New Delhi: Political advertising on television touched never-seen-before highs in elections to the 15th Lok Sabha even as that in print saw a fall.
An analysis, by Adex India, a division of Mumbai-based audience research company TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, shows that the volume of political advertising on television went up around 600% from 862,000 seconds in the five months to May 2004 to 4,979,000 seconds in the period between 1 January and 10 May.
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The number of advertisers also went up from 30 in 2004 to 54 this year. “Television penetration has significantly gone up in the past four years, so it, obviously, was the medium of choice for parties wanting to reach the masses,” said Farokh Balsara, national sector leader, media and entertainment, Ernst and Young India, an audit and consulting firm.
There were 90 million television households in the country in 2004 and 120 million in 2009. The analysis shows that the party in power outscores its rivals in the war for mindshare. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the biggest advertiser in terms of air-time bought on channels in 2004, this year, the Congress led with a 40% share of voice. The BJP trailed with a 24% share of voice.
Interestingly, Andhra Pradesh-based Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has been one of the most aggressive advertisers among regional parties in both years. In 2004, the party was the third largest advertiser with a 8% share whereas this year, it has emerged the fourth largest player with 6% share in overall poll noise on television.
The numbers may have been skewed by the fact that assembly and parliamentary elections were held in Andhra Pradesh simultaneously—in 2004 and this year, too.
Print, however, seems to have lost some influence among contenders for the Lok Sabha. The total amount of space bought by political parties in 2009 declined from 2,315,000 col. cms in 2004 to 1,903,000 col. cms in 2009.
The analysis considered metro newspapers till 9 May and non-metro newspapers and magazines till 7 May for the analysis. The number of advertisers, however, rose to 170 this year from 137 in 2004.
The Congress led the race in terms of advertising in print as well with 37% share of the total political advertising against BJP’s 13%. Interestingly, in 2004, too, the Congress, with 30% share, bought more space in print than BJP, which trailed with a 27% share.
Some experts point out that the parties devised different media plans to tap their target audience. “This time, BJP has been very strategic in their approach. They used a lot of new and local mediums such as district newsletters, local newspapers, Internet and radio, while Congress has gone national,” said P.N. Vasanti, director of New Delhi-based research organization Centre for Media Studies and Mint columnist.
Meanwhile, radio emerged as a preferred medium among parties to connect with the voters. The medium accounted for 1,964,000 seconds of political advertising between 1 January and 9 May. Political advertising on radio was allowed for the first time during this elections, so there are no comparable numbers for 2004.
“Radio would have accounted for around 10% of money spent on election campaigns, which should roughly translate into Rs60 crore,” said Sunil Kumar, managing director, Big River Radio (India) Pvt. Ltd, a New Delhi-based consultancy.
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint
C.R. Sukumar in Hyderabad contributed to this story.