What do Industry Reports say about Indian advertising industry performance in 2019? Part 1

Industry Reports on Indian Ads Performance for 2019


Unable to keep track of industry reports? Overwhelmed by the volume of bookmarked articles on Indian advertising? We hear you.

This article contains key insights and facts curated from reports on media and advertising in India, published by authentic and popular publishers and curated by us with some useful insights from our business.

This article would be very helpful for

  • Students interested in advertising and looking for quick bytes for interview preparation
  • Marketing professionals for job interviews and client pitches

This article would cover the performance of these five media in India in 2019:

  1. Television Advertising
  2. Newspaper Advertising
  3. Magazine Advertising
  4. Radio Advertising
  5. Digital Advertising

The insights would be based on TAM reports on Media Performance in 2019, Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2020, DAN E4M Digital Report 2020, BARC What India Watched 2019 and The Media Ant Internal Data. (Reference Links present at the end of the article.

To make the article more comprehensible and easy to use, we have divided the articles into questions. You can navigate to any part using the links in the questions:


1. How did the Indian Advertising Industry perform in 2019?

2019 was a year of high expectations but ended up with muted growth. The trinity of IPL 2019, ICC Cricket World Cup and General Elections brought in good revenues in the first half of the year but NTO and poor performance of industries like automobile, BFSI, and real estate affected the overall growth badly.

Recently, reports have been published in the Indian advertising industry in 2019. Following are their estimate about the growth in ad spend in the year 2019:

DAN E4M Digital ReportPMAR 2020 ReportEY M&E Report 2020*
Overall Growth9.4%11%9%

*This refers to total industry size which includes both advertising revenue as well as subscription revenue

There was another report by TAM that gave an idea of the performance of TV, Print, and Radio in terms of ad volume over the last 5 years.

Rise and drop in ad volume from 2016 to 2019 compared to year 2015

Following are some of the factors that affected each medium:

  • Television Advertising: Television advertising’s performance in the year 2019 has been quite dramatic. In terms of quarterly performance, Q2 was the only quarter that witnessed growth due to IPL, World Cup and Elections. All the other 3 quarters saw degrowth due to NTO, economic slowdown and a damp festive season. The TV adex in 2019 H2 was 22% lower than that of 2019 H1 (PMAR 2020) 
  • Print Advertising: Out of all the advertising media, print has exhibited the lowest growth but if one compares the performance of print globally where it is facing degrowth, print performance is good in India. Like television, print advertising had a good time in 2019 H1. However, in the second half, especially the festive period, it witnessed a slump of about 10% due to economic slowdown (PMAR 2020). Another major factor affecting the print advertising industry in India is people switching to the digital medium. Earlier, the trend was limited to the English language but with digital becoming popular among vernacular language readers, other language publications have also started feeling the heat.
  • Radio Advertising: Radio too exhibited a performance similar to that of television and print by registering 18% growth in 2019 H1 backed by political campaigns by local leaders during General Elections followed by a drop of 6% in ad spend during H2 2019 due to economic slowdown (PMAR 2020). One of the important development in terms of radio advertising is the rise of non-FCT advertising options like branded content, social media posting, BTL events, etc.
  • Cinema Advertising: Cinema advertising is the only advertising medium other than digital which is witnessing a growth of 20-30%. Although the reach of cinema halls as a medium is much lesser than other media and accounts only for 2% of total ad spend, it is growing significantly. Some of the factors that are driving the growth are: (a) Wider acceptance of cinema halls among NCCS A and B in tier 1 and tier 2 cities; (b) Consolidation of cinema screens (c ) Digitization of ad delivery method leading to gain in the trust from advertisers.
  • OOH Advertising: Like TV, Print, and Radio, outdoor advertising was also adversely affected by the economic slowdown. Apart from the usual advertisers like real estate, auto, retail, etc, outdoor advertising also witnessed a lot of spending from political parties as well as OTTs last year.
  • Digital Advertising: As expected, digital advertising witnessed the highest growth. The contribution from all the four major ad types of digital advertising: search, display, social and the video was almost equal while video advertising was the highest contributor with a growth of 59% (PMAR 2020). Another noteworthy fact about digital advertising is that about 94% of digital adex is on mobile (PMAR 2020).

2.  Which months/events witnessed the highest advertising volume in India in 2019?

Like most other industries, the advertising industry also has peak seasons and off-seasons. Two of the most popular advertising seasons in India are marked by the Indian Premier League which takes place in March-May and the other one is the festive season which mostly falls around Sep-Nov every year. Apart from this, there are many events/festivals that mark a spike in advertising demand. Some of the prominent ones according to The Media Ant are:

  • Festivals: India is the land of festivals. While festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali are the most important ones that involve people purchasing high-ticket items, there are several festivals that is very popular in certain regions like Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Vasant Panchami in West Bengal, Onam in Kerala and Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra.
  • Seasons: Most regions in India experience extreme climates giving rise to very high demand for cooling appliances, cold beverages, water parks, summer camps, etc during summers and thermal wear, sweaters, hot drinks, heating devices, etc during winter seasons.
  • School/College Admissions: Education is very important in India and there a number of schools and colleges that compete to gain parents’ and students’ attention during the admission season. Not only schools, colleges, Engineering and MBA colleges, but advertisers in categories like coaching institutes, online education, stationery and book shops, etc make the best use of this season.
  • Wedding Season: The wedding market in India is worth USD 50 billion. The wedding season is marked by the auspicious dates for conducting Hindu weddings. From jewelry brands to automobile, fashion to event managers, this season is important for several business categories.
  • Sports Events: Sports, especially cricket, is one of the most important sources of entertainment in the country. Advertisers spend a huge amount of money to advertise during the live telecasts of the sports on television and digital platform as well as outdoor advertising in and around the stadium. This creates a huge impact on the audience’s mind.
  • Elections: Elections are important events for the advertisers when the audience is glued to the television set and consume more news on newspapers, magazines, and digital news platforms as well. Not only this, but almost all the political parties also rely on mass media like newspapers, outdoor advertising, and radio to reach out to the public for votes.
  • Movie Releases: Though cinema advertising forms a minuscule part of the advertising industry, mega-blockbuster movies attract several advertisers as they promise more footfalls to the cinema halls and a greater impact on the audience’s mind.

Following is a chart showing how the ad volumes across television, print, radio, and digital were distributed throughout the year 2019 (Source: TAM Reports)

the ad volumes across television, print, radio, and digital distributed throughout the year 2019

Following are some of the observations made by TAM:

  • The overall ad volume was very high during the festive season, especially on radio and print. This is due to the various sale promotions that brands do during the festive season and they rely more on local media like newspapers and radio for customized offers and shorter turnaround time.
  • Another important season in terms of ad volume was the IPL season when digital and TV saw a large number of ads.
  • Jul-Aug and Nov-Dec are the months having the lowest advertising spends.
  • Television Advertising: Overall, advertising volume was high during the months of Apr-May due to IPL and in October due to the festive season. The month of Feb witnessed the lowest ad volume. In the month of Feb and March (during the wedding season), television advertising was topped by ‘Lalithaa Jewellery’. While the months of April, May, and June saw FMCG products (Santoor and Dettol soaps and Colgate Toothpaste) topping the charts. The festive months of October and November saw Trivago, a hotel booking aggregator placing the maximum number of ads.
  • Print Advertising: Overall, print advertising witnessed the highest number of ads during the festive season. The months of Automobile was the top category in the months of Jan-Mar (Wedding Season). The education sector placed the highest number of ads during the months of Apr-Jul (Admission Season). For the rest of the months, “car/jeep” was the top category for advertising except Oct when 2-wheelers had the top position.
  • Radio Advertising: During the festive season, two advertising media exhibited a steep jump in ad volumes- print advertising and radio advertising. Radio advertising has a clear favorite- “properties/real estate category” ruled over most of the months except June and July when the “car” category placed the maximum number of ads.
  • Digital Advertising: Digital advertising saw a peak during the month of March and October while a steep fall in the month of December. E-commerce and online shopping brands were the top categories for all the months except Jan and March.

3. Does each brand category have a preference for certain advertising media?

Each advertising medium has characteristics and limitations that suit certain brand categories and brand objectives.

Television Advertising

Television is the most accessed media in the country with mass reach and high impact. Television advertising still commands the highest share of the total advertising pie. In terms of cost per reach, television advertising is unbeatable.

The limitation, however, is that without targeting or segregation of audience on the basis of geography or interest or demographics, television advertising might not be the most economic choice for local brands and small brands. Also, the turnaround time is higher and any real-time changes are impossible making it difficult to run short term sales promotions on television.

Hence, mass products like soaps, soft drinks, etc which are everyday usage items without a particular targeting and where demand is not much affected by sales/offers,

Following is the list of top 10 sectors and top 10 brand categories who advertised on Television in 2019 (Source: TAM Reports)

the list of top 10 sectors and top 10 brand categories who advertised on Television in 2019

Newspaper Advertising

A newspaper is the most reliable source of information in Indian households. Needless to say, the newspaper audience is definitely educated enough to read the text and understand, which also gives way to the assumption that the majority of the audience belongs to NCCS A, B, and C.

Newspaper is the oldest medium in India and has played a significant role in major events in the history of the nation. Hence, it’s considered to be one of the most reliable sources of information. Needless to say, products that advertise in Newspapers most are often high-ticket items like an automobile, real estate, education, medical services, Large appliances, jewelry where trust is a major factor.

Newspapers have different editions being published in different cities which makes newspapers an effective advertising platform for local brands. Also, the frequency of newspapers which is daily in most cases makes it apt for brands to run short term sales/ discounts communication. It is quite a common practice for national brands to run campaigns at the brand level on Television while local sales teams run local promotions in newspapers.

Following is the list of top 10 categories and top 10 brands who advertised on Newspaper in 2019 (Source: TAM Reports)

 the list of top 10 categories and top 10 brands who advertised on Newspaper in 2019

Magazine Advertising

Although highly reliable like newspaper, the magazine as a medium varies from the newspaper on 3 aspects:

  • Magazine Genres: Unlike newspapers which usually fall majorly into two genres: Current affairs & General News and Business & Finance and cover recent news, magazines are more niche and cover detailed and well-researched articles. They can be found in various genres from current affairs to fashion and lifestyle, travel to industrial news. This makes magazines perfect for advertising from niche categories and brands.
  • Frequency: Unlike newspapers that are printed daily, magazines can be less frequent ranging from once per week to once per month.
  • National Editions: Unlike newspapers which are mostly printed based on cities, magazine editions are mostly national.

Magazines have higher shelf life than newspapers and their audience mostly belong to NCCS A and B. Since, the magazines come in several genres, their advertising is also quite distributed.

Following is the list of top 10 categories and top 10 brands who advertised on Magazines in 2019 (Source: TAM Reports)

 the list of top 10 categories and top 10 brands who advertised on Magazines in 2019

Radio Advertising

Like a newspaper, radio is also a city-based medium. Radio is particularly popular in big towns and cities dominated by several private radio channels. Not only a source of entertainment, but radio is also a reliable companion for millions who travel to their work every day. The majority of the advertisers on radio stations are local brands or local projects/dealers of national brands. Peak traffic hours are the most preferred advertising time band and the audience comprises working professionals mostly. One of the most prominent categories that rely on the radio the most for advertising is pan masala/zarda/gutkha.

Following is the list of top 10 categories and top 10 brands who advertised on Radio in 2019 (Source: TAM Reports)

the list of top 10 categories and top 10 brands who advertised on Radio in 2019

Digital Advertising

The most promising of all media, digital advertising is growing at an unprecedented rate. Over the last decade, digital has been eating the advertising share from traditional media like newspapers, magazines, television, and radio in the form of websites, news apps, video, and audio OTTs. Some of the features that set digital apart from the traditional media are:

  • Targeting options
  • Real-time control over the ads
  • Easy to calculate ROI

Hence, we can infer digital advertising is suitable for all business types, given that they have their own website which the audience can visit on clicking the ads. Online services like e-commerce depend on digital advertising but some of the traditional categories like BFSI and automobiles have been early adopters.

Following is the list of top 5 categories and top 5 brands who advertised on Digital in 2019 (Source: TAM Reports)

4. What is innovation advertising in newspapers and what are some popular trends in it?

We all know about the common advertising types and positions in newspapers– text-based classified ads, full page, half page, and quarter-page display ads. Innovation ads in newspapers are display advertisements that are unique and different on the basis of aspects like print format, ad positioning, ad layout, print material, etc. They have an element of surprise and are aesthetically stimulating creating a deep impact on the audience’s mind. According to TAM, in the year 2019, brands used 39 types of ad innovations in the newspaper.

Innovation ads in newspaper

Following are some examples of innovation ads (top 5 innovation types):

  • Seamless Jacket
Seamless jacket innovation ad in newspaper
  • Figured Outline
Figured outline innovation ad in newspaper
  • French Window
French Window innovation ad in newspaper
  • Bookmark
Bookmark innovation ad in newspaper
  • Print Format Innovation
Print format innovation ad in newspaper

5. What are some of the most popular newspaper ad positions?

Recapitulating some of the important points from our article Newspaper Advertising: A Guide to Newspaper Display Ad Sizes, these are the prominent display ad positions across all Indian Newspaper publishers:

Popular fixed size newspaper ad sizes

Newspaper display ads can come in different sizes. In this article, we will discuss some of the popular ones. Overall, newspaper display advertisement sizes can be classified in two-

  • Fixed-size newspaper advertisement
  • Custom/variable size newspaper advertisement

Fixed-size Newspaper Advertisements

Following are the fixed sizes for newspaper display ads that are popular among newspaper advertisers:

  • Quarter Page Newspaper Advertisement (16 cm X 25 cm)
  • Half Page Newspaper Advertisement
    • Vertical Half Page Newspaper Advertisement (16 cm X 46 cm)
    • Horizontal Half Page Newspaper Advertisement (~32.9 cm X 25 cm)
  • Full Page Newspaper Advertisement (~32.9 cm X 52 cm)
  • Skybus Newspaper Advertisement (~32.9 cm X 5 cm)
  • Pointer Newspaper Advertisement (4 cm X 5 cm)
  • Jacket Newspaper Advertisement
    • Jacket Front Side: ~32.9 cm width X 48 cm height
    • Jacket Back Side: ~32.9 cm width X 52.5 cm height

Variable-size Newspaper Advertisements

Apart from the popular fixed-sized newspaper ads, there can be a number of options for variable-sized advertisements. They are quite similar to fixed-sized display ads in all other aspects although, there is a lesser control over the placement of variable ads. The prices for these ads are determined in units of square cm.

Following are a few ad dimensions that are high in demand

  • 4 cm (wide) * 5 cm (long)
  • 8 cm (wide) * 8 cm (long)
  • 8 cm (wide) * 12 cm (long)
  • 12 cm (wide) * 20 cm (long)
  • 16 cm (wide) * 20 cm (long)

According to TAM, here are the top 5 newspaper advertisement positions:

the top 5 newspaper advertisement positions
  • Full Page Ads: About 16000+ brands opted for full-page ads during the year 2019 in newspapers and magazines combined. UTI Mutual Funds and Poorvika Mobile World were the top two brands in terms of ad volume.
  • Jacket Full Page: Jackets are extra pages meant to carry advertisements and are placed before the front page. More than 7000 brands used Jacket Full Page ads during the year 2019. Lalithaa Jewellery, Amazon.in and Bajaj Motorcycle Range were the top 3 advertisers to opt for Full page jacket last year.
Jacket newspaper ad
  • Half Page: Horizontal: Horizontal half-page newspaper ads divide the newspaper area into two halves horizontally. Just like quarter size newspaper advertisement, the popular choice of placement for horizontal half-page newspaper ads is the bottom half of the page.
Half page horizontal newspaper ad
  • Solus: Solus refer to newspaper ads that do not appear alongside other newspaper ads. In short, a solus ad is the only ad on a page. The most common and preferred ad placement for solus is the front page.
Solus newspaper ad
  • Strip:Horizontal: Horizontal strip ad is most commonly found at the top of the page. These ads accounted for 2% of total newspaper ads in the year 2019.
Horizontal strip newspaper ad

6. Is print advertising a good option for sales promotion?

According to TAM, all display ads in Print advertising can be categorized in the following buckets on the basis of promotion objective:

  • Brand Promotion: Ads that have the sole purpose of creating brand awareness and do not carry any offer/discount/contest are brand promotion ads.
Brand promotion ad on newspaper
  • Add-on Promotion: Add-on promotion involves bundling an additional item with the main purchase for free.
Add on promotion in newspaper
  • Contest Promotion: Contest promotion involves a contest where the customer gets a chance of winning a big prize through a lucky draw/scratch card.
Contest promotion in newspaper
  • Discount Promotion: Discount promotions either offer the same product at a lesser price or more products at the same price. Effectively, the price per unit of the product is lesser under a discount promotion. One of the popular examples is BOGO- Buy One Get One.
Discount offer in newspaper
  • Exchange Promotion: Under exchange promotion offers, customers can get a new product in exchange for an old product at a lesser price. A most common example of the same would be Mobile phone exchange offers by popular e-commerce brands.
Exchange offer in newspaper
  • Multiple Promotions: Multiple promotions ad contain more than one promotion type.

In terms of promotion objective, there are only two categories: Branding and sales promotions. Branding refers to long term advertising where the objective is to raise awareness about the brand whereas sales promotions aim to make short term sales. Newspapers are apt for the brand as well as sales promotions due to the following reasons:

  • A newspaper is one of the most trusted media in the country hence apt for branding advertising.
  • The newspaper has one of the highest reaches after television hence making it a mass medium.
  • Newspapers have a daily frequency which makes it apt for short term sale promotions.

As per the TAM report for the year 2019, here is a breakup of print ads under different promotion types:

 a breakup of print ads under different promotion types

If we consider magazines only, the percentage of brand promotions is very high, at 84%. This is mostly due to the lesser frequency of magazines.

7. Which magazine genres are the most popular among advertisers?

Unlike newspapers, magazine’s popularity is not limited to current affairs and the general news genre. Magazines are popular across genres and enjoy a niche and loyal set of audience. According to the TAM report on magazines, the following were the top magazine genres in terms of advertising in the year 2019.

the top magazine genres in terms of advertising in the year 2019

Not only this, if one looks at the brand categories, one can see that each business category has it’s a preference when it comes to magazine genres for advertising:

Top magazine genres for ad placement for business category Hospital/clinics and education
Top magazine genres for ad placement for business category publications/books and retail-jewellers
Top magazine genres for ad placement for business category travel/tourism and retail-fashion
Top magazine genres for ad placement for business category spices and readymade garments
Top magazine genres for ad placement for business category OTC products range and watches

Here’s a list of top popular magazines among advertisers in each genre (Source: The Media Ant Traffic Analytics for the year 2019)

Current Affairs & NewsIndia TodayEnglish
Fashion & LifestyleVogueEnglish
Business & ManagementBusiness TodayEnglish
Inflight MagazineHello 6-EEnglish
IT Computer & AnimationSilicon IndiaEnglish
SportsSports IllustratedEnglish
Interior Design & ArchitectureArchitect & InteriorsEnglish
WomenVanitha Malayalam
EntertainmentRolling StoneEnglish

8. Does the performance of magazine advertising differ across regions and languages?

Unlike newspaper which enjoys the same status across the country, magazines have varied performance across the regions in terms of advertising. Following is a chart from the TAM report on ad share among magazines at the national level and those belonging to north, east, west and south zones.

ad share among magazines at the national level and those belonging to north, east, west and south zones

From the image above, we can infer that advertisers prefer national magazines for advertising more than the regional magazines. Magazine advertising is more popular in the southern and western zones than northern and eastern zones. This is probably due to higher literacy rates and better economic conditions in the southern and western regions than in the eastern and northern regions. The top two states in each zone where magazine advertising is popular are:

  • South Zone: Kerala, Tamil Nadu
  • West Zone: Maharashtra, Gujarat
  • East Zone: West Bengal, Assam/NE
  • North Zone: Delhi, Punjab/Chandigarh

When it comes to language, apart from English and Hindi, South Indian languages take the top spot except for Bengali which is popular among advertisers. English magazines account for 50% of the total ad share.

Ad share of magazine language wise

Here’s a list of top popular magazines among advertisers in each language along with their genre  (Source: The Media Ant Traffic Analytics for the year 2019)

EnglishHello 6EInflight
MalayalamVanitha MalayalamWomen
GujaratiGarvi GujaratiCurrent Affairs & News
TamilAnanda VikatanGeneral Interests
KannadaSudhaCurrent Affairs & News
MarathiMarmikCurrent Affairs & News

9. What role does periodicity of magazines play in magazine advertising?

Lesser frequency would mean a longer shelf life while more frequency would mean better control on ads. Most magazines in India work on three frequencies- Weekly, Fortnightly and Monthly. In terms of advertising, there is very little difference in the ad share for all three frequencies (Source: TAM Reports).

Ad share of magazine frequency wise

Here are the top 5 popular magazines among advertisers in each frequency : (Source: The Media Ant Traffic Analytics for the year 2019)

WeeklyIndia TodayCurrent Affairs & NewsEnglish
WeeklyHT BrunchFashion, Lifestyle & JewelleryEnglish
WeeklyThe WeekCurrent Affairs & NewsEnglish
WeeklyOutlookCurrent Affairs & NewsEnglish
WeeklyAnanda VikatanGeneral InterestsTamil
FortnightlyFeminaFashion, Lifestyle & JewelleryEnglish
FortnightlyBusiness TodayBusiness & ManagementEnglish
FortnightlyBusiness WorldBusiness & ManagementEnglish
FortnightlyForbes IndiaBusiness & ManagementEnglish
FortnightlyVanitha MalayalamWomenMalayalam
MonthlyHello 6EInflightEnglish
MonthlyVogueFashion, Lifestyle & JewelleryEnglish
MonthlyCosmopolitanFashion, Lifestyle & JewelleryEnglish
MonthlyElleFashion, Lifestyle & JewelleryEnglish
MonthlySilicon IndiaIT, Computer & AnimationEnglish

10. What are some of the most popular magazine ad positions?

According to TAM Reports, Full page magazine ads dominate magazine advertising as the most common ad position (48% ad share). Following chart details the ad share of various popular magazine ad positions during the year 2019. (Source: TAM Reports)

Ad share of various ad positions in magazine

In this article, we have tried to curate useful insights from various industry reports on advertising in India in 2019. The first part of the article largely covers some relevant questions on advertising in India in 2019 overall and print advertising. In the next installment of the article, we would look at the following:

  • Questions pertaining to the performance of television and digital advertising in 2019.
  • Summary and insights on how this data might help you in planning your ad campaigns in 2020.

In case you would like to know something more about the topics covered or would like to share your feedback, you can write to us at Help@TheMediaAnt.com.

The following are the reports and link that we referred to for data.  


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