Nov 28, 2008

Business - Print advertising melts down

Shuchi Bansal

Newspapers advertising volume drops 60 per cent in the first week of November.

November may turn out to be the cruellest month for India’s print media industry. If AdEX data on advertising volume between 1st and 7th November is any indication, print media advertising (in column cms) has fallen by a dramatic 60 per cent from its peak during the Diwali week.

LV Krishnan, CEO of TAM Media that owns the advertising monitoring division AdEX, declines to share figures for the rest of the month as he claims the data is still being collated. “Whether print media volumes further declined, remained the same or improved will be known only after the research is over by November-end,” says Krishnan.

According to AdEX, which monitors nearly 800 newspapers in the country, the column centimeter space used by advertisers in the first week of this month was even lower than what they used during the shradh period in September. From a high of 5.2 million column cm, the print volume dipped to 2.1 million column cm in the first week of November. This is lower than the 2.9 million column cm that AdEX registered between 14 September and 20 September this year.

AdEx does not monitor advertising spends in value terms but the research offers insights into how different product categories have curtailed their advertising. Compared to October (first week) 2008, advertising by independent retailers and real estate companies dipped 73 per cent and 67 per cent respectively in the first week of November.

“We do not collate spends but the dip in ad volumes in some categories is actually mirroring the developments on ground,” says the TAM spokesperson. In short, advertising volumes of the top 10 print media advertisers have plummeted by 44 per cent.

The news from Mumbai is worse. The total print media ad volume (only display advertising) in the city has not grown at all between January to October 2008 compared to the same period last year. In fact it has dipped marginally from 9662,000 to 9641,000 column cm. “Even the yields have declined, a fact that newspaper owners admit only in private,” observes Manajit Ghoshal, chief financial officer at Mid Day Multimedia.

Little surprise, then, that in Mumbai a leading newspaper is hawking its advertising space for Rs 999 under a special scheme to its advertisers against the regular price of Rs 5,000 per square centimeter. Anita Nayyar, CEO of the media agency MPG, says its tough to hazard a guess on the decline in advertising in value terms, “but it could be around 15 per cent.” CD Mitra, president, Mudra Max refuses to put a figure to the possible drop in ad spends but says that “print may also be losing out as the latest Indian Readership Survey shows an overall decline in readership. Youngsters do not engage with the printed word.”

A senior Bennett, Coleman & Company executive says that The Times of India, the country’s largest English daily, has seen about 7 per cent drop in advertising in recent months. “It does not seem much, but for a paper like ToI which is a huge volume player, the drop is significant,” comments a newspaper industry expert. Sharad Saxena, executive director, HT Media Ltd, claims that at Hindustan Times, advertising is moving to its city supplement HT City. “Advertisers find it a good value-for-money proposition as 96 per cent of Hindustan Times readers read HT City.”

Again, magazine publishers are not forthcoming on the decline in advertising but have stopped printing supplements that accompanied their flagships brands. Envy and City Limits will no longer supplement Outlook. India Today has suspended publication of its health supplement Pink. Media specialists say that magazine supplements are used mostly to absorb the glut in advertising. “Currently luxury and lifestyle advertising is on hold as people are conserving resources. Lifestyle advertising disappears when consumer sentiment gets hit. It is more about mood than actual spending,” says Mitra of Mudra Max.

All eyes are now on AdEX’s data for the rest of the month to see if the consumer sentiment has improved or not.

1 comment:

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