World Cup: Is advertising on digital worth the money?
Brands are looking at different ways to capitalise on the ICC Cricket World Cup. But have the likes of Starsports.com, Cricbuzz and Cricinfo made it too pricy a proposition for advertisers?
Brands are looking at different ways to capitalise on the World Cup. The digital medium is likely to play a major role in over a month-long tournament.
Star Sports had the digital telecast rights for the World Cup through Starsports.com, which is offering a gamut of innovative features to rope in fans and advertisers. Apart from Starsports.com, Cricbuzz and ESPN Cricinfo are the other major properties cashing in on the mega sports event.
With the timings of matches being odd, it would be a great idea to choose the digital route, but there seem to be a few bumps in the way.
Firstly, media planners and brands feel that the costs involved are too high. A few media planners said the effective CPM (cost per mille) or eCPM for pre-roll video ads for Starsports.com could be in the range Rs 500-1,100, depending on the budget (eCPM is a unit used to calculate advertiser revenue per thousand impressions. It helps in comparing the efficacy of different campaigns). This is even higher than the standard eCPM for YouTube pre-rolls, which is usually Rs 400-470. The eCPM for banner inventory on Cricbuzz and Cricinfo for an average budget of Rs 12-13 lakh will be around Rs 135-140, higher than their usual rate which is expected to be around Rs 90-100, said one source.
Most of the digital deals are being cracked on a fixed cost basis, which will affect the eCPM rates; the thumb rule being—higher the budget, lesser the eCPM. Another media planner said on Starsports.com, the minimum benchmark for a campaign budget starts from around Rs 50 lakh (for associate sponsors), going up to Rs 3-4 crore for the main sponsor, while an associate sponsorship with Cricbuzz and Cricinfo would probably start from Rs 30 lakh and Rs 35 lakh, respectively.
However, we could not get a comment from Star Sports despite repeated attempts.
Industry insiders agreed that digital advertising during the World Cup is an expensive proposition due to the high rates. However, the opinion was divided on the efficacy of spending, with a few stating that the high eCPMs were worth the money since the content was premium and the share of voice (SOV) would be quite high, while others felt the rates were too high to provide value for money.
The marketing head of one brand, who did not wish to be named, said, “It was slightly expensive. They were charging a lot for digital. We were comparing it with YouTube because you can do the same targeting on YouTube; geographic targeting, age targeting and choose who to show the ads to. It was three-four times more expensive in terms of comparison.”
This, of course, does not mean that brands have been deterred from exploring this medium. The likes of Vodafone, Idea, Renault, PepsiCo, Airtel, Maruti Suzuki, Hero, etc. are among those advertising on these properties (Starsports.com, Cricbuzz and Cricinfo).
“Digital is going to be the centrepiece of any brand strategy from now on. So, when you take a property like the World Cup, it is no longer a TV property; it is a multimedia property. It is no longer about the TV screen; it is ‘The’ screen. A lot of consumption is going to happen through mobile phones and tablets. If you are betting big on the World Cup, you would look at multiple screens and media and not just TV alone,” said Sunil Kataria, COO (Sales, Marketing and SAARC) of Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL).
But there are those who were not convinced.
Philips, a broadcast sponsor for the World Cup, has opted not to take the digital route. Amit Tiwari, Director (media and digital) of Philips, said as most of India’s matches were either on weekends or on a holiday, the impact of digital would be far lesser compared with TV. He, however, agreed that if a brand was considering viewership across the entire tournament, digital was a great option.
In fact, the venue and the Indian team's progress play an important role for ad budget considerations. For example, Religare, which was one of the sponsors in the last World Cup, decided to give a miss to this edition. Subhrangshu Neogi, Director and Head (Marketing and Brand) at Religare, said the timing of the matches was a reason for the decision.
Policybazaar.com, which is also a broadcast advertising partner, also chose not to invest in digital. Naveen Kukreja, CMO of Policybazaar.com, however, agreed that a lot of brands would focus on digital. “Star Sports is marketing digital separately. They are not mixing it with TV sponsorship. Because of the odd timings, digital is going to get a fair share of consumers and the eyeballs,” he said.
On pricing, he said, “Live streaming is becoming exciting. It is becoming popular in areas where there is good broadband. But it is a limiting factor because as soon as you step out of some top cities, the broadband speed and the number of people who have the connection becomes a challenge. I think they (Star Sports) did pretty well in the IPL last year on the digital end, which has prompted them to price it the way they have done it. They might have slightly overdone it.”
The broadcast ad rates for the World Cup are expected to be around Rs 5 lakh per 10 second.
According to recent media reports, the estimated ad rates for the India-Pakistan World Cup match stood at Rs 25 lakh per spot. This means Rs 75 lakh for a 30-second spot. Only English and HD feed is expected to cost advertisers Rs 16-18 lakh per 10 seconds. Media planners and brands we spoke to were a bit skeptical about the efficacy of such high-priced campaigns.
Cricket has always been a high-impact property and one that never fails to strike a chord and pull the masses. But have publishers and broadcasters gone a bit overboard with the pricing this time? We can only speculate for now, since the truth about the efficacy of the campaigns will only come out once the tournament is over and the final numbers in terms of traffic, page views, etc. come in.
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