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Geotargeting can help TV fight OTT

Guest Column: Manas Mishra, Co-Founder at Mediant, writes linear TV must look back on some of the opportunities that it let go of in the past

by Manas Mishra
Published - Jan 21, 2022 9:02 AM Updated- Mar 3, 2022 10:03 AM  |  4 min read

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'Ad-supported Video-On-Demand (AVOD) is the TV Disruptor for 2022'- this headline from AdAge (Dec 2021) says it all. The pandemic disrupted Linear TV like never. The simultaneous release of ‘Black Widow’ both in theatres and on Disney+, is a strong indicator that streaming has solidified its place in the media mix. After a phase of huge growth, Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and others have started seeing slower growth– AVOD is expected to grow more rapidly in the next 2 years.

The evolution of on-demand video: On-demand video content has evolved over a period. Over the last decade, Linear TV (Live TV, broadcast into our living rooms) has been giving room to on-demand TV (VCRs in the 80s/ 90s, DVD libraries in the 90s/ 00s, Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) in the 00s/ 10s. As the technology evolved and the internet became ubiquitous, OTT (SVOD/ AVOD) has come to be the face of on-demand content.

Despite all these developments, linear TV continues to be the biggest TV viewing option across most countries. As per Nielsen, only 28% of TV viewing in the US is Streaming Video (OTT) – Broadcast & Cable TV account for 65% of all TV viewing (Oct 2021). 

(Source: The AdContrarian)

The figures for Streaming Content in India are lower–Satellite TV continues to be the largest platform for TV viewing. However, Digital Adex continues to grow – at a pace faster than the growth of the overall Adex – mostly at the cost of TV and Print Adex. This, despite the dominance of (Linear) TV as a mass medium.

The TV revenue model has traditionally been top-down (led by large national advertisers, percolating down at best to regional brands) while Digital Adex has been bottom-up (millions of companies/ SMEs/ entrepreneurs/ self-employed have found their market through Facebook/ Google Ads). Each has its strengths and had played its role in the media mix quite well till….online video started challenging TV.

The last 2 years of the pandemic encouraged consumers (of media) to try new things – especially when linear TV faced the challenge of providing fresh content for a significantly long period of time in 2020 and on-demand TV had a surfeit of content. Today, in India the big OTT channels can provide 180-400Mn Unique Monthly Active Users (MAUs) while some of the Top National Broadcasters (cumulated across all their genres/ language offerings) can deliver 700-750Mn Unique Viewers in a month. Yes, TV continues to deliver Big Reach; but the reach of AVOD can’t be ignored anymore.

Today (Linear) TV must look back on some of the opportunities it let go of, in the past. Geo-targeted advertising was one such tech-enabled opportunity, the Indian broadcasters may not have taken seriously. Bottom-up in its very nature, geo-targeting catered to local/ regional advertisers who didn’t need to/ want to go national. They got the best of both worlds – larger-than-life TV ads and a footprint that remained relevant. A tech firm and two national broadcasters tried their hand at geo-targeting, but no one tried it long and hard enough to build an ecosystem around it. Cable and Satellite are two pieces of the Linear TV pie in the US – why couldn’t we build two footprints: geo-targeted and national, for TV in India?

At Mediant, geo-targeting helped us help a state government (in the Hindi Belt) dramatically alter awareness of their welfare programs and people’s participation in them. By switching from regional channels to geo-targeted national channels, the reach of their TV plans went up 4-5X with just 1.5X budgets. Today, those options are no longer available to them.

Broadcasters and media planners know every large national advertiser also has local/ regional problems it wants to solve, over and above a national media plan. Geo-targeting will solve the communication problems of advertisers large and small.

Today AVOD options have found a lot of traction for the same geo-targeting, albeit through OTT. Sports broadcasting has also leveraged regional feeds for IPL/ International Cricket.

Time for Indian TV broadcasters to revive geo-targeting?

The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) and its members can preside over 2 major strategic steps:

  • Make geo-targeting mainstream within broadcaster P&Ls – pilot an action plan at each network
  • ‘Market’ TV to online advertisers – with the promise of a smoother interface, ‘larger-than-life’ presence without the premium/ spillover.

Time for TV to ‘advertise itself’!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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