Demonetization, RERA and GST hit ad spends; industry experts say Adex growth to be at least 2% lower than the rate predicted at the start of the year. However, the market rides on the optimism that it will now recover
Demonetization, RERA and GST hit ad spends; industry experts say Adex growth to be at least 2% lower than the rate predicted at the start of the year. However, the market rides on the optimism that it will now recover
By TEAM IMPACT
The high momentum that the advertising industry had been witnessing in the recent past - the Pitch Madison Advertising Outlook 2017 predicted 13.5% growth - hit a stumbling block in November 2016 when the Government stumped the country with demonetization. As the industry was reeling from the effects of demonetization, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) struck the industry again and in the words of a senior industry expert, ‘decimated the growth of the advertising, marketing and media industry’. Another industry veteran said these moves set back the growth of the industry by almost a year.
On October 4, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) slashed its economic growth projection for 2017-18 from 7.3% to 6.7%, just before Diwali, which is one season that sees a lot of spending, both from consumers and clients. So at a time when the country is witnessing lower economic growth, will the festive season help bring some cheer to a subdued market or will it be difficult to meet the losses the industry faced as a result of the Government’s moves?
Looking at how the festive season has panned out so far, most experts are positive as they believe that the worst is behind them and things will only pick up from here. However, considering the festival season came almost a month early this year, a lot will also depend on whether the months following Diwali sustain the performance of the festive season.
While many industry experts say that it is difficult to predict what’s going to happen, all eyes are currently on Diwali ad spends. In this scenario, it will only be possible to gauge the economic sentiments in November. However, historically, the period following Diwali witnesses a lull for advertising coming on the back of high ad spends in the preceding months. December is again an important advertising period for automobile and consumer durable companies, which sees a bump in advertising as they look to clear old stocks.
AROUND 10% GROWTH THIS YEAR, SAY MEDIA PLANNERS
Earlier in the year, media agencies had come up with their growth predictions for the year. While GroupM’s ‘This Year Next Year’ 2017 report had estimated the AdEx growth to be around 10% for the year, Dentsu Aegis Network had quoted the figure at around 12.9%, and the Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2017 had predicted around 13.5%. However, with the slump that was brought about by demonetization, and later by the imposition GST, it remains to be seen where the year will end.
At this time, media planners are pegging this year’s growth to be around 10%, with CVL Srinivas, CEO, South Asia GroupM believing this could be the lowest growth in the last five years. He says, “Our annual TYNY report projected the (adex) growth of 10% for India. We’ve had a pretty bumpy year with the lingering overhang of the previous year in terms of sluggishness of economy due to demonetization and the impact of GST. We have had a couple of good months, and the IPL in April was a sell-out. We are hoping that the festive season will bring some cheer and are looking at double digit growth in the next few weeks over the previous period. We should end the year at close to 10% growth which is the lowest growth in the last five years.”
While DAN had estimated the year to grow at 12.9%, it later recalibrated this figure to between 10-12% this year. Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) is hopeful that the festive season will help brighten up an otherwise subdued year. “We expect the festive season to be good and expect around 15-20% growth over last year when the festive season was curtailed due to the impact of demonetization. Overall, since we are seeing an upside during the festive season, we will have between 10-12% growth in 2017. While it is a bit lower than what we had predicted, it’s better than the first half of the year. A lot is riding on the festive season and the real test of that will be the post-Diwali period. October will be good because of Diwali.”
The festive season saw an early start this year. Diwali, which normally falls during November, has come almost a month earlier, which crunched the duration of ad spends. The other factor that has impacted spends is that smaller advertisers have cut spends as many weren’t GST compliant. According to Debraj Tripathy, Managing Director, MediaCom, “The first half of the year has been slow. I don’t think the intensity has been what we expected it to be. Festive will certainly be better, how much better is still not clear. The problem is that, Diwali has come early, which means we have a smaller window for advertising to be able to spike in that period. But, overall yes, there will be a spike. We were hoping for a 10% growth overall, but the first half of the year has not been great. If you look at the marketing conditions right now, you will find that the smaller companies are still not GST ready. A couple of years ago, e-commerce was huge, this year it will be auto.”
Nandini Dias, CEO of Lodestar UM India says, “The period after November 2016 and the first six months of the year have been tough. Things are slowly picking up now. However, the early Diwali has put us at a slight disadvantage as we haven’t got time to recover. But I am sure we will end the year slightly lower than last year but expect next year to be much better. At the start of the year, we estimated industry growth to be about 13% but as of now it looks like it will end at around 10.5-11%.”
Madison World is yet to come out with a detailed analysis of how the year will pan out post festive season. Sam Balsara, Chairman and MD of Madison World says, “It does seem today that it might be a little difficult to reach the growth predicted earlier.”
Despite the obvious effects of both demonetization and GST, the industry on the whole is looking at the next few months with a lot of positivity. People are hoping that the industry will look up from this point. Amin Lakhani, ?Leader, South Asia, Team Unilever, Mindshare says, “We had estimated Adex to grow at a lower pace than the last few years. CAGR growth of industry over last 3-4 years has been 12% but this year we had factored in demonetization, GST, etc. and predicted 10%. But these things are now history and the industry should look ahead. We are seeing recovery though it is slower than expected.”
DIGITAL BUCKS THE TREND
A medium that bucked the trend in an otherwise difficult year was Digital and it will continue to be the fastest growing medium. As per Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Mogae Media, “Digital is growing primarily because there are new people coming into play. Jio and the increased penetration and access to internet and data have led to increased number of devices, mobile subscribers and therefore more consumption. Digital will still grow at 25% year-on-year for at least the next three to five years.”
Thought there was a brief lull post demonetization, the start of the financial year set things on track and there hasn’t been a drastic impact on overall Digital ad spends. Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult says, “GST has impacted the financial processes such as invoicing and payments, but hasn’t dampened the spirits of advertisers. The festive season spends so far have been promising and if the same run continues, we can expect to close the year on a positive note too. There is a prediction of an economy slowdown, but on the ground level we haven’t experienced any radical drop in digital ad spends.”
TELEVISION: THE INVENTORY DILEMMA
While Digital did not get hit hard, the Television industry witnessed an evident slowdown. Despite the month of April being a good month, thanks to IPL, the impact of GST started to kick in a month prior to its implementation, in June. Industry experts said that nobody had expected the extended impact that GST would have on the industry with some stating that the impact of GST was worse than demonetization. A senior industry person who did not wish to be named said that many genres struggled to fill in their inventories with even big ticket shows being unable to sell out. According to Joy Chakraborthy - CEO Forbes India & President - Revenue, TV18 Broadcast Pvt. Ltd., “Last year, demonetization happened in November, and the entire industry saw a slowdown from November-March. Hopefully, this year will be different and the second half would be stronger than last year and we might finally get to see some growth. However, it’s still too early to predict the numbers as things will only become clear post Diwali.”
Many also feel that a highly buoyant Diwali could have helped the industry overcome some of the losses; however, the festive season this year has been lukewarm. Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer, 9X Media, says, “The festive season hasn’t been very big because the overall economy is not doing very well. The sales for some categories picked up between August and October. In September, sales in the auto sector picked up. However, the main problem is not the sales figures or whether companies are doing well or not, it is the lack of positive market sentiments. People are cautious about spending. Also, GST has impacted the entire block and supply chain. Even FMCG, which was one of the biggest contributors to the growth, has slowed down in the last two quarters.
MK Anand, MD & CEO, Times Network concurs with Jailkhani on the reduced FMCG spends. He said, “The first six months have been flat as demonetization impact still lingers, and then came the RERA and GST effect. So, in this situation if you have been on par with last year’s numbers, it’s great and second half - H2, I guarantee we will all grow by 15-20% because last year’s base is low. If that correction happens, it will give us about 8% growth. The real problem from our point of view is FMCG and the fact that the Mumbai market has been sluggish and has not delivered. In comparison, Delhi, Bangalore and India 2 (rest of India) is doing well.”
For Rohit Gupta, President, Network Sales and International Business, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), a worrying factor is that the duration of festive campaigns have decreased over the last few years. He explains, “Diwali campaigns used to be for at least six to eight weeks but over the last two years, we have seen the time period come down. Now, virtually it’s a four-week Diwali and that is a bit worrying from an industry perspective. It’s getting crunched and brands are not willing to spend too much during the festive period. That’s the big change seen in the last few years where Diwali is now a four-week activity.”
Manav Dhanda, CEO, SAB Group says, “We need to look at two things –the width (duration) and the depth (impact). In June-July, the depth was far more than anyone could have predicted. The inventory-fill levels in some top GECs, close to 50%, was by a major FMCG advertiser; this only happens when GECs can’t fill their inventory. Then niche channels get hit very badly. This has never happened before in my observation of the media industry in last couple of decades. The depth was certainly worse than what has been foreseen. As for width, we will only know in six to eight weeks’ time.”
PRINT: A TRIPLE WHAMMY
Among all the sectors, the medium that got hit the hardest by RERA was Print. In 2016, the realty sector contributed 6% to the overall Print Adex which in numbers translated to Rs 1,115 crore as per PMAR 2017. This meant that RERA dealt a blow to Print players and coupled with demonetization and GST, it ‘decimated’ the sector, as per a senior player.
Says Sudha Natarajan, Director, Response, Bennett Coleman & Co Limited (BCCL), “The advertising industry will struggle to grow in double digits, and will end up at a number closer to 10%, probably, even just a high single digit figure. While GST had a huge impact on advertising from various categories, especially FMCGs, Consumer Durables, RERA, had a crippling effect on the real estate advertising across the country. This impacted Print revenues more than any other mediums. While April and May were good months, the June-August quarter was extremely challenging on growth. The festive season looks promising, revenues till date look good, and we hope it will end on a reasonably good note.”
Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO, Sakal Media Group, feels that the Print industry will have a tough time in meeting the growth expectations of between 10-14% projected earlier in the year. “The projections were made when the economy was just starting to recover from demonetization, giving everyone a low base and hence reasonable expectations of growth on the back of better compliance and hence tax accrual to the Government and consequent spends. At that time, the impact of GST and other regulatory actions such as RERA was not factored into the calculations. The overall economy and the tepid GDP growth scenario impacting into spends by major advertisers have been less than encouraging.” Dwivedi continues, “While there has been some upswing on account of the festive season in specific categories like mobile, consumer electronics, e-commerce, retail & lifestyle, it has not been dramatic in terms of the total scope of investment. However, there are still a few weeks of festive season left and another five months to go thereafter, and any improvement in aggregate consumer sentiment will augur well for the industry.”
Looking ahead, direct activation and consumer engagement initiatives and events could be key focus areas for publishers to offset the revenue challenge on ad-sales, if the consumer sentiment does not improve. On an optimistic note, Ranjeet Kate, CEO, Vijay Karnataka says, “Meeting projected growth rates in 2017 might be challenging due to once-in-a-lifetime policies like demonetization and GST. However, a few strong players like Vijay Karnataka are clocking better than industry growth rates. Some shift in ad spends will happen because the festivals are being celebrated earlier this year. However, over a 12-month period, it would balance out.”
Meanwhile, many are looking forward to the Government giving a push to the economy to make sure that the industry gets over some of the losses. Mitrajit Bhattacharya, President and Publisher, Chitralekha Group, says, “The festive season coming early hasn't helped at all with implementation of GST still troubling many categories. The informal sector is affected even more. Private investments are next to nothing. Exports are badly affected. It now depends on whether the Government comes up with some stimulus for the economy. Otherwise, we are headed for a long-term slowdown.”
The magazine industry is trying to gauge the impact, but is hopeful that the next few months might help overcome the lull in the business. Indranil Roy, Chief Executive Officer, Outlook Group says, “I won’t be able to speak for the industry but it looks to me that it’s going to be a flat year. Signs are yet weak but we are all hoping that the economy will pick up in the next six months and we will see a positive trajectory.”
According to media veteran MV Shreyams Kumar, Joint Managing Director, Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing, the industry will grow in line with the estimates and the Print industry is poised for a moderate growth and will continue to be the second highest contributor after TV to the total advertising pie. “From a regional perspective, the Kerala advertising industry has noticed an increase of 10% growth which is a positive thing and expected to continue. As we have a clear picture about the market positioning post GST, it will help companies optimize their sales to reach their revenue targets planned for the financial year. This in turn will benefit media ad spends in reaching their projected growth. It is a win-win situation and we expect ad growth to be steady for the coming months across media verticals. However, we still have to see whether Diwali will add glitter to the ad market,” he says.
RADIO: MUTED GROWTH
For the Radio industry, the growth in the first half of the year was muted, owing to the after-effects of demonetization, RERA, GST implementation and the drop in consumer spends. However, the month of September has brought about a surge in the volume growth of Radio advertising. With expectations of a Government stimulus in the offing, it is expected that the effects of GST will stabilize in the coming months.
Abraham Thomas, CEO, Radio City says, “Yes, the Radio industry too faced the ripple effects of various policies such as demonetization, RERA and GST during the first half of 2017. It had an immediate short-term effect on the industry. We are witnessing early signs of recovery and we are bullish about the long-term benefits of the new regulations. The policy stabilization clubbed with the onset of the festive season should result in an upsurge in advertising spends and we expect the upward trend to continue in the coming months.”
While most players believe that an early Diwali curtailed spends, Nisha Narayanan, COO, 93.5, Red FM has a contrarian view. She says, “The early festive season was a blessing as it has helped to pep up the mood which was low due to demonetization and GST. Looking ahead, between November and March, we do see more stability as businesses will get a grip on the markets. We will also be able to utilize time to do on-ground and other activities. We are also in the final stages of adding new stations to the network, which will be keeping us busy and markets abuzz about RED network.”
However, the going has been tough for regional players as major advertisers have withheld spends. Says Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Managing Director, Sambad Group, “The ad spends this year have been bad. The electronic majors, including LG, have cut spends. September has been touch-and-go and it’s been a tense situation for the sales team. However, the ad spends have picked up in the last few days. Last year, Diwali and the festive season were excellent, but we can’t say the same for this year. I am still not convinced how Diwali will pan out this year and can’t say if and when the sentiment will turn around.”
EXPERIENTIAL: TIME FOR CONSOLIDATION
In the experiential marketing space, Sameer Tobaccowala, CEO, Shobiz Experiential Communications has a positive outlook towards the Government’s moves and considers them to be a micro blip on the market scenario. “Overall, the year has been one of consolidation and laying a firm foundation. The enthusiasm and impetus of a few years ago is distinctly missing, and has been replaced with a market sentiment that is more circumspect. While the prevailing climate may have been affected by regulatory actions like demonetization and GST, the more discerning clients have a longer-term perspective. Conversations that revolved around quarterly plans have now shifted focus to larger strategic objectives. This festive season will bear testimony to the fact that both demonetization and GST are relatively minor factors in impacting consumption trends. We have already seen car manufacturers report increased sales ranging from 10-20% during the Dassera-Navratri season. I am confident that 2017-18 will be a solid year for the industry at large.”
Giving the whole economic disruption in the country a positive spin, Sabbas Joseph, Founder-Director, Wizcraft International says, “Anything that affects the financial world must affect everybody. We have had a similar kind of impact. The experiential business has had to work that much harder. It has opened up new vistas for marketers. With their backs against the wall, in many ways marketers have gone for disruptive projects and clutter-breaking ideas which are more in the experience space than traditional advertising. In some ways, the experiential business has benefitted from the economic disruption that has taken place in the country. It has made marketers want more in less money. And those answers have come from events, Digital, from other options which are new, emerging, clutter-breaking ideas. Those who pursue differentiated thought-process have benefited from the financial disruption. Those who stayed on the beaten path are struggling and will continue to struggle.”
HOW MUCH ARE ADVERTISERS SPENDING THIS FESTIVE SEASON?
CEO, Patanjali Ayurved
“These big MNCs prepare for the festive season much in advance, splurging on it. We are slightly different from them, our products sell more though our ad spends are much lower than them. For us, marketing efforts are a yearlong activity. Our spends of late have been focused on Digital. In fact, we are coming up with something huge on the e-commerce platform mostly before the end of the festive season.”
“We are spending more than last year. This time, all indicators are very positive, be it macro-economics or consumer sentiment. We have seen that in Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam, Durga Puja, Navratri and now we are getting into Diwali. So, it’s definitely a strong consumer sentiment. We have come out with our foot forward very strongly in this festival season and are very visible, across all platforms and categories.”
Head - Brand & Marketing Communications, Panasonic India
“We launched the ‘So much to do’ campaign for our mobile phones just ahead of the festive season and in the three months, we are spending close to Rs 100 crore. It is advertising including BTL promotions. If I talk about only ATL, all the categories put together, i.e., washing machines, televisions and mobiles, it’s going to be in the range of Rs 85-90 crore.”
Head - Marketing, Uber India
“We don’t spend in a big way on any festival because demand is anyway the same, you won’t travel 2-3 times a day just because it is festive season. This season is more about building engagement for us. So you will see campaigns like Uber Journeys. We are not offering discounts but have surprises for our riders. For example, Garba is huge in Ahmedabad so there will be a surprise offer when you take a ride to the nearest Garba location.”
EVP, Sales and Marketing, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd
“In the festive season, we will be spending around Rs 12 crore in three-and-a-half months (August onwards). It is 30% higher than what we spent in the same period in 2016. Overall, Suzuki as a brand has registered record sales between April to August. So, our overall spends have also increased proportionately. GST has not impacted us at all.”
President Haier Appliances India
“We are very optimistic and expect good sales. With an integrated marketing approach, this time we have increased our marketing spends by almost 70% across all mediums and are investing heavily in ATL, BTL as well as digital platforms. We’re looking at 50% growth this festive season. We also recorded good sales this year in Kerala during Onam with 48% growth.”
Chief Marketing Officer, Go-MMT Group
“We have a high decibel multimedia campaign tapping the festive season. This season is the time where there is high propensity to travel, so we focus on the reasons we can provide to customers to be able to enable their travel booking. However, we don’t earmark any amount for festive marketing; if a certain campaign warrants a particular investment, we are willing to put it in and no, it has not been affected by GST in any way.”
Head of Sales, Sony India
“Our festive campaign ‘Respect every colour’ will be live up to October 19. We plan to invest Rs 250 crore towards our marketing activities and are aiming to achieve 25% sales growth from August to November 2017 vis-à-vis the same period last year. We believe introduction of GST will improve the efficiency of business operations. We are still in the process of analysing the impact of GST.”
Director- Marketing (Chocolates), Mondelez India
“There is a large segment of consumers whose consumption is driven by occasions. We try to develop offerings that help increase relevance of our products in the consumer’s life in those moments. Our communication enhances the consumer’s expression for the occasion. While this approach has helped us create conversations on social media with the help of various campaigns, we have also managed to successfully up consumption year-on-year.”
Head, Brand & Retention Marketing, Pepperfry
“We recently launched a new marketing campaign ahead of Diwali. It is focused on the value that Pepperfry is delivering for consumers this year via the ‘Happy Diwali Sale’. The campaign is promoted across a bouquet of English Entertainment, Movies, English Infotainment, and select Hindi HD/SD channels/properties. It will be supported by Outdoor and Radio in key cities. The total outlay for the campaign is Rs 15 crore."
SVP & Chief of Brand & Corporate Communication, SBI Life
"This year’s festive campaign is in the form of a connect initiative, which seeks to celebrate the unique festival of the region to bond with the audience through music. The campaign connects with audiences through jingles by well-known singers. Most advertising agencies are having a decent year. The IPL season was a sell-out. The festive season must have brought cheer as most are looking at double-digit growth. "
VP (Marketing), Commuter Motorcycles, Scooters & Corporate Brand, TVS Motor Company
"Today, macro-economic enablers are looking up, boding well for the festive season. We have refreshed our entire portfolio of products. TVS Jupiter, India’s No. 2 scooter brand, now also offers a TVS Jupiter Classic version. The iconic TVS Zest 110 also boasts of a new Matte series. We have created a slew of targeted marketing campaigns to maximise impact in the festive season."
General Manager, OnePlus India
“As the business has grown, our marketing spends have increased too this year. Last year, we launched the Diwali Dash campaign for OnePlus community and we are really excited to bring it again this festival season. GST has not made any impact as our budgets are reasonable compared to industry standards. The smartphone industry is likely to grow by 10-15% as per industry estimates and the overall industry spends on advertising may also grow proportionally.”
CMO, Marico Limited
“A lot of new consumers interact with the brand during Navratri and Diwali; therefore we step up our marketing initiatives at this time. To generate engagement with on-ground activations, create festive content with influencers like bloggers and stylists, and take up large scale sampling are focus areas. All this is amplified digitally to maximize reach, have consumers share their experiences and build positive word of mouth and a positive ecosystem for the brand.”
Category Head - Indulgence, ?Britannia Industries Limited
“My sense of the micro-economy is that the worst is behind us. We will go back to the healthy returns that we were seeing in the last couple of years. They will only increase because now we have created a framework for the economy that will stand the test of time. Certain brands are skewed towards festivals, and I’m sure they will splurge. Our brands can be consumed throughout the year, so we don’t skew our investments during the festive season.”
VP-Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India
“We have been lucky as we haven’t been affected too much by either demonetization or GST. We planned much in advance. Having said that, people have been holding back their purchases and that should not happen during the festive season. I hope that augurs well for the country.”
Head Marketing, Mattel India
“Increasing ad spends during the festive season really results in competition with the larger brands that have bigger budgets. In the toy category in India, we do not have an approach similar to the West that associates toy shopping with festivals like Thanksgiving. So Mattel’s approach for the festive season is to encourage parents to view festivals like Diwali as an occasion to gift their kids a new toy. Our festive spends will largely be devoted to in-store activations and promotions.”
OOH: WAIT AND WATCH MODE
According to PMAR, the OOH industry was expected to grow by 11% this year. Pramod Bhandula, MD, JCDecaux feels that achieving that level of growth might be challenging, but things might look up after the festive season. “Industry growth by 11% is questionable right now but with the last quarter looking up, it may reach up to its numbers. Major impacts from uncertainties and low sentiments due to changes like GST and demonetization, the industry has gone into a wait ‘n’ watch mode, resulting in a standstill. The impact of this gets reflected in the latest RBI report on GDP growth,” he says.
CINEMA: BANKING ON BIG TICKET RELEASES
As per PMAR, Cinema was projected to grow by 15% in 2017, the second fastest growing medium after Digital, taking the total Cinema Advertising revenue to Rs 600 crore. GroupM’s ‘This Year Next Year’ (TYNY) 2017 report, predicted Cinema to grow at a high double digit rate of 20%. These growth numbers were estimated on the back of Cinema consolidation, which led to investments in infrastructure and growth of multiplexes in smaller cities and towns. Looking at the festive season, what helps the sector is that every year, studios plan the release of big budget blockbusters around Diwali. This year is no different as the Rohit Shetty-directed popular franchise series ‘Golmaal Again’ returns to the big screen along with Secret Superstar produced by Aamir Khan. This will be followed by Justice League, Thor- Ragnarok, Star Wars – Last Jedi, Padmavati, Tiger Zinda Hai and other regional films which will release toward the end of the year. Says Dina Mukherjee, CMO, Carnival Cinemas and CEO & Director, MoviEcard Sales Pvt Ltd, “Brands are constantly raising the bar on innovation of communication to make the most of the Cinema medium. While several factors indicate an upward growth, we must be cautious while factoring in this increase, taking into consideration the uncertainty of long term impact the Government’s policies might have.” All in all, plenty of big-ticket movies for brands to engage with, as viewers settle down with their popcorn to catch a flick.
The early onset of the festive season has also led to the under-utilization of budgets because of unavailability of media assets and a lot of brands are only aiming at staying visible till the end of the festive season. Atul Shrivastav, Group CEO, Laqshya Media, says, “With Diwali arriving early this year, November is likely to be slow. Brands are using OOH to ensure their brand visibility till Diwali only. The inventory crunch we are observing currently will make advertisers shift their OOH spending to other mediums to stay visible during the festive time. So, even after a slow first half, the industry will not be buoyant during the festival season. I expect single digit growth as compared to the 11% predicted by the PMAR.”
Nabendu Bhattacharya, MD, Milestone Brandcom says that while demonetization and GST did hit the OOH industry, a few other reasons too led to a slump in OOH spending by brands. “The primary categories that spend on OOH are Telecom services and handsets. While the handset category saw good spends, Telecom providers came under pressure due to the fierce competition in the space from Reliance Jio. The rate cuts resulted in lower spends by existing players. BFSI players also restricted spends this year.”
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