If you thought buying ad inventory on channels broadcasting the Indian Premier League (IPL) or the digital platform airing the league is the only way to advertise, you are in for a surprise.
IPL becomes the go-to property for advertisers because of the strong viewership it enjoys every year. Last year, the league attracted as many as 462 million viewers and Disney+Hotstar recorded a reach of 300 million viewers.
IPL 2020 will be played behind closed doors in the UAE from September 19 to November 10.
But is it easy to advertise during IPL?
Not really, as ad inventory is limited and also expensive. So, what can advertisers do?
Cable advertising agency Update Geotarget, which has consolidated 2,500 cable channels in various genres in 2018, came up with a different way of advertising during the IPL last year. And, it won advertiser attention.
A set-top box has a lot to offer
What are these new ways? There are STB (Set-Top Box) and EPG (Electronic Program Guide) solutions. So, instead of advertising on channels, advertisers can make use of the screen time a STB offers.
Confused? Listen to Prabeer Patankar, President and National Sales head of Update Geotarget.
“When you start your STB, it takes around seven seconds to boot up. This is where a brand can display their ads. Then, there is EPG, which is the information bar that appears at the bottom of your screen whenever the viewer surfs through channels. This bar stays on the screen for an average of seven seconds. There is a branding space on this bar, on left/right/top, which can be used for showcasing the brand. So, whenever the IPL matches are on, you can display your ad, every time the consumer operates his/her remote.”
He also said that these properties are channel-agnostic and will appear whenever the remote is operated, irrespective of which channel is being watched — be it satellite, cable, or DD.
More than 60 percent of TV Homes in India get their channel transmission via cable STB connection and Update Geotarget represents this set. And then, there are cable channels.
So, for STB properties, inventories are booked by blocking 24-hour slots where an ad appears whenever the STB is operated within 24 hours.
Brands take the new advertising route
During IPL 2019, brands like Indica Shampoo, Vodafone and Zee5 opted for the two solutions.
“Last year, Indica Hair color, the brand based out of Chennai, wanted to launch their new brand variant with a hair color shampoo. They chose EPG on the launch day of IPL, when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) played their first match with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Brand activity was done in both these markets (Chennai and Bengaluru), only with focus on regional communication. EPG was visible across all channels available on STB (Satellite, Cable & DD),” said Patankar.
Both STB and EPG solutions offer targeted marketing and advertisers can spend for particular markets, he said.
Another example is Vodafone, which announced a tactical ‘Vodafone Fantastic Breaks Contest’ last year during IPL, which gave customers an opportunity to win an iPhone X every match by answering a few simple questions.
“The brand wanted more entries for the IPL-driven contest and used STB solutions to amplify the contest. They took the boot-up screen (landing page) for four days. So, every time STB was put on across India, Vodafone’s contest communication was the default visible-full screen,” he said.
Less money, no worry
But how much do these services cost?
According to Patankar, EPG per day cost is 1/15th of the live cricket 10- second slot cost.
Currently, ad rates on Star India channels are Rs 12 to Rs 13 lakh for a 10-second slot.
“An all-India EPG branding, which is when you swap channels, the brand will appear on the information bar, will cost an advertiser around Rs 50 lakh for a 24-hour branding. But if an advertiser is focusing on specific markets, a day’s branding will cost Rs 8 lakh – Rs 10 lakh. Then, there is the Hathway Pan India EPG cost per day, which ranges between Rs 15 lakh – Rs 18 lakh, which connects or reaches 1.5 crore STBs or homes or approximately seven crore individuals,” said Patankar.
Brands focusing on specific markets
Currently, when marketing budgets are under pressure due to the Coronavirus impact, Patankar said that many brands are opting for specific markets for STB and EPG solutions.
“We are getting enquiries from new categories like education technology, interactive gaming, etc. Plus, there is also good response from the auto sector,” he said.