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Storyboard | How media agencies are preparing to make the Fifth Quarter golden

Moneycontrol logo Moneycontrol 18-09-2021 Chanpreet Khurana
a view of a city at night: Storyboard | How media agencies are preparing to make the Fifth Quarter golden © Chanpreet Khurana Storyboard | How media agencies are preparing to make the Fifth Quarter golden

As we step into the ‘fifth quarter’, an informal name given to the great Indian festive season, the country's top media planners describe marketers’ mood as “cautiously optimistic”. This is mainly due to sporadic localised lockdowns and the uncertainty around Covid-19’s third wave. However, marketers are pinning their hopes on the recovery of consumer confidence and reigniting their marketing engines to make the most of this period.

According to a recent survey by YouGov, consumer spending in urban India will be better than last year’s festive season. In rural pockets, with revival in monsoon there is a significant improvement in spending, media agency executives tell Storyboard.

From Fifth Quarter to Golden Quarter 

Given the fact that this period is packed with festivals and events including two major cricket properties - Indian Premier League (IPL) and ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, marketing spends are expected to see a significant spike. As per industry estimates, investments in festive marketing will see a 10-12% increase over last year. IPL, which was halted earlier this year after the virus infiltrated the bio-bubble, is set to come back with brands spending 12-15% more on their marketing campaigns.

Media agency executives note that categories like auto, smartphones, and real estate sectors are working on new launches and advertising around it. E-commerce players are gearing up for mega sale-based campaigns. At the sports events, consumer tech brands including fintech, edtech, e-sports categories will make a splash.

Navin Khemka, chief executive officer of MediaCom South Asia, says a host of brands from the startup ecosystem is looking at visibility only during the upcoming cricket events. Khemka says that IPL will set “a good tone” for the golden quarter and categories which are focusing only on live cricket will be able to make an impact before the festive clutter hits screens.

A time to save and a time to splurge

Vaishali Verma, CEO, Initiative, says, brands are busy with “intent building and creating consideration through festive campaigns. That’s mainly to regain consumers’ attention.” Verma expects festive quarter advertising spends to go back to 2019 levels.

Having said that, clients are being cautious about their media choices. Monaz Todywalla, chief executive officer of PHD India, explains: “Clients are closely evaluating media choices. We see them investing more on measurement. There seems to be a more pragmatic view even on impact and media spending.” Since the cost of reaching out to consumers is higher in the second-half of the year, “the top priority for advertisers is to work with the optimal mix and avoid price inflation,” says Shekhar Banerjee, chief client officer and head – West, Wavemaker India.

Brands are planning to splurge on digital, especially in content. Todywalla says, “We did see an increase for the short term in performance spends, but the focus on branding is returning, with marketers realising that top funnel is becoming critical to open new opportunities and segments.”

Advertising executives, however, are also keeping a close watch on consumer sentiment. The key concern is “sustaining demand,” says Khemka, adding that “consumers are seeking value buys and are deferring high value purchases.” Todywalla has similar views. “The biggest concern is uncertainty with the third wave – and what it may do to consumer sentiment, pressure on the marketing mix and of course how we unlock demand.” Todywalla and her counterparts at other media buying and planning companies are proposing integrated responses to business challenges, collaborating with creative agency partners for smarter solutions, and addressing these challenges with better analytics with fail-safe plans.

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