Come November 2018, the election season in India starts. Five states will hold their assembly elections in Nov/Dec 2018 – Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Telangana. Election season will end with General Elections in May 2019. Media is not complaining, I am not complaining as it will keep us busy and should attract more revenues.
The table below shows a healthy growth for digital advertising revenues for FY19 (ending March 2019). I think the beginning of FY20 too will be good for digital publishers in view of the General Elections 2019.
|Sector||FY18 (in INR Crore)||% change y-o-y (FY17 vs FY18)||Projected Advertising Revenue FY19 (in INR Crore)||Projected FY23 (in INR Crore)||CAGR % (2018-23)|
|Source: Kantar IMRB's Target Group Index & KPMG (ET, Oct 28, 2018)|
The majority of digital ad revenues have gone to Google and Facebook. Digital publishers would like the political fraternity to spend the ad dollars directly with them, instead of going thru an intermediary. This is unlikely to change in the near future. Also, publishers will need to think out of the box to offer something more than just users, page views and banners.
It is good to see politicians preferring to advertise on language sites for the simple reason, they can reach a far larger audience than English.
While most journalists and media houses are on Twitter, I don’t see big monies being spent on Twitter in India for the simple reason – it is expensive.
Will Digital Be Important in General Election 2019 in India?
This following table needs to get updated for 2019. In 2014, about 81 crore were eligible to vote, and in 2019 it is expected to be at least 94 crore (940 million). And the number of internet users has only grown since 2014: 193 million in 2013, 233 million in 2014, 500+ million in June 2018. Can politicians afford to ignore the digital medium? Hopefully not!
|General Elections in India||2004||2009||2014|
|Population (in billions)||1.12||1.21||1.29|
|Total Number of Eligible Voters (in millions)||668||714||814|
|First Time Voters (in millions)||17||43||101|
|Percentage of eligible voters who are first time voters||2.5%||6%||12.4%|
What is driving the growth of advertising revenues in India
With internet penetration growing, literacy growing, buying power increasing in rural areas digital publishers can see better days ahead.
Print and digital consumption are growing mainly due to regional languages. Brands prefer to use digital advertising as they can target the rural areas, again Indic plays a big role in this.
OOH (out-of-home) advertising could take a beating in a few cities. In Bengaluru, flex advertising has been banned for a year.
Video Advertising Will Dominate Digital Ad Spend
The below table shows there is not much variation in the number of hours each age group watches online videos in India. Not sure if this is good or bad.
|Age Group Watching Video in India||Hours/Week in 2017|
The below table shows the smaller the town, greater the consumption of online videos. I am reasonably sure in smaller towns the videos watched are language videos. It will take a long time in India for podcasts to take off in a big way.
|Population of Towns||Videos watched Hours/week in 2017|
|Top 8 metros||1.25|
|4 million +||1.14|
There is a huge difference in what is being watched on TV and online. While news, movies, soap operas, comedy serials dominate TV, it is short clips (comedy, UGC, music videos, entertainment news) that dominates online video platforms.
With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G will be as much as 1,000 times faster than 4G. The download time for a typical movie (8GB HD movie) will be just 6 seconds, compared with 7 minutes over 4G and over an hour with 3G. India will have 5G in the near future and online video consumption will only increase from the current levels.
Online video platforms will need to innovate quickly to get their users to consume news, election-related news. It is a good opportunity to innovate and test things now in view of the upcoming series of elections in India.