Online media stands out in 2021 as it is projected to make a 14% gain together with in-store promotion as advertising executives adopt new strategies to reach consumers whose behaviour patterns has been changed by the pandemic. Swingeing losses have been seen in cinema, magazine and mass transit advertising as well as a continuation in the decline of print media and radio. This year’s disappointment comes as another blow to an industry that has been in decline now since 2013.

Advertising industry chiefs are predicting that spending for 2021 will be down by 2.7% despite a rise in the first half of the year as the disruption caused by the Delta virus is predicted to run into the fourth quarter.

advertising-spends-to-dive-by 2.7-per-cent-in-2021
Dr Tharapuch Jaruwattana of the Media Agency and Media Business Association of Thailand says that advertising practitioners must adapt to the current environment which has altered consumer behaviour. Online media spending is up 14% while TV has temporarily slowed its decline in 2021 but will still find advertising spends down by 3% as media such as cinema and mass transit advertising see large drops.

The advertising industry leadership has warned that after a projected 5.2% rise in advertising spends in the first half of the year, the effects of the COVID-19 virus outbreak beginning in April and strengthening dramatically in June with the Delta variant of the disease, has caused severe damage to the country’s manufacturing sector and consequently adland spends.

Dr Tharapuch Jaruwattana of the Media Agency and Media Business Association of Thailand and the Media Agency Association has predicted that for the year overall, advertising spends will be down by 2.7% to ฿ 101.738 billion.

Industry sees the virus disruption extending into October causing severe economic contraction

In the course of charting the outlook for the industry, the industry leader is also predicting high levels of COVID-19 cases into the fourth quarter of the year and is calling on the government to provide more vaccines to speed up the vaccination programme so that the economy can recover its equilibrium and confidence.

He was joined by Ms Kanokkan Prajongsangsri, an advisor to the Media Agency and Media Business Association of Thailand who said the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus had disrupted the industry because of its widespread impact on the consumers and audiences of Thailand’s media outlets. 

Decline of TV tempered during the pandemic

This has, to some extent, halted what was previously an inexorable decline in traditional TV spends which is the leading advertising medium.

Despite this, the 2021 TV spend is still expected to be off by 3% from last year even as TV holds on to market share and has slowed its decline from 2020.

It is thought the Tokyo Olympics may have helped but the TV viewership for the games was the lowest on record while more people forced to stay at home has emerged as the key factor in giving a short term boost to the broadcasting networks.

Among the big losers from the virus pandemic is cinema advertising which is projected to be down by 28%, outdoor advertising, which will take a hit of 18% and magazine advertising off by 16%.

Print media and radio continued to decline this year but also at more modest rates.

In 2020, both print and radio dropped by 32% and 24% respectively as traditional media is gradually losing its audience deserted by younger demographics.

TV advertising fell by 10.15% in 2020 according to Thai information source Infoquest.

Old fashioned TV is slowly losing its grip as online media advances on a fragmented market

Mobile or transit media such as advertising on public transport has also been slashed in 2021 by 18%. 

Online media however will grow by 14% together with in-store and point of sale advertising near where the consumer buys products, which will edge up by 4%.

Figures based on the economy growing by 0.7% in 2021 with liquidity issues in the market impacting businesses and public consumption patterns

Ms Kanokkan said her projections were based on a GDP growth of only 0.7% for 2021.

She identified restricted financial liquidity in the business sector and among the public as an issue for the industry despite government support.

This comes despite strong financial liquidity in the financial system itself.

Economic malaise in Thailand has been growing with underlying problems now making their presence felt

She suggested that agencies and marketing executives had recently tailored their campaigns to the growth of online media usage combined with indoor placement and advertising channels

The cost of advertising across the media is set to stay pretty much unchanged with a rise of 4% in mainstream TV advertising rates and a corresponding drop in print media rates.

2021 so far has been a year of difficulty but the advertising boss calls for an initiative to turn the crisis into an opportunity with new tactics

Dr Tharapuch closed out the update by explaining that although 2021 has turned out to be a year of difficulty for the advertising industry, it must adapt to the fluid and changing environment by deploying winning strategies.

He insisted that the key to success was putting the consumer first as he or she is the source of all spending and potential income.

He said this will require sharp new strategies and careful management of tightened budgets so that the current crisis becomes an opportunity for successful professionals.

‘We have to look at the problem from a new angle as a challenge for marketers and media planners who have to learn to adapt with new, sharp strategies, with consumer insight and sophisticated media planning. They will have to also manage the available funds to meet the target audience and be worthwhile. This will require understanding the changing behaviour of consumers in the fast-paced new normal era. Adjustments will also have to be made to business plans to meet the needs of consumers accurately and in a timely manner. Everyone, including marketers and agencies, has to put the consumer first. If consumers can survive, brands, businesses, media and agencies can. In a crisis, there is always an opportunity,’ he stressed.

Another blow to an ad industry which has already seen a 39% fall in spends between 2013 and 2020

The outcome for the year is another blow to an industry that already had seen nearly a 39% drop between 2013 and 2020 due to a range of factors that have impacted the domestic Thai economy.

Industry under siege from market forces, technology and an economy troubled by politics

A key part of the challenge has been a decisive change in media consumption patterns among a younger and emerging Thai middle class that is not being captured by traditional Thai media and the advertising industry that has supported and grown-up with it.

This is particularly true for the under 34 demographic which has considerably less loyalty to media outlets while it has also moved online and become very fragmented presenting a challenge to local media planners.

The loss of audiences comes as young people begin to extensively use larger international media and online channels controlled by the world’s internet giants such as Facebook, YouTube and Tik Tok.

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Further reading:

Rocky days for Thai media and ad industry as virus ravages budgets and spends with economic uncertainty

Lockdown accelerates the media shift in Thailand to online news and entertainment consumption at home

Media study highlights Thailand’s changing media landscape as younger folk move online and are less loyal

Nation media group outlines new digital strategy as Thailand’s traditional media slumps in new era

Thailand’s advertisers power the shift to online media in 2019 as print loses out to the internet

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