Ujaya Shakya
Jan 10, 2022

A view from Nepal: The much-awaited advertising transformation

The author provides an update of the advertising, media and marketing industry in Nepal and how it has progressed over the last year

A view from Nepal: The much-awaited advertising transformation
As we prepare for the post-pandemic world, things do not remain the same even in Nepali advertising as we see a changing pattern in terms of the whole consumer journey. And to cope with these, marketing leaders are preparing to extract accurate marketing insights, making us prepared for the 'marketing of tomorrow'. This comprises of companies working in adopting new marketing tactics to increase engagement, acquiring new kinds of talents and skills to understand data science and many who want to transform their business to leverage e-commerce and online transactions which have subsequently increased in recent times.
These are patterns that are emerging within businesses to adopt with the digital transformation journey in tandem with the changing consumer journey. But, here are other factors that are working towards making our profession more interesting as we work together to build the marketing ecosystem in the country.
The much-discussed clean-feed policy got implemented in the midst of the Covid pandemic, starting from October 2020, with all the key foreign channels broadcasting within Nepal going without paid advertisements. It was an end of an era for many global brands that had leveraged spillover advertising in the past. Now if you want to attract the eyeballs of Nepali audiences, you will have to do your media planning specific to Nepali channels, particularly if your consumer journey demands audiovisual demonstration as a brand catering to mass audiences. And how long will they wait till they decide to take on media planning specifically for the Nepali audience as we have a sizeable audience of over 30 million population for a relatively small country in the region? 
Almost two-thirds of the population is considered a young audience by definition who are entering the job market and will become the primary wage earners, decision-makers and influencers in their household purchases. If the presumption is right, within this same decade, we will also see the rise of the middle class as these younger lot enter the job market to create a larger impact on our economy. We all have good learning in the region particular from countries like India and Bangladesh, which should be helpful to devise our country’s marketing strategy as we move from here.
With the same policy,  dubbed advertisements for television channels in Nepal have been barred as well. This means they will now have to produce films specifically for the Nepal market with Nepali artists. Many brands have accepted this challenge and have re-created, re-produced or conceptualised films successfully.
At the same time, the Government has also formed the Advertisement Board, based on the Advertisement (Regulation) Act 2019. This aims to regulate, monitor and operate the entire advertisement market. The ad board is currently working with all the major stakeholders to finalise the first advertising policies of the country which will try to define a framework to bring more clarity to the process.
With the opportunity that came along, both in terms of the content industry and clean feed policy, most homegrown channels, who were largely relied on news and current affairs programs have suddenly tilted their investment towards high-value entertainment programs and upgraded their technology to the high definition television format. There are sudden boosts in entertainment contents in the likes of reality shows, music and dance shows, comedy shows, movies, crime stories, sitcom comedy series, live sports and many more which has suddenly heightened the viewership of domestic channels. Their YouTube uploads are also largely trending with millions of views. Of course, to leverage this, many new Nepali channels have been launched in the space. There are more than 40 national satellite channels besides regional channels options while you browse through your DTH which has been able to successfully penetrate almost 60% of TV homes in Nepal as per the recent study.
Not to forget, local Nepali YouTube channels with millions of subscribers, local influencers and category-specific KOLs have considerable fan followings and have made this their profession. Ever-growing local portals work together with global social media and content platforms to create effective digital touch-points for reaching Nepali audiences as they largely serve their content in vernacular language in comfort to the wider mass Nepali population. The most successful Nepali App, Hamro Patra has crossed over 10 million downloads. Also, a few local OTT entertainment platforms are trying their luck and will surely make good progress soon with the ever-increasing mobile subscription and countrywide 4G penetration.
With this, the advertising ecosystem is slowly getting recognised as an industry, which was not the case when I started my career over two decades ago. I am particularly happy to see other industry bodies which are now becoming more active or being launched and created to help in the process.
Last year also showcased a more active role from The Ad Club of Nepal which has wider professional participation from the whole business ecosystem of the agency team, brand team and media marketing professionals. We also celebrated the first Ad Day celebrating Nepali advertising (Bigyapan) for the whole week which was organised by the Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN). The formation of the Nepalese Marketing Association (NMA) last month for the first time brings together larger marketing professionals, academicians and other stakeholders to usher in positive changes. And the whole new breed of the next-generation ad professionals, largely millennials, who are more digital savvy, data-driven and understand the IT ecosystem more than anyone, and have the ambition to achieve something great for the love of this professional and the country as the world becomes more globally connected. Also, the formation of Media Alliance Nepal during the pandemic period along with Media Society Nepal which will work towards the betterment of Nepali media and the content industry brings more positive hope for the future of our profession as we work in hand in hand with a wider ecosystem to enable marketing communication and establish brands that are loved by its consumer.
And of course, not to forget the consumer journey, where we can map a person through the day which crisscrosses between the digital world and the real world. In the process, the task is to build a narrative of the brand through the journey of the person not just looking at things from the conventional format where we used to divide their journey sharply between digital and traditional. But learnings to acknowledge the fact that both go together to create a largely impactful brand.
The author is the founder managing director of Outreach Nepal and the author of ‘Brandsutra’


Campaign India

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