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MEDIA AGENCIES: NAVIGATING THE UNPREDICTABLE TIMES

BY CHRISTINA MONIZ

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At the start of the year, industry bodies and media agencies had their predictions in place with projections for Adex to grow at an estimated rate of 10% in 2020. About a month later, as the industry finds itself grappling with an enormous challenge in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, media agency leaders are uncertain about the days ahead.

The Indian summer months usually see higher volumes of ad spends, especially with the Indian Premier League (now cancelled) and with sectors like FMCG, travel and tourism and consumer durables raising their spends.

What is noteworthy, however, is that TV viewership has seen a sudden jump of 8% during the lockdown (as per a report released by Nielsen and the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India). This has resulted in a 13% growth in ad volumes in the week that ended March 20, compared with the pre-COVID-19 period.

While the future does look gloomy, agencies are doing whatever it takes to keep their businesses running, whether it is through virtual pitches or taking a digital-first approach for all campaigns and communication. “Everything is being coordinated and managed through calls and by using all forms of available technology.

Economists predict a dismal GDP growth of 2% or less, which will have a direct impact on Adex. According to the Madison Media Matters newsletter released by Vikram Sakhuja, Partner & Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH, the Adex growth projection as per Pitch Madison Advertising Report released on February 13, 2020 was 10.4%.

The report’s projections were made keeping in mind that GDP growth would be 4%-5% until September this year, and 7% after that. However, if GDP does fall to 2%, we may see an overall shrinking of Adex by 0-5%. The report recommends that brands should remain authentic and build trust in these troubled times instead of being opportunistic.
Will that period be three months in India or more than that? We don’t know. We are hoping we will recover as fast as or faster than China,” says MA Parthasarathy, CEO, South Asia, Mindshare. He adds that media agencies for now just have to work towards minimising impact from the lockdown and plan better.
Pointing out that all agencies and companies should share experiences and learnings through this difficult time,


Today, we are working remotely and ensuring that all our functions are operational and most important, compliant,” states Navin Khemka, CEO, MediaCom South Asia.
Agencies are also going the extra mile to make sure that employees do not feel isolated in these times. Bhasin adds, “The social distancing mandate requires companies to work towards achieving virtual proximity.”

Therefore, while agencies like MediaCom are lining up fun virtual activities like quizzes and ‘tamboola’, others like IPG Mediabrands have joined hands with FCB India to create a virtual ‘happy hour’ on Friday evening for employees in both companies. It allows everyone to unwind as well as showcase their various talents.

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Tags : media agencies advertising Ashish Bhasin Navin Khemka Christina Moniz Rana Barua Madison Media Ajay Gupte COVID-19 shutdown