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Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New-age internet firms tap print’s reach, credibility to build brands

  • Apart from promotions and brand building, internet firms leverage print ads to start topical conversations
  • Advertising spend for print is expected to reach 18,140 crore in 2020

NEW DELHI : New-age online firms such as cab hailers, food-ordering platforms and those in e-commerce advertise in newspapers to maximize brand awareness and promote sales to engage the masses, including prospective customers, said marketers.

According to a report by media agency GroupM released earlier this month, advertising spend for print is expected to reach 18,140 crore in 2020.

“Large e-commerce players such as Amazon and Flipkart have built a large part of their brand and business with the help of print advertising since their launch. I see that they will continue to use the medium to penetrate smaller regional markets as the growth of print is high in the vernacular space. They will leverage smaller editions in smaller markets where they will replicate their launch strategy across metros," said H. Vishwanath, managing partner, Mediacom, a media agency owned by GroupM.

PhonePe had recently said that it will spend 800 crore in advertising and marketing to take on competition and penetrate deeper into the country with a chunk of its ad spends dedicated to traditional platforms, including print. The Flipkart-owned united payments interface aims to create awareness and drive usage among consumers, as well as small businesses, especially in smaller towns.

“Our category is still evolving and we have numerous users that we still have to get to. Traditional media still holds good for us. We need to get more and more users into the fold of digital payments. Print has added to the brand awareness, making us a household name," said Sameer Nigam, founder and chief executive, PhonePe.

Marketers from online firms said sales promotions and offers remain one of the key areas of print advertising. Flagships sales, such as Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Days’ and Amazon’s ‘Great Indian Sale’, are often promoted heavily through full-page print ads, wherein retailers get to list products and offers. Food-ordering apps, such as Zomato and Swiggy, too, prefer the print platform for sales promotions.

“While digital works wonderfully when targeting a specific audience, print will always be the platform of choice for mass interactions. We have largely employed print ads for sales announcements spanning new services, offers and even on-boarding of a new restaurant. In our country you can trust print to deliver for you, especially when you want to reach across tiers," said Sandeep Anand, chief marketing officer, food delivery, Zomato.

Apart from promotions and brand building, internet companies have also leveraged print ads to start topical conversations. Case in point, cab-hailing firm Uber. “We used print ads to urge people to go out to vote (in the 2018 Karnataka elections) and in the Valentine’s Day campaign last year, we did a rainbow heart drive, symbolizing our commitment to inclusivity. Print garners a high readership across geographies and remains a credible source of information. It helps create impact and visibility, especially on topical conversations," said an Uber India spokesperson.

Print advertisement is also an important tool for brand recall and to build an image around social issues. WhatsApp released full-page print ads in 2018 to create awareness around spotting and reporting fake news articles and videos.

“Different clients use print ads for different reasons, including call to action, promotions, or to some extent, brand building as well. There is a large section of people who still read newspapers, making print ads relevant, especially in the vernacular space. The medium is delivering. It doesn’t come cheap, but continues to attract advertisers," said Vishwanath.

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