‘IPL, over the years, has demonstrated its excellence as a marketing platform’

Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison World, explains why IPL is a fine platform for advertisers to improve reach and growth

e4m by Christina Moniz
Updated: Feb 22, 2021 11:34 AM
sam balsara

Advertising and media veteran, Sam Balsara explains why advertisers should explore the IPL to build reach and drive growth. The Chairman and Managing Director of Madison World also adds that the very fact that the number of tournament advertisers has nearly doubled in 2020 from under 70 back in 2015 is a testament to the marketing power of the IPL

As a media agency head and a veteran in the world of media working with brands across categories, how do you view the IPL as a media and advertising platform?

The IPL has demonstrated over the years that it is an excellent platform for marketers. The first thing, which is also the most evident, is the fact that the IPL is a cricket tournament. And no other sport comes as close to cricket, which is passionately followed across the country. In addition, the game lends itself to advertisers very well also because of the format.

There are commercial breaks between each over, and that provides the necessary space for brands to make their presence felt during the tournament. So, you get the benefit of the ads playing out in a bunch of three or four at the most, rather than in a bunch of 20. Also, let’s not forget that the IPL lasts around 40-odd days. Thus, marketers can choose spots in every match or every alternate match, and therefore build a certain amount of reach. That way, the brand can also build on its message playing out with a good frequency to the same viewer. While marketers focus on reach, and the reach of IPL is very good, it's equally important to focus on the repetition of the message at the same time and same place. IPL enables all of this, making it an important reason for brands to come to the platform year after year.

Brands have this myth about the IPL being cluttered in advertising space, yet there is data to prove otherwise and brands have continued to invest in the property to amplify their reach and drive business growth. What are some of the things you would say to advertisers to capitalise on this platform and achieve growth?

So, I would say that for the reasons I just mentioned that the clutter on IPL is in fact less. The format is also such that brands can effectively use the platform irrespective of how many other advertisers are there.

From an industry standpoint, what is the kind of value IPL brings to the AdEx? How did it achieve this in the past year?

In our estimate, the IPL last year had reached Rs 2700 crore and added as much as Rs 300 crore last year, which is remarkable considering that it was a COVID year. And consistently since 2015, in our estimate, the IPL has been adding about Rs 200 to 300 crore every year. In five years, IPL has moved up from Rs 1200 crore in 2015 to Rs 2700 crore in 2020. As much as 5% of the total AdEx and 12% of the TV AdEx today comes from the IPL. Also, the number of advertisers on IPL has been steadily going up, establishing the attractiveness of the tournament to more and more advertisers. In 2015, we believe from under 70 advertisers, today it attracts almost double that number.

The IPL is often seen as a platform that requires huge investment. How would you advise smaller or mid-sized companies with limited budgets to leverage the IPL better?

More and more advertisers should look at IPL, especially those who are looking to making a change in their penetration and their adoption. Also, I would say it's not really necessary to have your eight or ten spots on every match. You could consider taking as little as four or five spots a match and maybe take ten total days of the tournament, and perhaps bunch the spots together. That way your outlay will be restricted and you will be able to test out whether IPL is able to do any magic for your brand.

Can you share with us any interesting case studies from brands that have built themselves up using the IPL as a platform?

Well, I think all those advertisers who have consistently been using the IPL from its very first edition, and there are many like that. These brands themselves demonstrate just how well the IPL can work for your brand. Also, you just need to see the consistency with which brands are appearing year-after-year on IPL and newer advertisers that keep adding on with each year. To my mind, that itself is a case study. But I would also caution advertisers that it would be a mistake to advertise only on the IPL and then remain quiet for the rest of the year. The most important thing for a brand is to be present throughout the year.

There’s tons of data to prove the power of TV advertising and its reach which has been seen over the years. What would you say to advertisers about the power of TV?

Even in the face of growing acceptance and popularity of digital, television advertising continues to dominate the Indian AdEx. In fact, at a time when Digital has moved up rapidly and crossed 30% of the market, Television has for the first time crossed the 40 share barrier and achieved a high share of 42% of AdEx in 2020. So there is no denying the fact that Television is the best brand-building medium that we have. However, as I had said in my speech last year at the ‘TV First’ seminar, there is evidence to show that when you add Digital to a TV campaign, it will help make your TV campaign work more efficiently. And if you add Television to a digital campaign, then it will make your digital campaign more effective. So we have seen that both TV and Digital in today's India can work very well, synergistically.

Having said that, I think one must not forget that other media also have their own role. For example, if you're launching a new brand or you have some announcements to make, then Print is indispensable. Similarly Radio and Outdoor are very powerful reminder media. And Cinema also is an excellent audiovisual media where you have the benefit of large images and a larger than life imagery that can be created. So each medium has its own strength. But there is no denying the fact that right now Television and Digital are the two leading monarchs of the Indian AdEx industry.

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