TV outperforms mobile advertising in rural India

Although mobile and digital ad formats are gaining momentum in India, television formats continue to be a dominant form of marketing to reach rural consumers in the country, according to Kantar IMRB‘s latest research.

The market research company found that 59% of rural customers surveyed watched TV in the previous week despite a high penetration of mobile phones among them. Indeed, 79% of rural consumers own a mobile phone, which includes those in small villages of 2,000+ people.

Mobile phone penetration is higher in the north and south of the country (80%), compared to the east (78%) and west (75%).

However, TV continues to be the dominant type of advertising as just 22% of rural consumers are reading newspapers or magazines. Radio has an even lower presence with just 4% of consumers listening.

Similar results were found by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, highlighting an 18% higher number of TV viewership in rural households in the country. Almost 46% of urban Indian homes have a TV compared to 54% of rural homes.

Alpana Parida, MD of brand consultancy DY Works, explains that watching TV is still very much a family activity in rural India.

“There is time allocated for the television in the rural home. Besides, even in our rural study (Emerging Rural Consumer Behaviours), we found that there is a flat-screen TV in rural homes. There is tremendous aspiration in television as a marker of rural (wealth and progress).”

Overall, digital advertising in India appears to be growing at a faster pace compared to TV. GroupM estimates digital advertising to grow faster than TV in the country. TV was expected to increase a little slower in 2016 (17.6%) compared to 2015 (18.9%). However, the research finds that TV continues to account for the majority of ad spend (47%) in the country.

One of the reasons why TV is still strong among rural customers is the lagging growth of the Internet on smartphones in those areas. Data continues to be a costly affair for most rural populations.