News and IPL have continued to be favourite properties on TV among brands this year. Though a clear fragmentation is not visible, in some cases budget allocation towards news has increased without affecting IPL spends.
Although, as per conservative estimates, more brands are joining the IPL bandwagon. It is believed that a few brands are eyeing and have displayed special interest in buying ad spots for specific matches. Most of the brands in this case belong to the BFSI, FMCG auto, telecom and e-commerce sectors. Advertisements of brands such as Flipkart, Airtel, Idea, BMW, and a few others are regularly seen during IPL these days, apart from the regular sponsors that Set Max has brought on board.
However, the year 2014 is different as spends from brands have been fragmented between the general elections and IPL. As both the events have collided with the financial year closing, for many companies priorities have played a key role in budget allocation. The key point, however, is that in both the cases, the prime target is the male audience.
Advertisers have indicated that this time advertisers have had an upper hand when it came to negotiation of the deals, as the scale and receptiveness of the general elections is far more than that of IPL. However, the spends have again been prioritised keeping in mind the brand equities.
Viral Oza, CMO Nokia India shared, “We have always stuck to IPL. The perception and acceptance of the game of cricket with regards to masses of India hasn’t changed. There is no fragmentation. As far as elections are concerned, there has been a re-look in strategy as to how we approach them. We have looked at the news genre in a different way because of the elections, as opposed to the conventional way of looking at it. We have continued to invest in the elections too. However, our strategy towards cricket hasn’t changed.”
For some brands, the biggest election property will be the counting day and they don’t consider that media spends should be compared between the elections and IPL. “It is not an apple to apple comparison. IPL is a property; while spending on elections would imply buying a bouquet of channels. News is a part of every category. The only difference that comes out is that marketers have upped their marketing spends. The spends will be slightly more skewed towards news as the level of clutter is higher there,” remarked Anisha Motwani, CMO, Max Life insurance.
According to a senior FMCG marketer, “This year, if a marketer is not getting a satisfactory deal during IPL, he has an option of switching to news and elections, where the level of attention is far higher than IPL and is likely o sustain.”
Gagan Singla, Marketing Head - Digital, Quikr felt that “safe” brands are not spending too much on elections this year. “By safe I mean brands which do not rely much on experimentation. With that rationale, bigger brands are relying more on IPL. If given a chance to choose between both, I would go for IPL. The cricket brand is strong and guarantees mass exposure,” he added.
Another angle is that of the communication. Brands such as Idea and Havells have also devised their communication message in TVCs with an election theme.
How do the budgets work out?
Very few brands would miss out both the mass properties on television. A senior media planner in this context mentioned, “During prime time these days, IPL and news genre are steady options. Strategic timeouts, which are considered to be safe bets for ads, actually undergo a flip. People change channels during breaks that are longer than a minute. So, there is a random viewership of news channels.”
As per estimates, news channels have upped their strategies and programming during the elections. Every channel is either placing a new property or is extending the usual prime time property. For example, the news hour debate has been extended to the weekend slots. Therefore, the channels have more prime ad inventory time to sell. Apart from this, both news and sports genres are not confined by ad cap regulation of 12 minutes. The inventory, therefore, is exhaustive and can be flexed as per the need.
In such cases, marketers and media planners choose selected options, which they feel will engage their target audiences in a nuanced manner. If the objective is branding, then both the genres are being experimented. The morning slot is still commanded by news, while prime time slot of evening and night is shared between news and IPL. A lot also depends on a day like Sunday, which is an off day and when only one IPL match is played. This gives news an upper edge. In the same way, on some days IPL has an edge and this swing game continues.
For brands such as Nokia, which have re-looked their strategies regarding news, it would also imply an increase in the marketing budget towards news. When asked, Oza of Nokia refused to divulge any financial details. Analysts point out that the counting day would be a big day for most news channels as that is when marketers are willing to make their presence felt, as maximum people are glued to the television and the sample viewership of any news channel goes up by 50 per cent.