Covid-19. Print media lost its #2 position to Digital Media, while Television managed retain the #1 position.

Let us turn our focus to the advertising industry, which according to the FICCI EY report, saw the highest single year drop in the history of Indian advertising. The industry saw a degrowth of 29% in 2020, higher than the 24% degrowth of the overall M&E sector. The report describes 2020 as “a watershed year for advertising spends”. A review of how advertising revenue was distributed among different media in 2020 and how did the distribution compare with 2019 is shown in the table below:


Ad Revenue by Media: Source FICCI EY Report 2021

Advertising in traditional media experienced a degrowth of 37% from 2019 to 2020, but advertising in digital media remained steady and did not suffer any loss. Advertising in Print sufferred due to reverse migration, changed consumer habits and cost-cutting while advertising in Radio and OOH was affected by reduced mobility of consumers. The experienial industry comprising of Events and Cinema degrew due to lockdown guideline, social distancing norms and consumer fear of crowded places.

The advertising industry is not expected to recover the losses of last year in next two years (2021 and 2022). While the total advertising spend is expected to regain the pre-Covid-19 levels in 2023, the individual traditional media are estimated to regain the same levels over a period of 5 years: 2021 (none), 2022 (Television), 2023 (Events & Cinema), 2024 (OOH), Radio (2024+) and Print (2025+).  Digital media is expected to grow by 22.5% over the 2019 level in 2021.

In a Marketer Survey conducted by EY in 2020, 88% of marketers were confident that consumer spends in their sector would grow in 2021. 66% of the marketers felt that their advertising expenditure would grow in next two years. However, 33% of the marketers surveyed felt that their advertising expenditure either would not grow or would decline in the next two years.

The same survey showed the marketers incresed investments in D2C initiatives during the pandemic in 2020 as shown in the above chart and 74% of them expeted to spend over 20% of their total spends on digital media against 45% who had shown interest in investing in digital media in 2019. A significant increase in digital spend were expressed by most.

The survey probed further on how the marketers were assessing the state of their future readiness in terms of their digital maturity and found that the advertising agencies are playing a crucial role.

:: “92% of respondents were actively monitoring their digital readiness, at a time when complex ecosystems are emerging across the business and marketing landscape.

:: 53% of respondents surveyed depended on their agency partners to update them on leading practices in their digital transformation journeys”

The FICCI EY report finally sums up the section on advertising by listing how advertisers are turning uncertainty to opportunity through Martech adoption, investments in brand purpose and architecture, hyperlocalisation, building and retaining immersive consumer experience, diversification of media, colaboration and last but not the least ensuring digital effectiveness. The experts’ comments at the end of the section on Advertising makes it clear that in the digital age advertising agencies need to invest in data, technology and analytics to stay relevant for their clients.


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