Covid 19 s Impact On Digital Marketing Industry-KARAN SHAH

It has now been over a year since we were hit by the covid-19 pandemic and the situations have yet not normalized. As we speak today, we’re dwelling in the second wave of the coronavirus, and lockdowns have revisited us. 

But businesses continue to operate as we’re adapting to the new normal i.e, everything shifting online. When we talk about online, the first thing that comes to mind is digital marketing. Let’s examine how the entire digital landscape has changed since covid with certain statistics and how it has positively impacted the digital marketing industry. 

Digital Ad Spends

India’s total advertising industry was valued at INR 68,475 crores in 2019 and recorded INR 75,952 crores by the end of 2020 despite covid according to a report by Dentsu Aegis Network. That’s a whopping 10.9% growth rate. This goes on to show that even during the pandemic, a lot of money was pumped into advertising, especially the digital channels.

A friend of mine, Rohan Mehta, the CEO of Kinnect (One of Asia’s largest standalone Digital Marketing Agencies) recounted that the pandemic accelerated their digital adoption, and over 80% spends on digital was driven by businesses looking at rewiring their operating models for the new normal.

The Internet Wave

The number of mobile phone internet users in India had summed up to 420.7 million in 2019, climbing to 448.2 million in 2020 as per Statista, and is expected to cross the 500 million mark by 2023!

This portrays that the number of people on the Internet is rising and people are becoming tech-savvy. The takeaway here is that the maximum number of potential consumers are present online, especially since covid-19. People had nowhere to go and hence started consuming content over the Internet more than ever before. 

This consequently led to an increase in the consumption of data. Back in 2016, when a user consumed approximately 500MB to 1GB monthly data, now an average user is calculated to use around 13.5GB of monthly 4G data by December 2020. This figure further rose by 20% as more and more people subscribed to different platforms for video consumption as well other dependencies on the Internet. 

In fact, we’re soon to witness the arrival of 5G in India. One of the biggest reasons being that a higher number of people are adapting to the Work From Home culture. Thus, India needs a 5G connection to better sustain our dependence on the Internet and carry out business processes seamlessly.

These were just some of the stats that prove the rise of digitalization due to covid. Now let’s look at a few significant perspectives which shed light on the impact of Covid on the digital marketing industry. 

Surge in Corporate Trainings

Another compelling change witnessed during the pandemic was the need for small and large businesses to digitally transform their mode of operation, especially on the marketing front.

Through corporate training verticals, companies like Cipla and Volkswagen up-skilled in various facets of digital marketing and lead nurturing. On the other hand, Pfizer and Godrej Professional chose to empower their influencers, ie. doctors and hair stylists through the right digital skills.

The need for corporate training in digital marketing has been increasing since 2020 because every company wants their employees to be in line with digital marketing as it has emerged as one of the most important elements in Marketing. Slowly but surely the entire ecosystem of businesses, influencers, and end consumers are now all warmed up to the new normal.

On the Education front

Even undergraduate and graduate students are looking for digital marketing courses because they have noticed that the scope of digital marketing in India is very bright and promising and the career opportunities are notable. 

Here’s a stat to put things in perspective – the search volume per month for ‘digital marketing courses’ was nearly 60,500 in the month of May 2019 and it experienced a massive growth rate of 49.5%, which means 90,500 searches for it in May 2020, when we were at the peak of the pandemic. And these searches continue to grow while you’re reading this!

Thus from the sight of stakeholders and learners, the impact of covid on digital marketing has been an upward trend. Let’s now see how the behavior of a consumer has evolved due to covid. 

Evolution in Consumer’s Behaviour 

The overall consumer behavior has drastically changed. Consumers are preferring online shopping for almost everything because of the ease it offers and the safety of their health remains intact. The Indian E-commerce industry is growing exponentially and is expected to become the second-largest E-commerce market by 2034. 

With nothing much to do during the lockdown, people started using social media as an escape. Instagram recorded a massive 1 Billion monthly active users in the year 2020. The growth of Instagram has been shocking. At one point where it was used to only share photographs and videos, it has now become a huge potential market for organizations. Businesses are cashing in on Instagram marketing as the potential reach is recorded at 928.5 million people. 

Many online businesses have emerged since Instagram took off and are running successfully today. People are ditching the brick-and-mortar models for online businesses. 

Akira Mitsumasu, the VP of Global Marketing of Japan Airlines mentioned how their digital marketing strategy shifted to doing less programmatic and more around getting out information to help travelers, using social media to generate positive social norms and sharing the brand’s POV, & gaining insights on how consumer sentiments and needs are changing and using them to repurpose their activities to meet customer needs.

Influencer Marketing

If you’re an active user of social media, you must’ve come across the term ‘Influencers’.

Influencers are people who have the ability to influence the purchasing decisions of consumers because of their position, knowledge, and engagement that they have with their audience. These are pretty much the reasons why marketers love Influencers.

Influencers have enabled businesses to bridge the gap between them and their potential target audiences. Influencer marketing has brought in commendable leads for companies at comparatively lesser costs. 

Avinash Janjire, the Marketing Head of Thomas Cook narrated to me that since people couldn’t travel any longer due to Covid, they shifted their resources towards Push Marketing and Influencer Marketing through social media which helped them connect with their audience and in order to gain from it in the long run. They incorporated a transition from search marketing to social media marketing.

Takeover by OTT Platforms

Another noteworthy impact of covid-19 has been the growth of OTT platforms which is set down to be one of the fastest-growing markets in India. The lockdown has accelerated the consumption on the OTT platforms from almost 181 billion minutes to 204 billion minutes in the last 1 year.

All of this strongly suggests that the impact of covid-19 on the digital marketing industry has been tremendously motivating. It has opened up new opportunities for businesses and has helped businesses overcome the obstacles and re-establish themselves. 

Moreover, it has allowed businesses, small or large, to connect with their audiences and cater to their needs despite not coming in contact with them directly.

Karan Shah is the Founder and CEO of the Indian Institute of Digital Education (IIDE) – an organization rolling out best-in-class Digital Marketing training.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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