The Push & Pull of Print

09 Aug,2021


By Indrani Sen


Indrani SenPrint media in India was the worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic last year. As per the FICCI EY Report on M&E industry 2021, the revenue of print shrunk by 41% from INR 206 billion in 2019 to INR 122 billion in 2020.  The report estimated that while TV will recover its 2019 level of revenue by 2022 and the combined revenue of traditional media will recover the 2019 level by 2023, it will take print at least till 2025, if not more to recover the 2019 level of revenue.


I commented on print media in an earlier article in “However, the industry seemed to be recovering well during the first quarter of 2021 as TAM AdEx data for Jan-Mar 21 showed that 1350 new brands advertised on print during that period.  When compared with Jan-Mar 20, the quarter also showed 9% increase in ad space mostly from Hindi and other language newspapers. Similarly, April-May 2021 recorded better results compared to April-May 2020.”


Now, it appears from the latest TAM AdEx report that the print media has begun the first month of the July-September quarter with an upward swing. At the end of July 2021, ad space per publication on an average has grown by 35% when compared to July, 2020. Multiple educational courses, cars, hospitals/ clinics, two wheelers and real estate have topped the list of categories who advertised in print media during last month. Media planners are hopeful that the next months of August and September will see further increase in print advertising with many regional festivals, Onam, Independence Day, Raksha Bandhan and Ganesh Chaturthi dotting the calendar.  The dhamaka of 15% discount has already begun in newspapers, the tempo will surely build up further before August 15, 2021, the 75th Independence Day. This year, Onam in Kerala begins on August 12 and ends on August 23, overlapping Independence Day and Raksha Bandhan on August 22. Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated next month on September 10. Together these festivals will be the precursors of the main festive season of Dussehra (Durga Puja) and Diwali.


Why print media still works in India, particularly during festivals? It is convenient to execute sales and other promotional campaigns in newspapers at short notice. The entry cost or the cost of creating static creative content for print media is less expensive than creating video creative content for TV, OTT and other digital formats. The local advertisers with comparatively small budgets rely on print media for advertising throughout the year. By definition all traditional media are push media delivering content to the users with little interactions between the media and the users. Pull media by definition is the opposite of push media where the users seek out information from media. During festive season, print media plays a dual role of both pull and push media as brands step up their advertising activity and consumers seek out information on various offers and discounts available in different stores and retail outlets. This interplay of push and pull of the print media will definitely continue for the next two or three years enabling the print media to recover its lost revenues.


In the last month, we saw many full-page and jacket advertisements in newspapers, a trend which is likely to continue well into the main festival season. Ads placed below the mastheads as well as some other formats which were considered as innovations when first introduced by newspapers, have now become part of the regular options like half page, quarter page, etc. offered by regularly by newspapers. As per market reports the deal sizes in the print media has started going up, demand for inventory for advertising space in newspapers is also on the rise. It can be safely assumed that if the pandemic does not cause any other disturbance, print media will recover a substantial portion of their lost revenue during 2021 and will reach the 2019 level much before 2025.



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