With the last two phases of the nine-phased Lok Sabha elections 2014 remaining, broadcasters are now gearing up for the Counting Day on May 16. Content plans have been drawn up and more importantly, news channels have sold almost their entire inventory for the day.
As per industry estimates, the average ad rates on news channels on counting day is pegged at Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. exchange4media spoke to a cross-section of advertisers to gauge their reactions to the high ad rates, especially given the short window of time available since the counting will be over the same day, and the frequent switching of channels expected.
Talking about the relationship between the counting day and ad rates, RS Sodhi, Managing Director, Amul India said, “The entire game is about TRPs; it is all about how much money you are paying and how much TRPs you are getting. Every brand caters to a certain segment and when it comes to Counting Day, it is okay to pay premium amount of money.”
Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular felt that the spends should make economic sense. “As far as ROI is concerned, if the advertising falls in line and it is financially feasible, then it’s okay to advertise. The viewership that the channels have will justify the expenditure; however, with so many channels available, the shifting of viewers is also a concern.”
Sharing his thoughts on this, LK Gupta, CMO, Red Bus said, “It is all about the right setting and which has the right segment. Advertising on Counting Day is to focus on a particular target audience, that is, adult male. The stickiness around news channels is very high on the verdict day.”
When asked whether brands will get leverage and gain maximum ROI, he replied, “It is not a matter of any media choice, it’s a factor of going to the masses; and if a brand goes to hit the masses with such pace, it is going to hit some and miss some. What you buy is the impact of programming. Sometimes cricket has an impact or any blockbuster movie has an impact, and this time the elections have an impact. It’s kind of a premium deal to advertise on Counting Day.”
Gupta added, “It’s a smarter move from the brands to book the spot in advance and gain maximum eyeballs. If any brand comes as a late entrant, it will end up paying 100 per cent more than the market rate. Though the viewers shift from one channel to other, after looking at the average TRPs of prominent channels, it is better to get two channels in your basket for advertising.”
That brands need to be contextual and relevant to their viewers on counting day is also one of the most important factors. Advertisers are targeting particular news channels to engage their target group.
According to Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President - Head Marketing, Products and Direct Channels, HDFC Life, “It depends on the brand and the communication. It is perfectly okay to pay a premium on counting day.”
Amit Sharma, CVP, Marketing and Head - Media, Research and Consumer Value Management, Max Life Insurance remarked, “Counting day against non-counting day within the news genre looks like heterogeneity within homogeneity. The rates being floated in the market for the Hindi news genre appear to be unreasonable and astronomically high. This rate inflation of 10-40 times depending on the channel is quite unlikely to reflect in the ratings garnered channels. It is quite possible that the ratings will increase by only 2x-3x.”
He further said, “If we had a campaign on during this period, we would have preferred to stay silent on these media on counting day than compete on such astronomical price points for vanilla FCT. Apart from costs, the implementation challenges on this one single day may act as a deterrent. The situation in the English news genre, however, appears to be a little better.”
Sharma added, “The other aspect for a marketer to consider is the role of such a media opportunity to amplify a core brand proposition, in which case the conventional evaluation approach would be revisited and one would evaluate the impact quotient of this opportunity to power a fitting brand innovation in media.”
ROI vs Eyeballs
Does it make sense to spend so much money and be visible, especially since the window of time is so short?
Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia noted, “Obviously, there will be very high impact as the world is watching the news on this day and we can’t compare this with an ordinary day. As far as ROI is concerned, it is a moving matrix. Clients don’t invest only for ROI, they also look for stickiness and visibility. The counting day is such an event that everyone wants to get associated with and to some extent it works.”
Arun Sharma, VP, Lodestar UM added here, “It all depends on the brands, and honestly, there are many brands that advertise to grab eyeballs on special days like this. Brands don’t mind paying premium rates when there is high reach and visibility within a short span of time; IPL is one of the best examples of this.”
He added, “All these brands have already sold their inventory for the counting day to their sponsors, while the remaining goes for auction at a very high price. Wherever there are eyeballs, advertisers will be available at whatever cost.”