Just recently few state elections concluded (Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram) and two big ones are going to be held on December 7, 2018 (Rajasthan and Telangana).
Earlier I wrote general elections 2019 will be good for digital ad revenues in India. From what I saw these recently held state elections did not fetch any ad revenues for digital publishers. Few reasons could be,
- Is the internet penetration in these states not sizable? Karnataka, which had its elections in May 2018, has 17 million Facebook users.
State FB Users (Dec 2018) Mizoram 340,000 Chhattisgarh 4.1 m Madhya Pradesh 12 m Rajasthan 15 m Telangana 10 m (Hyderabad 7.7m) India 270 m
- Candidates, rather than the political parties tend to spend on digital ads (we saw that pattern in Karnataka)
- Each of the two major political parties assumes they will win (or lose), hence no point in spending on digital ads.
- However, they did spend on print and TV ads. Unfair.
Have digital publishers figured out a way to reach the people we see in this photo? In just 2-3 years I believe internet penetration will reach many more in India. India expects to “add” another 500 million internet users soon. By 2021, India will have 536 million Indic users & 200 million English users.
Ultimately one tends to spend on a platform/site if they consider it to be an influencer. A politician wants their ad to be seen on a particular digital platform (FB vs individual publishers vs Google, forget Twitter) if they feel the reader gets influenced.
A digital publisher can attract that kind of user base only if they publish unbiased opinion articles, backed by data. It is best to focus on getting users/traffic for assembly election coverage with the assumption the ad revenues will come from sources other than the political field.
I still think digital publishers in India have a great opportunity for covering General Elections 2019. But are the publishing houses ready to invest in good content?
Irrespective of who wins in these 5 state assembly elections, I believe digital publishers lost.