Mental health a key pivot in Future Generali's brand story: Ruchika Varma

Varma, CMO, Future Generali India Insurance, revealed that more than 23% surge in search for health insurance makes Google even more central to the company's media planning objectives

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: Jun 4, 2021 8:49 AM  | 8 min read
Ruchika Varma

Leading with a human touch, life insurance company Future Generali has made it a mission to be at the forefront of the much-needed mental health conversation in India. From roping in fitness influencers and celebrities to rolling out impactful multi-video campaigns like #HealthInsideOut, FGII has propelled a movement urging all Indians to take their mental health seriously.

Its latest YouTube series – ‘Mind Matters’ portrays India’s top athletes in a completely new light, speaking about their mental health battles and simultaneously creating mental health awareness. exchange4media chatted with Ruchika Varma, CMO, Future Generali India Insurance on the campaign, strategy behind using sports personalities to strike conversations on health; business strategy for 2021 and more.

Edited excerpts below:

What was the thought process behind the brand selecting mental health as the key talking point? 

India has a large, unaddressed mental health problem. WHO estimates that one in every five Indians is suffering from some kind of mental health issue, made only worse by the COVID-19 situation. Excessive worries about physical health, financial insecurity due to extended lockdowns, long periods of social disconnection, and fear of losing jobs continue to plague Indians' mental health. And this is not even taking into account the crippling second of COVID-19, which only serves to exacerbate the problem.

Unfortunately, discussing mental illness continues to be considered taboo in India. As a brand whose purpose is to be a lifetime partner for the customers and lead with empathy, human touch and innovation, we realized an urgent need to start a conversation around mental health in India. We aim to bring conversations around mental health to our living rooms. 

We did this with our #HealthInsideOut campaign, the first phase of which was launched on World Mental Health day in 2020. We started the conversation by launching an API-based diagnostic tool, Total Health Score, to help people analyze their mental and physical health status. We then built the conversation by launching a multi-video campaign where inanimate objects told the story of mental illness from their perspective. 

‘Mind Matters’ is yet another initiative by FGII to create awareness around the issue. This unique talk show created and curated by Future Generali, offers a sneak peek into the minds of successful sports personalities, who discuss their personal mental health struggles in a bid to de-stigmatize the issue, create awareness about the symptoms of mental illness and educate people to take action and seek help, both medical and financial.

Share with us the idea behind using sports personalities to strike conversations on health?

The main idea behind ‘Mind Matters’ was to create mental health awareness through people who are known well for their high fitness levels, both mental and physical, and yet candidly admit to having dealt with mental health issues in the past. We hoped that the story of their struggle and how they overcame it would create awareness and encourage viewers to seek help in case of the need.

By virtue of the nature of their profession, sports celebrities need to be in top form at all times. This often leads to the mistaken impression that physical fitness is all that matters to a successful sports star. Quite contrarily, each of the sports celebrities featured on ‘Mind Matters’ stressed that mental health is as important as physical health. And it was only when they addressed their mental health issues by actively seeking help for them that they were finally able to achieve their true potential on the field. Therefore, who better than sports celebrities to act as role models to bring about awareness on the subject. 

Each of the sports stars featured had a never-heard-before story to share, from football champ Sunil Chhetri, who spoke about how he dealt with social media abuse when he wasn’t able to score in a match; to the big-hitting top-order batsman, Robin Uthappa, who revealed that he battled clinical depression and suicidal thoughts for nearly two years during his career; from international cricket batting genius Cheteshwar Pujara, who credits consulting a sports psychologist with changing his game to Olympic gold medalist and ace shooter Abhinav Bindra, who as a part of the mental health working group for the International Olympic Committee, has made it a mission to create a psychologically safe environment for athletes, to tennis sensation Sania Mirza, who talks about dealing with the pressure of constant social media scrutiny at a young age.

Tell us about the media plan strategy and how banking on digital has helped the brand? While digital as a medium is very cluttered, how does the company manage to break that clutter through its communication?

As a brand that offers health insurance, Future Generali has made mental health a key pivot in its brand story. ‘Mind Matters’ is FGII’s latest endeavor to create awareness of the difficult issue of mental health and normalize its conversation. 

Conceptualized by FGII as a 15-minute five-part video series featuring India’s sports icons, it was executed by our AOR, What’s Your Problem. Anchored by Samir Kochhar, Mind Matters is hosted on YouTube and portrays India’s top athletes in a completely new light and has them opening up about their mental health struggles and triumphs like never before, proving the point that mental fitness is as important as physical fitness, and simultaneously creating mental health awareness as well as brand awareness about FGII’s efforts in this direction.

Our media strategy follows consumer behaviour and this campaign is no different. While Instagram, Facebook and YouTube continue as key mediums, we see shifts in consumption patterns on other media. There is a switch to OTT platforms which have collectively seen an increase in viewership by 3-4 million. News is now consumed digitally, evident in the spike in visits to news sites by more than 40% and the increasing popularity of apps such as In-Shorts. We’ve also picked up a surge in search for health insurance by 23%, making Google even more central to our media planning. We will be present on all these digital platforms in a big way to promote our message. We are also present in high-traffic sports sites to reach out to sports enthusiasts.      

Share insights about the campaign performance and the visibility it was able to achieve?

“Mind Matters” aims to share inspiring stories of India’s most prominent sports stars in an attempt to normalize mental health conversation and nudge the larger audience to take a cue from these sports stars and pay attention to their own mental well-being. 

The sports celebrities touched on complex topics from dealing with depression, anxiety, negativity to social media scrutiny, performance anxiety and pressure. These are issues that everyone deals with to varying degrees in the course of their lives. So, not surprisingly, the audience found each of the five-part weekly series immensely relatable. The five videos, amplified across digital media, have been extremely well-received, with a combined view of over 5 million on YouTube and a total reach of 20 million people in all. The videos were picked up and commented upon by influencers such as Danish Sait, Rahul Subramaniam, celebrities from the sports world such as VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and sportswriters such as Harsha Bhogle, Ayaz Memon, Rahul Rawat and even picked up by platforms like LinkedIn organically. The latest video featuring tennis star Sania Mirza was very well-appreciated and even got several female celebrities talking such as Farah Khan, Anusha Dandekar, Ananya Birla, IAS officer Srushti Deshmukh, among others.

Share with us the brand’s business strategy for 2021 and how the brand is coping up with another lockdown?

Thanks to great foresight and an effective action plan executed at the right time, FGII was able to deal with the impact of the pandemic better than most other organizations. The company’s preparedness and adaptability to the new norm of working entirely on digital technology have stood us in good stead during the current lockdown as well. 

We now know that the pandemic has reshaped consumer preferences, forcing them to focus on health. Not surprisingly, health insurance as a category has been appreciated tremendously, and FGII will continue to focus on health insurance and related products. We are also taking a close look at the specific needs of various demographics to come up with tailor-made, innovative, new products that address current risks. 

Our Future Generali Health Total insurance policy that covers hospitalization and OPD consultation for mental illness, the #HealthInsideOut campaign, and our latest content property ‘Mind Matters’ are all steps in this direction as they help fill the market gaps based on consumer insights. 

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MyTeam11 onboards Shikhar Dhawan as brand ambassador

With Dhawan, the brand hopes to attract more sports enthusiasts to the platform

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 1:31 PM   |   2 min read


MyTeam11 has appointed cricketer Shikhar Dhawan as their new brand ambassador.

With Dhawan, the brand hopes to attract more sports enthusiasts to the platform. The newly appointed skipper of the IPL franchise Punjab Kings will soon appear in a series of promotional campaigns for MyTeam11, this year.

Expressing his excitement about the partnership, Dhawan said, "MyTeam11 empowers the fans to be a part of the on-field action and put their knowledge of sports to test. It allows the fans to step in the shoes of a captain and make decisions which help their team to win. I am thrilled to associate with MyTeam11, a brand which takes fan engagement to a whole new level and makes the fans more connected to the game."

While commenting on the decision to rope Dhawan as the brand ambassador, Vinit Godara, Co-founder and CEO of MyTeam11 said, "We are extremely delighted to have Shikhar on board as our brand ambassador. Over the years, Shikhar has been a consistent performer in international cricket for India and is admired throughout the nation. His ability to fearlessly face the toughest situations and lead as the anchor resonates with our brand's core values. He also enjoys a high level of popularity & credibility in the cricket community which is consistent with the brand's goal of becoming the most reputable and trustworthy homegrown fantasy sports app in India. With his addition to our team, we hope to further spark the growth of our brand in India.”

Speaking on the versatility of MyTeam11 being the pioneers of fantasy gaming for multiple sports on their platforms, Shikhar said, “Just not cricket, I was an active participant in football and volleyball during my younger years. So, I can connect with the vision of MyTeam11 as it’s a multi-sport fantasy destination for users.”

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Aditya Birla Health Insurance pushes for 10,000 steps a day in new campaign

Dentsu Creative India has conceptualised the campaign

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 1:11 PM   |   3 min read

Aditya Birla

Aditya Birla Health Insurance (ABHI), in association with DENTSU CREATIVE India, has launched its latest campaign. The campaign highlights the perks of taking 10,000 steps every day and encourages individuals to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. 

It is pertinent to note here that ABHI is the fastest-growing health insurance company in India. As a health partner, they don’t just ‘insure health expenses’, but actively engage with people to ‘ensure good health’. It rewards you for your good health with up to 100% Premium back as HealthReturns™ and provides you with support at every stage – with guidance on nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle. This insurance offers a host of additional benefits such as a 94% claim settlement ratio and a 10,500+ hospital network with seamless hospitalisation benefits. 

The film showcases real-life individuals who have embraced the habit of walking 10,000 steps daily, highlighting the transformative impact it has had on their lives, both physically and mentally. Through inspiring and relatable stories, the campaign encourages and motivates individuals to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. The film is on air on television and is supported by a series of shorter static and video content on digital platforms, featuring even more inspiring stories of transformation and positive change. 

Speaking on the campaign, Darshana Shah, Head-Marketing & CX, Aditya Birla Capital said, “As brand Aditya Birla Capital, we have always believed in simplifying money needs and focused on real people and real stories. So, when we were planning our ABHI brand campaign, we wanted our positioning of focusing on ‘Health First’ in Health Insurance to come to life through our own customers’ stories of how they have achieved the best version of themselves by walking 10000 steps daily. We also want to showcase how ABHI is empowering their customers to do so through their entire health and wellness ecosystem at their fingertips through the Active Health Mobile App. Today we have 1600+ customers who earn up to 100% of HealthReturns™ and this film is to create awareness and nudge more to join and start their Health Journey.” 

Talking about the inspiration behind the campaign, Aalap Desai, CCO, Creative Experience, West, DENTSU CREATIVE India added, “We were awed by the product itself and then to hear real stories of ABHI consumers who have had a transformation by walking 10,000 steps daily was truly amazing. We instantly knew that the campaign needs to showcase real people and their stories. We hit upon a very simple idea of when you keep moving forward, you leave something behind and what worked best in this film is the simplicity of storytelling. Sudip da, the director of the film sprinkled his magic dust adding delightful dimensions and textures to the story, the characters, and their performances. This has been a great start of the year for DENTSU CREATIVE India and will motivate us to do even better in the coming time.”

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Affle India Q3FY23 results: Lower international revenue plays spoilsport: Elara Capital

As per Elara Capital, there is no significant margin improvement unless overall revenue growth comes in the range of 25-30%

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 12:58 PM   |   7 min read


Elara Capital has released a report on Affle India's financial results. 

Here's what the report states:


Sharp decline in developed nations has played spoilsport

Affle India (AFFLE IN) reported revenue of INR 3,761mn in Q3FY23, a growth of 6.1% QoQ/10.8% YoY. 9MFY23 revenue was INR 10,781mn, up 40.6% YoY, whereas 9MFY23 organic growth was 24.2% YoY. In Q3, revenue from India wasINR 1,297mn (34.5% of revenue, up 14.0% QoQ and 22.1% YoY), with international revenue at INR 2,463mn (65.5% of revenue, up 2.3% QoQ/5.6% YoY). Enterprise platform revenue stood at INR 16mn (0.4% of revenue, down 36.8% QoQ/48.6% YoY) and consumer platform revenue INR 3,745mn (99.6% of revenue, up 6.4% QoQ/11.3% YoY).

Consistent margin improvement, key to driving upgrades

AFFLE has reported a muted growth quarter as developed nations played spoilsport (21% YoY dip, as per our assessment). But traction in emerging nations/India business (strong double-digit growth) was helped by increased penetration opportunity, despite ad budget cut by new age/commerce companies, as estimated. We continue to believe that players such as AFFLE that rely more on CPCU model have the potential to outperform on growth, as marketers focus more on ROI led campaigns. New customer acquisitions are larger revenue contributors in AFFLE’s CPCU segments, as repeat user/conversion will pick pace, medium term. We believe emerging nations will recover faster on digital advertising growth versus developed nations that may take ~12-14 months to recover lost ground. This in turn augurs well for AFFL as it derives 80% of its revenue from emerging nations. The management continues to focus on higher profitability, led by: 1) quality conversions and 2) stable pricing, despite an uncertain macro environment.

EBITDA margin up 142bp YoY to 21.4%

Q3 EBITDA stood at INR 803mn, up 13.5% QoQ and 18.7% YoY, led by revenue growth, though partially offset by increase in data and inventory cost (up 3.7% QoQ and 5.9% YoY), increase in employee cost (up 3.9% QoQ and 30.3% YoY) and increase in other expenses (up 11.4% QoQ and 0.3% YoY). Although data and inventory cost, as percentage of revenue, decreased 138bp QoQ/280bp YoY (60.7% of Q3FY23 revenue), EBITDA margin was 21.4%, up 140bp QoQ/142bp YoY. Q3 PAT was at INR 691mn, up 17.2% QoQ/11.0% YoY, led by operating leverage and increase in other income (up 28.6% QoQ/14.2% YoY), partially offset by increase in D&A cost (up 3.8% QoQ/37.2% YoY), rise in finance cost (up 10.6% QoQ/68.8% YoY) and increase in income tax (up 26.1% QoQ/35.7% YoY). Q3 CPCU revenue was at INR 3,454mn, up 4.9% QoQ/14.0% YoY. Converted users reached an all-time high of 67.8mn (up 4.8% QoQ, 15.9% YoY) in Q3. CPCU rate was the same QoQ at INR 51. Non CPCU consumer platform revenue was INR 291mn, up 28.0% QoQ but down 12.7% YoY. Despite global headwinds, top industry verticals for the company continued to be resilient, helping it register robust growth anchored on CPCU business model and disciplined focus – Higher profitability with significant margin expansion both QoQ/YoY.

Affle India – Q3FY23 conference call

▪ Affle saw robust growth in nine months and the highest CPCU revenue and conversions. CPCU business is resilient and has long-term business momentum. Strong focus on emerging markets enabled good performance.

▪ Macro headwinds can be a setback, especially in the US and Europe.

▪ Affle is actively evaluating inorganic growth opportunities as well and is looking at high-growth, sustainable volume expansion. Affle seeks inorganic growth without compromising on margin/profitability.

▪ Except for developed markets, global emerging markets were resilient.

▪ Affle has an extremely prudent customer profile and is well diversified on markets/customers. It is confident of long-term business prospects.

▪ Developed market contribution is smaller for Affle. There are headwinds in the markets but there are fewer customers too. Some have held budgets due to macroeconomic headwinds. FY24 outlook is positive. From an internal perspective, certain areas could be calibrated to increase revenues in developed markets. In the next couple of quarters, Affle may turn around developed market revenues.

▪ Affle is focusing on margin expansion, profitability, and quality conversions and not volumes. It was able to hold ground/pricing, which has reflected in margin as well.

▪ CPCU business is bulk of the total business and is resilient. It is ROI-led and verticalized for the advertisers. Affle has been maximizing its strengths. And the non CPCU business is good for maximizing margin going forward. There are many opportunities, and they continue to be long-term.

▪ In terms of growth mix, India market is expected to grow 23% (other global emerging markets in the same range as well) – 80% of the business is from emerging markets, including India. The focus has been on bottom line/margins this quarter. Resilient long-term growth is at 25%+. In the developed markets, there is a contraction given the small customer base that is holding budgets and activities. The addressable market in developed markets is still large, with better execution strategy that may help win customers. Expect good results in the next couple of quarters.

▪ Overall margins have improved because of highermargin CPCU business (also on revenue quality). The conscious strategy was to grow the margin in Q3.

▪ Affle is a fast-growing company, and its capital allocation strategy is as follows. The company mentioned earlier that it will not provide dividends for the first five years and will focus on growth. ▪ Affle is not pushing for topline maximization but is focusing on revenue. It is seeking CPCU projects with higher margins.

▪ Affle expects Q4FY23 revenue to be similar to Q3FY23 revenue

▪ In terms of India and emerging markets, competitive moat is strong. Affle will deliver similar or better growth in FY23 compared with FY22.

▪ CPCU pricing is better in other emerging markets than in India. Affle is ensuring pricing with delivering meaningful growth across emerging markets.

▪ Regarding Google Play policy for India, Affle thinks it is important for the industry to have a fair playing field especially when there are players who can have disproportionate control. The company feels that it is important to have balancing factors coming in it is happy to see Indian ecosystem moving towards that. Affle was able to negotiate growth well before the policy and it hopes that it will continue post the policy as well. Affle India 4 Elara Securities (India) Private Limited

▪ Affle is also focusing on important operators and OEM partnerships in the ecosystem.

▪ Emphasis is on new user/repeat customer acquisition. Demand from advertisers is always to acquire the next 100-200mn users. Affle is seeking more market share expansion. Many large traditional conglomerates are going to focus on digital. Even larger established digital companies with developed technologies need digital advertising while expanding in emerging markets. Expect large budgets from traditional companies. The margins for new and repeat user conversion are almost the same. In developed markets, there is an opportunity to drive repeat user conversion.

▪ As per Affle’s business model, its products work in all the scenarios. Technology stack is allowing deeper and wider access. Advertisers are focused more on profitability and ROI, hence are more cautious about spending advertising budgets.

▪ India is contributing ~35% to revenues, with other emerging markets at 45% and developed markets contributing the rest 20%. Hence, India and emerging market form 80% of revenue and Affle is delivering consistent growth in that segment.

▪ With margin expansion and pricing being defended, the outcome is positive.

▪ Data and inventory as % of decreased as Affle was able to command more meaningful pricing w.r.t CPCU rates and also due to better efficiency. The goal is to consistently seek overall margin expansion.

▪ M&A: Affle will find value-led appropriate transaction to compliment itself. Transactions would be in similar proportion and scale to Affle.

 ▪ Expect data and the inventory cost (traffic acquisition cost + data processing) in the range of 60-65% of revenues. International revenue (developed markets) declined ~21% YoY due to macroeconomic headwinds.

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Social media has become a reach-based platform selling stories: Shubhranshu Singh

Singh, Vice President - Marketing -Domestic & IB at Tata Motors, speaks about the company’s latest campaign and their marketing strategy

By Tanzila Shaikh | Feb 7, 2023 9:25 AM   |   4 min read

shubranshu singh

Tata Motors recently released their latest campaign for Tata Motors trucks, ‘Desh Ke Trucks’. Using humour as the main element, the films talk about the various technologies that the vehicle company is bringing out. Four of the five films launched under the campaign has characters from popular web series Panchayat.

Talking about the insights behind using the characters of the series, Shubhranshu Singh, Vice President - Marketing -Domestic & IB at Tata Motors, said, “The Panchayat jodi was loved by the audience when they launched a similar campaign in September 2022, and so we are banking on the same characters to woo the audience this time too.” 

When asked about the importance of the digital medium for creating a buzz for the brand, Singh mentioned, “You’ll be surprised to know how many people have time for internet-mediated content vs TV advertising. Overwhelming proportion of people are mobile-first, seeing all the content through different channels. Across the country, you’ll see a host of apps for regional and local consumption as well as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram. The reality is changing very fast.” 

Talking specifically about influencer marketing, Singh shared, “When it comes to influencer marketing, we do it in parts. Part of it is done through corporate communication. We are choosing micro and nano influencers. We found that the micro and nano influencers have much more engagement with their followers. We have tied up with an agency. The budget is in low thousands average bases. It is quite affordable compared to any other form of advertising.”

While influencer and advertising-led content is something that every company does, some brands these days are also investing on content surrounding the brand. Speaking on the same, Singh said, “Yes, we are open to that idea. But is there anything that we are going to inaugurate tomorrow, no.”

“From a media point of view, there is no doubt that this cable-cutting thing is an endemic and everything is shifting to digital. But in online, not everything is fetching the same returns. Creating content requires heavy investments, but returns are less.”

When it comes to reaching out to consumers, WhatsApp also has become an effective way to reach consumers. Talking about it, Singh shared, “It is quite fascinating to see what many brands are doing using WhatsApp. There is no doubt that communication is happening through platforms like WhatsApp. Social media has become a reach-based platform selling stories and there is a lot of engagement happening on platforms like WhatsApp. We are there on WhatsApp, as our consumers use it.”

“But I think it is less about content and more about transaction. They aren’t creating any content on WhatsApp. We are in touch with Meta to create a business application. There is also a possibility of business chatbot. The problem with channel building is that putting the pipe is easy but being consistent to put content is tough.”

Speaking about their plans to make the most of the digital channels, Singh said, “We are going to go ahead with the second set of campaign from February on digital. Also our lead generation has shifted to digital. In the last one year, we have started doing programmatic advertising, both search-originated as well as on social platforms to campaign pages. We are also working with affiliation aggregators. I am happy to report that we are at double digits in terms of contribution of digital sales to overall sales.”

The ‘Desh ke Trucks’ campaign has been conceptualised and executed by the in-house team of the company along with creative agency Black or White Brand Communication Pvt. Ltd. the teams also spoke about why Panchayat characters were taken in the campaigns, they said, “What we learnt from the first set of campaign, is that humour is really working and we wanted to take this technology communication through them.”


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Will funding winter freeze start-up ad spending in 2023?

Most of these brands have already started to cut their marketing budgets. According to TAM Media data, the indexed avg volume growth for new-age advertisers on TV fell by 11% in 2022 through October

By Sonam Saini | Feb 7, 2023 8:57 AM   |   5 min read

funding winter

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019 brought consumers online and categories such as edutech, fintech, crypto, e-gaming and e-commerce benefited greatly. As a result, some of these brands emerged as prominent advertisers in the last two years. But with start-up funding in India falling to a two-year low in the third quarter of CY22, media planners believe that brands in these categories are unlikely to spend significantly in FY 23. In fact, many advertisers have already begun to reduce budgets, say experts.

Ad spends in last three fiscal

2022 was a difficult year for start-ups and new-age businesses, with many of them reporting huge losses. However, despite the setbacks, many of them spent large sums of money on advertising in FY 21-22. In fact, ad spends for majority of these brands more than doubled in the last three fiscal years. According to Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2022, in 2021, 15 new-age companies/start-ups, including Dream 11, Byju’s, Phonepe, Upstox, My 11 Circle, CRED, Unacademy and Swiggy, entered the list of top 50 advertisers.

For example, upGrad's marketing and advertising expenditures increased three times in the last three fiscals to Rs 393.68 crore in FY21-22 from Rs 95 crore in FY19-20. Similarly, Unacademy’s ad spends rose by 359.86% to Rs 519.64 crore in FY 21-22 from Rs 113 crore in FY19-20. For Phonepe, marketing and advertising expenditures declined 14.85% to Rs 866 crore in FY21-22 from Rs 1017 crore in FY 19-20. However, it increased by 61.87% to Rs 866 crore in FY21-22 from Rs 535 crore in FY20-21. 

According to Ankit Khirwal, Head of Marketing, upGrad, in 2022, the brand launched new sub-brands and new products, made acquisitions and tapped into new markets etc, and this  added to the company's overall marketing spends. “This growth momentum and marketing drive will continue in 2023 and we are likely to increase the spends by 40%,” said Khirwal. 

He shared that in 2022, upGrad’s digital media expenditure rose by 20%. “Our core TG is working professionals, typically in the age group of 21-35 years, who spend a lot of time on YouTube, social media, and other digital platforms. So, majority of our marketing budget was spent on this category, followed by performance marketing expenditures on Google search, which helped us reach the audience with the highest intent. Between March and December 2022, our marketing spends on television was marginal,” added Khirwal.

So, is it necessary for brands to spend such huge amounts on marketing even though they are incurring losses? 

Explains Ramsai Panchapakesan, SVP & National Head-Media Buying at Zenith, “The word ‘huge’ is highly subjective. Marketing expenditure is always proportional to sales revenue.”

“When a start-up begins its journey, it will invest and look for returns, which means that the marketing budget will be divided into two components. A certain percentage, which they refer to as investment, will continue to decrease. The skill marketing, where the return has been focused, which is similar to performance, will continue to increase depending on market responses and expanding audience size. So that requires additional money to keep doing it,” he said further.

A senior media planner, on the condition of anonymity, shared the possible reason for this continued spending on marketing by the start-ups. “One of the reasons for the increase in spending was that many of the companies, which were experiencing organic growth during Covid, began to see this growth flatten. As a result, significant spending was required to maintain the same level of growth,” he opined.

Impact on FY23 

Most of the advertisers have already started to cut their marketing budgets. According to TAM Media data, the indexed average volume growth for new-age advertisers/start-ups on TV fell by 11% in 2022 through October compared to 2021. While the majority of these new- age businesses prefer television as a medium for advertising, others experiment with marketing outreaches.

According to the media planner, ad spending from these new-age categories has declined in the second half of the year 2022. “There might be year-by-year growth, but in 2023, we don't see many of them increasing their ad spends. We are seeing most of them pulling out from big properties like IPL,” he suggested. 

The planner further added, “2023 is expected to be a slow year. It will be best if they can maintain ad spends level of 2022. Otherwise it will be a decline.” 

Panchapakesanhe predicted that spending will be almost similar to last year. "The investments were at peak last year and this is specific to the existing start-up companies. They all have now started focusing on performance. So, for every dollar that they spend on marketing, they are seeking a return. As a result, the marketing budget will be on a tightrope, with the emphasis entirely on performance.”

What can brands do?

Dinesh Singh Rathore, CEO of Madison Omega, suggested that these companies will have to determine their strengths, areas of acceptance, and what works for them. “They need to find out which part of the investment provides the best return on investment?”

"Investments in performance vs. branding cannot be done simultaneously. There must be a fine balance, and one cannot chase only performance," he explained.

Experts say it's difficult to predict how long the funding slowdown will last, but businesses are being cautious and have cut back on spending.

"The strategy being followed by most of these companies is to reduce anything that increases the burn, which means a reduction in top-of-funnel awareness campaigns and a focus on performance campaigns," said an industry observer.

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‘We are number 1 because people are watching us’

Avinash Kaul, Managing Director, AETN18 and CEO - Broadcast for Network18, shares insights about the channel’s top ranking, BARC ratings and much more

By Imran Fazal | Feb 7, 2023 8:14 AM   |   9 min read

Avinash Kaul

Avinash Kaul, Managing Director, AETN18 and CEO - Broadcast for Network18, in an in-depth conversation shared how News18 India has managed to be the number 1 news channel in the country consecutively for the past few weeks, the importance of BARC ratings and the launch of the ninth season of History TV18’s OMG! Yeh Mera India, which became one of the longest-running home-grown shows in the infotainment space on Indian television.

How does the whole scenario in terms of ratings look for the news cluster of TV18 now?

For TV18, all our Hindi channels are number one, including News18 India. We are number 1 in all the English channels - both CNBC and CNN News18 are number one. We have tremendous work going on in the regional languages - Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, and Tamil. In Gujarati, we are number two, while in Tamil, we are almost number three. We have improved significantly over the last year or so in terms of all the channels that we have. If you were to compare us on an overall basis, we have the highest amount of reach compared to any other news network in the country.

BARC claimed that they have resumed the ratings after developing the Augmented Data Reporting Standards for news and special interest genres. Do you think this has led to establishing a fool-proof measurement rating system now?

There is nothing known as fool-proof. There aren’t enough meters in India to measure everybody’s TV viewership. For a 130-crore population, there are 55,000 meters, and that will never be able to do justice. Do we have 10 lakh meters to measure viewership? The answer is that it costs a lot of money. I think for the amount of money that the industry has invested, we have a brilliant system, and I have no complaints about the system because there is only so much that the system can do. What else will you expect it to do? If we had 50 lakh boxes, I can still understand, but we don't have those numbers. It is far better than having nothing. So, it is a directional measurement rather than an absolute measurement. For example, IRS is also a directional measurement, as they interview 3 lakh people to derive a study report. No one can expect research to be of a certain standard, which can measure minute-by-minute viewership of Indian households, it is not possible to have a measurement report with absolute numbers.

We first saw NDTV exiting from BARC and then iTV Network and Zee Media do the same. Do you think the measurement system really matters to advertisers right now?

Advertisers want to put money where the measurement is because they would at least know how many people saw it, and how many didn't. So, to that extent, it is critical. If you don't have measurement, people won't trust you with your numbers. Also, what would be the motivation for you to create content if nobody is watching you? The measurement system is not only meant for advertisers, but also for the content that the channel produces. In the absence of a measurement system, how would an editorial team know that they are doing well? How would they know if their content is being watched or not watched? If channels exit from the measurement system, then they will not know what people are watching on television.

We recently witnessed the takeover of NDTV by the Adani group. How are you looking at this development?

There is nothing to look at. I was associated with NDTV for eight years. It is a consolidation that has to happen because news is not a business that can run on a very frugal budget. The channel has to run and continue its operations, and investments will happen. I think it is always good to have competition that is strong and agile. I don't see it in any negative form.

Today, news channels are accused of aligning themselves with political parties. Do you think journalism has taken a backseat while news channels continue to polarize news pieces and prime-time debates?

That is a subjective opinion of individuals. Finally, you have to understand that if people don't want to watch you, then they won't watch you. No matter what an editor wants to broadcast as content, the power is always with the consumer. The consumer has the remote in his hand, and can always flip the channel. A news channel can go shouting all day long and can get aligned or not with anybody, but if the consumer doesn't want to watch, then it does not stand a chance. If today we are number one, it means that somebody is switching on the remote and watching Network18 channels. Nobody is forcing anybody to watch certain channels. In Bollywood, there is an audience for Govinda and on the other hand, there is an audience for Aamir Khan, both are unique in their own way. The choice is with the consumers – if they want to go and watch Aamir Khan’s film then they will watch it in the theatres, and those who don’t like him will not.

There was a lot of buzz about landing pages being used to boost BARC ratings. How do you look at the use of landing pages in the news business now?

How does it even matter? If one goes to a shop and sees a product, do you ask, how the product reached that shop? What matters is the product. More importantly, no one is forcing someone to watch a certain channel, nobody has put a gun on the consumer’s head to forcefully make that person watch a channel. As marketers, our job is to make sure that we make the content available for the audience, and then it is up to the judgement of the viewer whether to watch it or not. Again, if the viewer does not like what they see, they will flip the channel, and it will not even register in the BARC system.

Looking at the year ahead, what is the market sentiment for TV advertisements?

As long as there are people on earth, there will be advertisers, and as long as there are product manufacturers, they will need to advertise. Advertisers can stay back for a couple of months, but finally, they will have to return. If they didn't advertise during COVID, then they advertised post-COVID. There is a funding winter right now and things might be tough, but as long as people are consuming, advertisers will continue to spend money on advertising. This is why even platforms like Netflix eventually have to turn to advertising to make sure that they're able to sustain their business. 

But do you think we will see a rise in AdEx for the news genre on TV?

Of course, we will. If you look at Print, it has three lakh active advertisers in a year. Digital has about 40,000 to 50,000 advertisers a year, while television only has 15,000 advertisers a year. So, we have a long way to go, and I am always bullish about the future of advertising in India.

HistoryTV18 is coming out with the ninth season of OMG! Yeh Mera India TV18. How is the response from the audience, and what are your expectations from this season?

The expectation of the channel doesn't vary from season to season. For us, OMG! Yeh Mera India is a product of passion. It was an idea that was meant to inspire Indians, and we just wish that we could produce all 1,000 episodes in one shot, but we can't and so we have broken it into seasons. The very fact that we are in the ninth season tells you that it is a success. It is our flagship programme and the number one show for History TV18. The show has received 10 billion impressions on Digital, and 2 billion video views on all video assets for about 320 stories that we have broadcasted. OMG! Yeh Mera India is the number one home-grown show in the factual entertainment space, which has grown up to nine seasons. If we compare it with shows on National Geographic or Discovery in the factual entertainment space, we can see that they have international shows like Science of Stupid with Indian anchors.

We have seen your rivals Discovery and TV9 entering the OTT space. Why has History TV18 or TV18 as a news cluster not entered the OTT space as of now?

To me as a news person, OTT is more of an entertainment space, while news has to be live. So, to make news OTT doesn’t make any sense. The days of walled gardens are over. Today, people remember stories, and may not remember where they saw them because people don’t remember brands. It doesn't really matter whether or not we have an OTT of our own. For example, 7-8 seasons of OMG! Yeh Mera India is available on Discovery+ as we don’t mind our content getting discovered on other platforms. The platform doesn’t matter to us, as people recognise OMG! Yeh Mera India very well.

Production of documentaries and shows like OMG! Yeh Mera India is a costly affair in the infotainment space, unlike TV soaps that in comparison have a low production cost. How much revenue do infotainment channels contribute to the growth of Network18?

For Network18, the revenue from factual entertainment is not a very big number, but it is still significant enough to make the investment on its own. The channel has been profitable for quite a few years now, and it continues to be so. So, our business objectives and content related to it are being achieved. We have been delivering seasons of OMG! Yeh Mera India even during COVID. As long as we have a commitment to our audiences, we will bring the show, and it will have inspirational stories that matter the most. If you talk about the revenue proportion compared to news channels, there are 21 of them. History TV18 has two channels, one is HD and the other SD. So, we cannot really compare both genres, but it is doing fairly well and is profitable. We will keep investing in what we are doing every year.

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Edelweiss General Insurance rebrands itself as Zuno GI

The company has launched a consumer study to understand millennial and genZ’s awareness

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 5:49 PM   |   3 min read


Edelweiss General Insurance has announced its new identity as Zuno General Insurance Limited (Zuno GI). Zuno GI is a new age digital insurer with an aspiration to reimagine and redefine Insurance to make it easy, friendly, and transparent. It is built on the premise that any kind of general insurance should be simple, easy, and straightforward. 

The name brings alive the company’s passion, enthusiasm, and singular focus on providing customers with the most convenient and hassle-free experience powered by tech that’s responsive and intuitive. The name and identity represents the young, innovative, approachable, digital native and upbeat personality of the brand and resonates with the Millennial and GenZ audience. 

Along with the new identity, the company has launched a consumer study titled ‘Usage Based Insurance: Decoding Awareness, Perception and Behaviour’. The study was done to understand Millennial and GenZ’s awareness, understanding and consideration for UBI. Zuno General Insurance has been fore fronting the concept of usage-based insurance (UBI) in India for almost three years now. 

Key highlights of the research:

  •    65% respondents feel that people in India are safe drivers.
  • 90% respondents want to get a driving score that indicates how safe they drive.
  • 58% respondents are aware of usage-based insurance.
  • 70% respondents have strong intention to buy usage-based insurance over other insurance options.
  • ü  Rewards for safe driving’ & ‘Driving score’ are the top two influential factors to opt for usage-based insurance.
  • ü  76% respondents strongly believe that getting a driving score will help improve their driving skills.
  • ü  95% respondents believe rewarding safe driving will positively influence driving behavior. 

Speaking at the launch, Shanai Ghosh, MD & CEO, Zuno General Insurance, said, “Zuno GI is all about reimagining Insurance to make it easy, transparent, and friendly using three pillars of customer experience, innovation, and digital delivery platforms. We will always listen to our customers and offer them smart, simple solutions in the most convenient and hassle-free way. We put this aim to action with the UBI report where we sought to assess the understanding and perception of UBI among young, mobile savvy Indian customers. The findings have been extremely insightful and has validated our conviction about the potential of UBI in India, encouraging us to continue investing in this category that we pioneered in 2020.” 

“Telematics is a silver lining for motor insurance industry in India. It allows us to offer personalized solutions and experience to our customers. Given the exponential growth of smartphone users in the country, telematics-based solutions will appeal to the digital natives empowering them to see and influence the pricing they get on Motor Insurance. With the findings of the report, we wish to drive awareness of new concepts like UBI which will not only link premium to your usage and driving but also encourage safe driving practices in the country”, Shanai added. 

Zuno GI was the first in the country to launch usage-based insurance using mobile telematics and has been developing this category since 2020. Last year, the company launched SWITCH, India’s first mobile telematics based, on-demand motor insurance product. The policy is an app that shows customers the savings that is accumulating because of good driving for every drive. SWITCH encourages people to become safer drivers which is good for their own safety, their family and overall, for the society. 

Zuno General Insurance conducted the survey in eight cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and Ahmedabad, in collaboration with Crownit.

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