The festive season which contributes 40 percent to the overall advertising expenditure is likely to help the ad spends reach pre-COVID levels this year.
Advertising spends saw a huge drop last year due to coronavirus impact when brands cut down their marketing spends across mediums from TV, print to radio.
According to a report by Dentsu, an advertising company, the ad market saw a 12.9 percent decline in 2020.
While ad spends were under pressure last year, this year media planners say that recovery in advertising expenditure will be faster especially during the festive season.
"Things are getting back to normalcy. The sentiments are positive. Monsoons are stable. So, the ingredients are there. We are expecting better buoyancy, better performance, much better than last festive season. But pandemic is a caution," said Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO, DAN India, a marketing and advertising company.
Prashant Puri, Co-Founder & CEO, AdLift, a global digital marketing agency, said that ad spends this year will go back to pre-COVID levels given that both Diwali and IPL occur during the same time period.
Coinciding with the festive season, the remainder of the 14th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) will be played starting September, followed by T20 World Cup. And this is making media planners confident about a stronger recovery in overall ad spends during the festive season as compared to last year.
Sadhvi Dhawan, Group Media Director, Blink Digital, a digital agency, pointed out that this year's spending during the festive period should at least be 25 percent higher as compared to the 2020 festive period.
"Spends on digital were back to pre-COVID levels across all categories from the second quarter this year. With the onset of festivities, major sports events, reality shows and new season launches of web series, ad spends will increase further along with TV and DOOH (digital out of home) which is likely to take overall ad spends even higher than what it was pre-COVID," she added.
Another media planner Sahil Chopra, CEO and Founder, iCubesWire, a digital marketing solution firm, said, "This year, with assumption of no third (COVID-19) wave, we expect the brands to at least look at spending 3x–4x of what they spent last year."
Reports suggest that many companies are looking at increasing their spends up to 20 percent versus pre-COVID levels on marketing keeping in mind the festive season.
"We are looking at trends of industries aligning high advertising spends during October to the last week of November covering Durga Pooja, Dussehra and Diwali. Spends are also being aligned towards year end as well but brands are cautious and will be taking calls based on COVID-19 state," said Vipin Guliani, CEO and Co-founder of Eridium (digital performance marketing company.
In pre-COVID times, brands have always looked at the festival quarter from a standpoint of massive growth, said Vikas Agarwal - COO & Co-Founder, Blogchatter (Blogging & Media Platform).
"But this year the buzzword will be recovery. Ad spends will play a big role in setting this sentiment not just for sales but also to turn consumer behaviour for good," he added.
Dhawan noted that last year ad spends in mobile entertainment (real money gaming, streaming platforms) were at par with 2019, but much less across others like retail, FMCG, etc.
This year during the festive season it is expected that consumer durable companies, FMCG, auto and e-commerce firms will lead the revival in ad spends.
Eridium's Guliani said that the above categories will be the major spenders as these industries have taken a big hit during 2020 and are trying to increase sales. "BFSI and real estate industries are also ramping up their campaigns to leverage the festive season," he added.
Even fashion is expected to spend significantly on marketing during the festive season this year.
Blink Digital's Dhawan pointed out that while gaming, ecommerce, SVOD, and retail will continue spending on ads, the new age categories like crypto, edtech, TVOD (transactional video-on-demand), and short video format apps will also be increasing ad spends this festive season.
Digital, not just in terms of categories but as a medium also, will drive ad spends this year.
AdLift's Puri estimates a 45 to 55 percent growth in year-on-year digital ad spends during the festive period.
"Spends are picking up and especially on digital as one thing COVID-19 did was more consumption on digital including OTT and digital shot assets," said Shuchi Sethi, India Lead - AnyTag, an influencer marketing platform.
While the share of digital will grow in the overall advertising pie, TV will continue to command the highest share of ad spends.
Advertising revenue on TV is expected to be 95 percent of pre-COVID level by the end of 2021 and this will be driven by the two cricketing properties IPL and T20 World Cup as well as the launch of non-fiction properties like Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), BiggBoss, among others.Along with TV and digital, Bhadkamkar said that print will also see a strong recovery which had dropped from Rs 20,600 crore in 2019 to Rs 12,200 crore last year.