Salvaging Nepali advertising digitally

By Riza Poudel

Background

No doubt, the global advertising is also being marred by the onset of COVID-19 crisis.  A large number of the companies and industries worldwide have slashed their advertising budget as part of cost control measures to survive the financial slum brought by such crisis. This, no wonder, is causing a downturn in the ad spending.    

According to the data published by Statista.com, “In the light of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns, many industries across the globe have made a downward revision of the estimated advertising spending in 2020. So, such spending globally is projected to be slashed by some 20 billion US dollars to 691.7 billion U.S. dollars this year.

Similarly, a survey by Marketing Hub concludes that as many as 69% of international brands will reduce their ad expenditure in 2020 as a result of the current adverse socio-economic circumstances.

The WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) also released a study last May that predicts a 31% decrease in the advertising investments globally for this year.  The WFA further divulges that the ad agencies lost 54 % to 91% of their total billings in the last April alone owing to the COVID-19 crisis.

As far as the Nepali ad industry goes, it, too, is being bedeviled by such crisis. Nepali companies/brands tend to cut back on their advertising budget as a first cost control measure in the wake of any socio-economic turmoil. And, the same tendency is surfacing again, with the imposition of the coronavirus-induced national lockdown on March 24. Due to this, the Rs 10 billion ad industry has lost significant volume of revenues for the last three/four months.  According to the estimations, the volumes of ads in the electronic and print media have gone down by 50 percent and 95 percent respectively over this period.   

Similarly, there is currently an average 50 percent deduction in the monthly salaries of the staffers of the country’s ad agencies. Many of such agencies may even resort to furloughs and layoffs if their businesses continue to go down.  

One should note that the ad business was already taking a hit due to various reasons even before the onset of the ongoing coronavirus menace in the country. And, after such onset, its growth is estimated to have further nosedived by a shocking 70 to 75 percent. This is also affecting some 200 thousand people directly/indirectly employed by the ad agencies. 

 As a matter of fact, the ad industry strictly seems like a sinking boat. But, fortunately, it can still be salvaged from complete debacle.  For this, it is mandatory to adopt the wisest and smartest strategy.

What is such strategy and how can it help?

In the current critical period, the very strategy could well be the full leverage of the idea of digital advertising.The internet consumption in the country has surged by a whopping 50 percent during the ongoing lockdown period. Similarly, as many as 72 percent i.e 21.1 million of the total Nepali population have now access to the internet. Moreover, the trend of releasing ads through digital platforms is growing by almost 80 to 100 every year in the country. 

The date is encouraging, to say the least. And this, of course, translates into promising business opportunities for both the advertisers and agencies in terms of internet advertising.  

In simpler terms, this form of advertising is the process of publishing promotional materials through online platforms such as social media, search engines, websites, etc.  

It enjoys competitive edge over other traditional media channels (like print, electronic and outdoor) because of its certain unique features.

For instance, it is more targeted as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) helps put one’s brand name and content marketing at every stage of the buying cycle.

Similarly, the online advertising invites mobile engagement that allows the advertisers to reach the target audience every time they are online. It is especially a great platform to connect to the Gen Z and Millennial customers, who today strongly dominate the marketplaces.      

The web advertising is also easily measurable as one can track virtually every activity the target audience performs in regards to the ad. Moreover, it assists to effectively evaluate both soft metrics brand awareness, organic search, etc and hard metrics such as revenue, profit, etc.  

Thanks to these virtues, digital advertising helps in yielding not only relative high Return on Investment (RoI) but also connect more deeply with the customers.

It also shows that doing ads digitally is the most viable business proposition both for the advertisers and agencies, especially in the present unfavorable circumstances.

Conclusion

In order to facilitate the process of the full adoption of the web advertising strategy, some efforts are simply imperative. For instance, the government must soon come up with a regulatory framework to systematize the payments of such advertising. Similarly, the agencies need to forge a strategic understanding with the advertisers to promote such advertising in an effective and efficacious way.

 Currently, the size of the internet advertising is Rs 1.8 billion with the social media amounting to Rs 1 billion and the online media Rs 800 million. If the said steps are taken, this will also surely help in further augmenting the growth of such advertising. All in all, digital advertising is the best bet for the ad industry to survive the economic disaster triggered by the COVID-19.

Author Riza Poudel

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