Homes are gearing up for the festive season and so are brands, which are optimistic about their sales uplift. Lately, I have been witnessing an advertising blitzkrieg by brands across all platforms—TV, digital, print, radio and out-of-home or OOH advertising. However, television, with a daily tune-in of 613 million individuals, offers the biggest platform to advertisers to get maximum reach. And, if you ask me, while the key to better sales is in promotion, it needs to be on the right platform, and one which can be accurately measured. It comes as no surprise that 42% of annual ad-spend in India ends up on TV.

Holidays and special programming during festivals, such as Dussehra and Diwali, lead to increased viewership on TV, making it the right time for these advertisers to catch the attention of their target audience. Some recent reports on brand push during festive season got me digging into our three years of advertising data during the festive period.

What is also interesting is to see how categories wait for this festive season to promote their products. Data shows that Dussehra and Diwali weeks see 17% more ads on TV, compared to the weekly average through the year. Not just this, categories, such as TV sets, camera and non-stick cookware, air 60%, 87% and 53%, respectively, of their total ad spots during this season. Other categories such as housing loans, paints and real estate, too, concentrate on this season for better brand push.

The appetite for TV in India continues to be on the rise and this has led to new channel launches over the years. What this has done is provided advertisers with an opportunity to be available on channels which cater to specific preferences of the audience, thus increasing their opportunity to see.

Many in the industry have been talking about growth of digital and attractiveness of the medium for advertising. While there is growth in the medium, the power of TV is in the high level of granularity of viewership data. Advertisers can get to know exactly how many people their campaigns reached, as well as demography, geography and socio-economic profile of the audience they reached. This is gold-dust for planners and marketers. An industry veteran, in fact, recently said that TV, and its effective and granular measurement, helps brands plan better towards gaining a better ROI on their ad-spends.

To break a few myths, advertising on TV has been growing year-on-year. In fact, we see an upward trend in advertising spots in the weeks leading up to the festive season, and a sustained spike during festive seasons, year-on-year. Compared to Dussehra/Diwali weeks in 2015, advertising saw 21% growth in 2017. This year, the climb in advertising on TV started from July. From July to September, ad insertions on TV have already recorded 12% growth and our sense is that it will only go up further closer to the festive season. The fact that close to 26 new categories hopped on to TV from 2015 to 2017 is clearly an indicator of the power that the medium holds.

So what are the categories that up their presence on TV during this festive season? For the past two years, it has been cell phones, two-wheelers, online shopping sites and chocolates.

While in 2015, during Dussehra and Diwali, online shopping players upped their advertising by 49%, in 2016 it grew by 86%, and, in 2018, so far, we have seen growth of 40%. Two-wheeler advertising, meanwhile, increased by 113% in 2015 and 107% in 2016. In 2017, cell phones upped advertising by 107%, while retail jewellers too hopped on to the TV bandwagon, increasing their advertising by 83% during festive season.

Viewers in North and South India behave differently during festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali. This reflects in advertising on channels catering to these markets. In the north, for instance, many homes buy a new vehicle. So, we see a rise in advertising of two-wheelers on Hindi language channels. The category pumped in 138% and 229% more advertising on TV in 2015 and 2016, respectively. On channels catering to the five southern states, retail jewellery and ready-made garment sectors see double-digit growth in advertising.

What’s equally interestingly is the sharp dip in ads immediately after the festive season. In 2015, ad spots on TV, in the period post-Diwali, dropped by 13%. In 2016 and 2017 it dropped by 22% and 7% respectively.

Over the years though, we are seeing that many brands, especially e-commerce and cell phone players, among others, have been effectively using granular insights provided by TV viewership data, and are coming up with focused advertising throughout the year and not just during festive season.

Looking at the data, I feel that the economy has moved ahead from the policy impacts of last year. Confidence in the economy and consumer seems to be on a high and advertising on TV looks set to scale another high. This surely, is going to be a better festive season than last year. I am putting my money on that!

Partho Dasgupta is CEO of BARC India. Follow him @parthodasgupta

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