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Last Updated : Mar 19, 2020 09:35 PM IST

Coronavirus pandemic: Uncertainty grips digital advertising as many sectors slash ad spend

An estimated 70 percent of the 5.5 crore people employed in the tourism business could lose their jobs, says FAITH.

The prevailing uncertainty owing to the coronavirus outbreak will also spell bad news for digital advertising which had seen a 26 percent growth in 2019.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea, said, “Advertising is a dependent business function and overall, businesses are taking very calculative steps. In these trying times, certain categories are majorly affected while the others are on an overdrive. However, the overdrive doesn’t compensate for the losses and hence it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty flat line.”

He said he is seeing tourism boards, films and live event clients cutting down spends drastically.


The tourism industry is one of the worst affected sectors due to the rapid spread of the outbreak.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) said that an estimated 70 percent of the 5.5 crore people directly and indirectly employed in the tourism business including hotels, tourism companies and middlemen could lose their jobs.

As for films and live events, the directive to avoid large gatherings and stay indoors is resulting in event cancellations. Many film releases have also been postponed.

Even the Indian Premier League (IPL), one of the biggest sporting properties in India, has been moved to April 15 from March 29.

“IPL being postponed will definitely affect Q4 targets and the March closing numbers of agencies that have brands that pivot around sports. They will cover that in the Q1 20-21, because pushing the dates won’t take away the relevance of IPL from their marketing plans. The larger worry is going to be the impact on businesses due to the current situation,” he said.

The silver lining is the surge in e-commerce and TV channels spends that Pillai is witnessing on his platform.

"While search and social will dominate, news sites will see an overdrive. Entertainment portals and OTT platforms will see a huge traffic inflow and hence will be lucrative investments. Streaming apps and gaming sites will also see a surge in use," he said.

He, however, added that “overdrive by certain categories still don’t cover up for the business lost from other big spenders.”
First Published on Mar 19, 2020 09:35 pm