How cable TV became a lucrative ad medium for brands during lockdown

The sheer reach and affordability of cable television has caught the attention of brands big and small during the COVID crisis

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jun 2, 2020 7:55 PM  | 5 min read

For small businesses, cable TV advertising is a cost-effective way to reach out to a large number of people. Especially now, with lockdown rules relaxing and consumers going ‘vocal for local’, smaller brands are looking at it for its sheer reach and ROI-driven model at inexpensive rates.
“With the expected shift in marketing strategy towards regional and hyperlocal targeting, the cable advertising industry is perfectly positioned to deliver for brands and marketers across urban and rural India,” feels Sharad Alwe, Managing Director and co-founder at cable advertising agency Update Geotarget.
As the orange and green zones start to open up for business, marketers are strategically spending their ad budget to target end-users directly. With cable television advertising allowing geographic targeting on a more micro scale, local advertisers are using the platform to reboot their business. Real estate, jewellers, car dealers, coaching centres and food and beverage players are the prominent advertisers on the medium.
However, experts also suggest that it is not just the local brands that would take to cable TV advertising in the post-COVID business scenario. Brands like Renault, Maruti, TVS and others, who have always been active on cable TV, will begin their communication on the platform soon, especially now, when more and more people are opting for private transport against public ones.
“India has already been divided into green, orange, red, and containment zones. The revival of economic activity will vary even within an area as small as a district, forget about states. New habits will be formed as the new normal stays with us for the next 12-24 months. To build a flexible strategy to navigate this two-year period, marketers and brands will look for smart, nimble and targeted messaging solutions. With high reach and an engaged audience, cable advertising offers a true bang for your buck, which is why most of the top 200 brands always keep cable as part of their media plan,” said Alwe.
According to experts, hyperlocal audience sets, regional and multilingual messaging options, pan-India reach to 120 million households, and the ability to geo-target audience sets basis state, SCR (socio-cultural reason), districts, prosperity index, and hyperlocal communities are the inherent strengths of the cable advertising medium.
The sheer reach and fresh content has earned cable television brownie points during the lockdown.
As part of essential services, the cable television industry has been working round the clock to keep the audience engaged. 1000+ MSOs and 50,000+ local cable operators are distributing 500+ satellite channels and 2500+ regionally relevant and locally curated cable TV channels. While metros have alternatives in terms of OTT, it is only cable TV that has a 60 pe cent+ penetration beyond metros.
“Also, the libraries of movies on the key satellite channels are limited and thus people have been exploring the other platforms as well for content consumption. Mostly, the increase of consumption on cable TV has opened up due to want of new movie titles. Since there is decent traction of viewers during the lockdown, there are home-delivery food brands, essential product delivery brands and even local kiranas and pharmaceuticals who have started using it smartly to communicate the relevant service and delivery in the zones by type,” said Sujata Dwibedy, Group Trading Director, Amplifi, DAN India.
Interestingly, there are 1700+ regional and national movie channels, 270+ hyperlocal news, 350+ music channels, and 150+ devotional channels pan-India on cable television, giving brands a plethora of options to choose from.
Talking about the consumer sentiment, Patrick Raju, president, Karnataka State Cable TV Operators' Association, said consumers are looking at information that concerns them and their neighbourhood in this scenario. “From local news to information about local grocery and other essential item shops, consumers want to know what is available, and most importantly, what is open around them.
This is the sentiment that both local and national brands are cashing on. The affordable rates of such communication are an added advantage especially now when most businesses are going through a cash crunch.
“Our FMCG, retail and e-commerce clients have already started targeting basis government-defined red, green and orange zones on the cable platform, as they understand the efficacy and flexibility of ‘television narrowcasting’. We expect this to grow now, even more than ever, as marketers focus on minimum spillover, high reach, and engaged audiences,” Alwe said.
According to experts, cable TV ads are growing at the rate of 30-35 per cent annually. The ad slot rates at the district level are between Rs 20/10 seconds and Rs 30/10 seconds, at the SCR (socio-cultural region) level, the rates go up to between Rs 200/10 seconds and Rs 300/10 seconds, whereas, at the state level, the rates are higher and stand at Rs 1000/10 seconds-Rs 1200/10 seconds.
The advertising options are in the form of TVCs, in-content display solutions, call-to-action display solutions, logo adverts, and long-form brand stories. Cable advertising also offers set-top-box-based solutions such as EPG, a programme guide ad property, which has high impact and high frequency. It can impact up to billions of impressions per day, independent of the channel being watched. The formats, either static, or AV, are the same that would be used on TVCs, digital AV channels, or display advertising mediums.

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