Industry POV

Is Print Media the Biggest Beneficiary of Demonetization? - Ashish Bhasin


Demonetization is definitely the flavor of the season and there is probably no industry that has been spared from the short-term tremors of this new policy by the government. Some players are feeling liquidity crunch while others are witnessing a drop in sales as the customers do not have immediate cash to transact.

As every new policy hits several players, it also creates space for some new players to chip in and make their presence felt. And, this time, e-wallets and digital payment brands are the biggest beneficiaries. Brands like Paytm, MobiKwik are making their presence felt as they have renewed their marketing spends and advertising across all medium. There have been reports where these brands have announced increased number of new accounts, nearly doubling their GMV’s and increased number of transactions. A lot of brands have themed their advertising around ‘Go Cashless’.

News Headlines Around Demonetisation

Interestingly, we are seeing that banks, e-wallets, and digital first companies are strongly advertising on Print media, both national and regional. Any newspaper of the day will have around 70 per cent of the total number of ads from these brands promoting their cashless features. Most of these ads appear in the form of jackets, full page ads and the brands are doing so to attract the digitally savvy audience as the country heads towards a cashless economy.

Print Ads from Brands Around Demonetisation

As per several experts, the key idea for taking the print media route is that print is less expensive than television, while it ensures a strong reach even in the deepest corners of the society. And secondly, the medium has the ability to hyper-local. So, in this scenario, is print medium the biggest gainer in comparison to other counterparts such as radio, television, digital and OOH?

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO – South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network begs to differ stating that overall advertising is down and print media is no different. “From an overall perspective, advertising spends are down across all mediums. The general belief is that it’s a short term thing but in the longer run the move will benefit the industry. All mediums are suffering, though digital is a little better off. Print is also in the same boat except in some categories such as mobile wallet, e-commerce, and banks introducing digital payments are giving ads. So, that is a little compensation for the loss of business for print titles,” mentions Bhasin.

He further adds that the impact will be felt for one quarter, if not more, because the sentiment has to change and the money has to move to consumers’ hands.

“Traditionally, this is busiest quarter for advertising and the anticipation for ad-spends was around Rs 20,000 Crore. This is roughly, 35-40% of total adex, which gets spent in this quarter itself. So from that perspective, the timing of demonetisation was not great. First half of the quarter went well with Diwali spends but the rest half will be impacted. Around Rs 10,000 Crore of advertising would be impacted and will be down by 15%, which comes to Rs 1500 Crore until the end of December. So, what is left to be seen is that whether this spends will be utilized in January or not. Some of the brands have cancelled the ads while many have postponed. They are waiting for consumers to get the cash,” shares Bhasin.

Stating a similar sentiment, Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media also mentioned that Print Media has got badly hit. “It is difficult to put a number to the overall advertising industry loss. It is a wait and watch game. But I guess the quarter impact will be around 10%-15%. I don’t think Print is gaining and others are losing,” adds Sakhuja.

However, since there is a rise in the number of ads from digital payment players and banks, does this mean that these categories are compensating for the losses in ad spends by other categories?

Varghese Chandy, VP, Malayala Manorama pointed that it is too early to say that emerging category of e-wallets or digital payments will make up for the losses of the print media as the retailers are badly affected and we can see a lot of suspended spends.

“Overall it’s a positive trend, and I wonder why these e-wallet players did not start advertising previously and waited for demonetization. I think it’s an emerging trend that helps print media as we are seeing enquiries about front pagers, jackets and lot is happening in the English newspapers but less in the regional,” shares Chandy.

Adding to this Debu Mishra, Media Consultant, shares that Print media has definitely benefitted a lot. “All e-wallet players are giving massive advertising to them in order to create reach. These brands have somehow compensated for the other categories but have not given a big surge. However, this new category is going to stay,” opines Mishra.

Overall, the industry believes that the cut in ad spends is a short term phenomenon and things will shape up for the better January onwards.