Digital ad spend set to beat print

With digital consumption exploding, especially since the launch of Reliance Jio, digital ad spends have shot up at rates that bely belief.

Published: 09th December 2018 10:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2018 10:58 AM   |  A+A-

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That digital advertising would oust traditional mediums like print has long been a foregone conclusion. What comes as a surprise is how quickly this shift is happening in the Indian market. With digital consumption exploding, especially since the launch of Reliance Jio, digital ad spends have shot up at rates that bely belief. Multiple advertising spend forecasts for the next few years put growth rates at 28-35 per cent, with digital expected to oust print from the second spot within the next five years. 

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Take Zenith Media’s forecast released last week. The agency pegs digital advertising spending in India at Rs 9,752.3 crore in 2018 and expects this to hit a whopping Rs 20,913.4 crore by 2021. 

In contrast, television and newspaper ad spending is expected to grow, yes, but at a far slower rate. While TV is pegged to grow from Rs 24,156.9 cr to Rs 36,510.7 crore during the period, newspaper ad spends are expected to crawl along from Rs 22,341.1 crore to just Rs 25,408.5 crore. 

If the digital medium continues to sustain prodigious growth rates as expected by all and sundry, it is set to oust the oldest medium (print) from second spot sometime before 2024. “Digital will continue to accelerate both in reach and consumption,” notes Tanmay Mohanty, Group CEO at Zenith. 

Ad spending in advanced markets with much higher digital penetration can serve as a model for India’s future trajectory. Zenith’s report already pegs global digital ad spending at much higher than its closest rival television. Most of this growth has and is expected to come at the expense of print with “newspapers’ share of global spend (falling) from 25 per cent (2008) to 8 per cent (2018), while magazines’... from 12 per cent to 5 per cent. Print titles will continue to lose market share as their readers continue to move to online versions of print brands or other forms,” Zenith predicts. 

Others like KPMG in India’s Girish Menon agree. “At some point in the next 5 years (in India), digital is going to be larger than print and second only to TV..,” he says, adding that the triggers have been the rise in digital user base and time spent on digital mediums. “Digital also gives more flexibility for advertisers, allowing more engagement with the target audience…” Menon says. 

But as in all fledgling businesses, rapid scaling up is likely to bring challenges. Menon says one thing to watch for is standardisation of measurement — there is no set standard currently, with various players using metrics like clicks and impressions. “For now, brands are happy because there is a certain buzz. But, eventually, advertisers will begin to ask questions and lack of standardisation will become a problem,” Menon concludes. 

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