Advertising for education brands in the times of COVID-19


PlatformsWhy Advertise?Popular Media
Digital OTT Platforms1. Young audience
2. Advanced Targeting Options
3. High engagement rate during COVID-19
Hotstar, Jio Saavn, Gaana, Voot, Zee5
User-generated Video Platform1. Young audience
2. Advanced targeting options
3. Increase in downloads & time spent during COVID-19
YouTube, TikTok
Digital News Platforms1. Spike in usage during COVID-19
2. Shift from traditional news medium to digital
Inshorts, Daily Hunt,
Digital platforms of newspapers-
TOI, The Hindu, Hindustan Times
Mobile Gaming Platforms1. Young audience
2. Increase in downloads & time spent during COVID-19
Ludo King, Pokkt, PUBG
Social Media1. Young Audience
2. Time spent as high as 4 hours
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter
Influencer Advertising1. Young Audience
2. Emotional & mental support from influencers during COVID-19 in the form of DIY videos, self-help talks, etc
Education influencers
Television1. Watched by the entire family together
2. Mass media
3. Increase in time spent during COVID-19 by ~50%
Star Plus, DD National, Colors, Sun TV, Aaj Tak

The year 2020 commenced with a global threat in the form of COVID-19. Since then, the world has not remained the same. The highly contagious virus has paralyzed almost all countries on the earth and has adversely impacted global trade and travel. Like several other countries, India too has opted for a complete lockdown a month back and soon the country would be relaxing the restrictions.

As a media agency, the questions we often face are-

  • What was the effect of the lockdown on media consumption?
  • How would the media consumption change after the lockdown and the next 3-4 months?
  • Would it be a good idea to advertise now?
  • What advertising platforms would be the best for my product/product category?

Our last article, “Advertising After Lockdown: Where Would Advertisers’ Money Go?”, talked about the media consumption trends in the weeks following lockdown. In this article, we would discuss the impact of lockdown on the demand for education that includes both short term online courses as well as long term residential courses. It would be based on the insights we have gathered from reports from various industry leaders like Kantar, BCG, WPP etc. We would also cover the best advertising platforms for education brands in the current scenario based on our experience and TMA traffic analysis.

Covid-19 Lockdown- effect on the education sector

On one hand we can say that the offline education sector has been affected severely as all educational institutions including schools and colleges have been shut down and are not expected to open soon. However, on the other hand, online learning has seen a steep rise in terms of demand. According to a report by Gipsi, there has been a jump of 220% in online queries around online education.

Search for online education jumped by 220% during the lockdown
Source: Report by Gipsi: India’s habits are changing- Decoding the new Indian consumer

The lockdown has definitely brought a change in people’s perception about education and brought a major shift in the mode of learning, with many people exploring the convenience of online education. As they form a habit and build trust towards these platforms, online education would remain in demand in future too.

Apart from this, there would be some unpleasant side effects of COVID-19 and lockdown in India and other countries that would shape the demand for short-term as well as long-term educational courses in India:

1.High unemployment rates: With COVID-19 and lockdown adversely affecting the economy, most companies have faced major losses. In an attempt to cut costs and reduce expenditure, companies are opting for drastic steps like laying off and postponing hiring new employees, bringing the overall sentiments down. This would encourage many young employees to go for higher education and delay their entry into to workforce by a couple of years when the market situation is better.

2.Demand for skills: In a highly competitive near future, the pressure on the existing staff to multitask as well as employees to skill themselves for new jobs would push them to join short term online and offline courses.

3. Decline of students visiting abroad for education: India is the second largest country in terms of sending students to foreign universities. With COVID-19 being a major threat across the world this year, a number of students would avoid going abroad hence opting for long term education courses in India only.

All in all, this year is going to be a good one for education sector.

Is it a good time to advertise?

While the world is going through a crisis, several brands are wondering if it is a good time to advertise. The lockdown has definitely led to a number of businesses face losses and worried about revenue generation in the next few months. Apart from that, a number of brands are worried about consumer sentiments around advertising during COVID-19. They fear if it would portray their brand as selfish and insensitive and money-minded.

Well, all these concerns are valid but there’s a silver lining. According to a survey by Kantar, only 8% people said that brands should stop advertising.

Should I advertise during COVID 19
Source: Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research

Also, one of the major reasons that advertising during lockdown has become very important is the way lockdown has been implemented in India. We are in the third phase of lockdown right now and businesses are opening up in phases. Many people are still home and might not be aware of the fact that you are open for business. This gives advertisers another valid reason to promote their brand.

The communication part also plays a more important role now than before. Instead of competing with one another, brands now have to combat the negative consumer sentiments. By advertising, brands can now communicate with the consumers, build trust and spread a positive message. Following is a screenshot from a report by Kantar which talks about a consumer survey where people have expressed their opinion about advertisement creative.

What type of advertising should brands do during COVID 19
Source: Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research

When it comes to education, consumers are more than willing to loosen their purse strings. Following is a screenshot of a survey conducted by BCG asking people about their spend behavior in the next six months and about 61% people said that they are going to spend more and lot more in education.

Where are consumers going to spend more after lockdown
BCG report: BCG COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey India

Aren’t these reasons exciting enough to consider advertising? Now the next and the most important question that needs to be answered is: which platforms should the brands consider for advertising?

The best advertising platforms for education brands post lockdown

While we have seen education brands’ love for newspapers, in-flight magazines and radio when it comes to advertising, the situation right now demands them to look beyond these traditional routes. The lockdown which has spanned more than a month had a severe effect on advertising platforms as well. With travel and people’s movement being restricted, outdoor advertising had no takers. With no shooting happening, television and video platforms faced lack of fresh content. Newspaper distribution in several containment zones witnessed irregularity and due to people not commuting to work, radio also lost some listenership.

In our last article, we discussed the expected timeline of ad platforms bouncing back to life after the lockdown is over. Here’s a snapshot from the article which talks about which ad platforms would be the first to recover from the adverse effects of lockdown:

Digital-Online News
Tech Parks

Let’s see why the above mentioned ad platforms would be the best in the current situation. A survey by Kantar revealed that more than 50% people are willing to stay home in the coming months and spend more time consuming content online.

Where  are people spending time during COVID 19
Source: Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research

The ad platforms that education brands should focus on for the next 2-3 months are:

Digital OTT platforms

Digital OTT platforms are the best ones to target young audiences. Not only are they early adopters of digital, but they are also the primary audience for on-demand entertainment. With a hectic schedule full of classes and self-study schedule, students often depend on OTT platforms for consuming video and audio content.

During the lockdown, OTT platforms witnessed an increase in average time spent by 31%. 

Our top pages for advertising on OTT platforms are:

User-generated Video Platforms

User-generated video platforms offer snackable content that is not time taking, is addictive, and aspirational and do not require active attention. While the long-format video platforms struggled for content during the lockdown, these platforms were flooded by content generated by users sitting at home- from celebrities to influencers to commoners. Most popular among these were DIY (Do It Yourself) videos related to cooking, exercises, and yoga, mask making, craft making, etc.

Tik Tok was one of the top downloaded app during the lockdown while YouTube saw a 20% increase in subscriber base in the 1st quarter of 2020 driven by people of age 18-34 years.

Our top pages for advertising on user generated video platforms are

Digital News platforms

Digital news platforms are a few of the most visited platforms by students as they are mostly free of cost and help them prepare for competitive exams. With new developments taking place every single day, news on television and online platforms has become a significant part of content consumption. With fake news doing rounds on social media, people are dependent on established and popular news brands when it comes to fact-checking. This has made digital news consumption popular for real-time information.

According to a Comscore report, in the last week of March, visits to popular online news platforms increased by 97% as compared to six weeks before. 

Our top pages for advertising on digital news platforms are:

Mobile gaming platforms

Mobile games are one of the top downloaded genres in the country, especially for people in the age group of 18-30. The engagement rates of advertisements on mobile gaming platforms are high because most of the games offer some reward to the audience in lieu of watching the ads. This makes mobile gaming platforms apt for education brand ads.

As per the report by BARC + Nielsen, time spent per user per week on the mobile gaming platforms during lockdown has increased by 47%. Ludo King has emerged as one of the top 5 downloaded apps during the lockdown period. 

Our top pages for advertising on mobile gaming platforms:

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms do not need to be introduced as the younger generation’s best friend. For networking to chatting to sharing information on groups to keeping themselves updated with the latest news, social media platforms have become a companion for people. In terms of advertising social media platforms have a variety of ad formats from images to video to messages to influencer content to target the audience.

During the lockdown, average time spent on social media platforms increased by 87% to 4 hours a day. 

Our top pages for advertising on social media platforms:

Influencer Advertising

Indian youth is full of aspirations. Apart from film stars, celebrities and cricketers, there are a number of influencers who have rose from common public to become a role model for others. These influencers have played an active role during the lockdown period by connecting to people through live videos, DIY tutorials etc. In our opinion, influencer advertising is going to be one of the most important medium to build trust among the audience.

Our top pages for influencer advertising are:


While the digital advertising options attract young target audience, advertising on television is the best choice for running brand awareness campaigns to attract parents and students together. 95% of television homes in India are single TV home which means watching television is a family activity. With people forced to stay home for longer period, television has emerged as the favorite entertainment medium for the entire family.

During the lockdown, TV viewership has increased by ~50%. Though most channels except news channels are running old content, TV viewership is still on rise. A number of channels have offered advertising discounts too.

Our top pages for advertising on television are:

To get a better idea of how The Media Ant can help you with advertising during this time, checkout our campaign execution for Unacademy where we used the power of digital to attract the young minds across genres and platforms.

In case you have some questions or would like to know more about advertising after lockdown, write to us at

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