The Digital Advertising Market in India post Covid-19 by Harleen Gurunay Majithia

The industry of advertisement has been in service since the time of classics. From the drumming of town criers to the revolution of printing, the arena of advertisement has evolved to a new phase, namely, digitization – where time and distance hold no substance. And in the troubling times of covid-19 it has not only become the most wide reaching medium but also the most powerful in creating strong audience impressions.

A common metric for what a digital advertisement is that it is a media that does not merely involve dissemination of information and persuasion like its predecessors, but also stimulation of public demand through online campaigns, search engine optimization, social networking sites, viral advertising, e-mail and mobile marketing, blogs, pop ups and the list is endless. Its accuracy of measurement to track viewership through ‘hits’, ‘likes’ and ‘click throughs’ also render it much success similar to a proper feedback in a successful communication, thereby helping in market research and surveys. The search engines match the interests and topics of the browser with the targeted advertising without the browser realizing it. It effortlessly contextualizes the advertisement and seeps into the lives of its market audience.

It has been rightly observed that audience influences the media, and the media influences the audience. This observation has never been truer than in times of covid-19 when lockdowns have led to major lifestyle resets, especially in India which saw one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world. Although the Indian lifestyle had changed long ago, creating new demands that in turn led to further technological prowess in the country. The boom in telecom industry in this country has been extraordinary lately.  An enormous market in India has been created, first by making smart phones within the reach of common man and second by providing better internet speed. The 3Gs and the 4Gs have in turn given tremendous impetus to the digital advertising sector which further impacts the huge population, or it can be said, the market audience in the country. A report by Dentsu Aegis Network has stated that the media and advertising industry is shifting at a rapid speed and digital is certainly taking charge with a growth rate at 27% in 2020. It is to be noted here that post covid-19 this growth rate is very likely to increase manifold.

The topic of tussle is that to what extent digital advertising will be successful in Indian market given that the majority population of the country lives in remote rural areas and lacks data infrastructure. However, notwithstanding, the whole situation can also be looked from an optimistic angle. The increased availability of internet and smart phones in the recent past, combined with the new adoption of local language in technology has only increased the number of rural users, thereby creating more business. India has begun to change its digital narrative from the ground level itself, as can be observed in Indian governments ‘Digital India’ initiative and the recent demonetization which rather pushed the country for a digital up-gradation with people adopting and adapting online medium over the traditional ways. This has also turned out to be of immense help in the distressing times of covid-19 pandemic.

In the end, it is worth keeping in mind that digital advertising market in India is not solely about technology but also sociology. It is undeniable that a huge digital market awaits to be tapped in this country. Covid-19 has sadly but certainly opened a gateway for major new digital advertising trends that can take over India drastically. It is now only a matter of how it is optimized and utilized.

THE GREY ZONE

The future of digital advertising market in India post covid-19 certainly has potential but it also raises some pertinent issues since India is a developing nation. Mental Health: By working on the notion of selling the consumer to the product than the product to the consumer, it can lead to higher discontent in a society that is already going through a mental health challenge in these tough times. Managing Perception: When a large amount of information is fed and not merely dispensed, it is in other words – creation of a perception that can be managed by various digital tools. This can have serious repercussions since majority population of the country is rural and is primarily educated at a basic level. They would not be able to skeptically view or identify the sophisticated organic digital marketing. Young Market Audience: Even if the lack of data infrastructure in remote rural areas is completely met with, there would still be a major task of spreading awareness about various digital medium to safeguard especially the young market audience from falling prey to online rumors, fake news and suicidal mind games that often make way through digital advertising.