Why are e-commerce majors missing in action from World Cup so far?

Even as e-commerce ad spends on TV are estimated to grow, the World Cup, one of the biggest properties on TV, has seen limited participation from larger e-commerce players so far

e4m by Collin Furtado
Updated: Mar 5, 2015 8:20 AM
Why are e-commerce majors missing in action from World Cup so far?

E-commerce has emerged as a big spending category last year and as per Pitch-Madison Advertising Outlook 2015 report, growth in the advertising industry was primarily fuelled by ecommerce and Lok Sabha and State assembly elections. E-commerce is further expected to continue to grow their ad spends in 2015, especially of Print and TV. While on print e-commerce ad spends are expected to grow by 155%, ecommerce TV ad spends are expected to grow by 371.1% in 2015, according to the report.

Ecommerce brands such as Pepperfry are expected to spend around Rs.100-150 crore on marketing activities through 2015 and early 2016. According to senior media planners ecommerce is expected to contribute 10-12% to overall adex in 2015. Similarly, Praveen Sinha, Co-founder and MD, Jabong had expected to see a 20-30% rise in ecommerce ad spends in 2015. While ShopClues is expected to spend Rs.70-100 crore on mass media marketing campaigns, which is a 4-5 times over last year’s spends.

Are e-commerce players giving World Cup a skip?

Although World Cup is largely viewed as a desirable property to win maximum eyeballs, we haven’t seen many e-commerce brands active on the World Cup so far. E-commerce brands as broadcast sponsors for the World Cup include YepMe.com, Paytm, PolicyBazaar.com, Cricbuzz.com and CarTrade.com. However, major ecommerce brands such as Amazon, Snapdeal, Myntra, Jabong and Flipkart which were big spenders on the Indian Premiere League (IPL) 7 last year are conspicuously absent. 

According to Nitin Agarwal, Senior Marketing Director, ShopClues.com, the reason for this was the question marks on India’s performance prior to the tournament. “No one was really expecting to see India perform well in the World Cup. Their form overseas has been really bad recently,” he said. He further said that if you see the TV ads this time even the advertiser spread has not been so much. There have been just a few advertisers who have ad spots playing continuously across the matches for the tournament. “Now that India has done well, there might be a bit of a knee jerk reaction but most of these deals are already closed 1-2 months in advance so I don’t see much impact,” he said.

Another reason for e-commerce companies to give the World Cup a skip could also be the high pricing of advertising (Rs.5 lakh for a 10-second spot). Praveen Sinha, Founder and MD of Jabong said, “The costs for the World Cup are prohibitive. We do see impact and brand recall since it is a big ticket event but these days there are multiple options available to reach audiences on a national level.”

Rohan Bhargava, Co-Founder, CashKaro.com said, “I personally think it is not the price. If you look at the funding that e-commerce has seen money is not necessarily a challenge. Now my gut towards this might be that in a World Cup scenario India is playing 7 games in stage 1 to get to the quarters and three more games post that, part of the question is that is everyone following every game? Probably not.”

There are also e-commerce players that have not chosen the World Cup as they felt that their target group can be reached through investing in a variety of other content on TV.

Ambareesh Murty, Founder, Pepperfry.com, “More than half of my customers are women and therefore, for me, affinity can be driven through multiple methods. Sports is just one of them but I can drive greater affinity through other programming on TV and therefore we have included those in our mix as opposed to cricket.”

Are other e-commerce players finding IPL a more attractive destination?

Another reason could also be that many ecommerce companies see the Indian Premiere League (IPL) as a better investment option. The previous IPL edition (IPL 7) saw heavy e-commerce investment. Brands such as Amazon, Quikr, Flipkart, Paytm and GoDaddy were first time investors in the tournament (IPL 7: E-commerce companies bet big on sponsorships). While Amazon India had invested almost Rs.25-30 crore on IPL-7, Quikr had spent around Rs.12-14 crore as principle sponsorship.

More e-commerce companies are expected to set their sights on IPL this year. Sinha says, “In our case, sports is a part of our brand strategy but we are looking at other properties like IPL, all major marathons, etc. to get the same reach. The IPL might have played a small part in e-commerce players not spending on the World Cup but I don’t think it was the main reason. The IPL could be a big event for e-commerce, especially as it was last year but I really cannot say.”

CarTrade.com is one of the ecommerce brands that is on board for the World Cup.

Vinay Sanghvi, CEO, CarTrade.com says, “It could be because people think the IPL is coming they are under-spending now. But we have seen very good response from what we have taken for the World Cup. But it is possible that people may be saving their money for the IPL. Also one of the things is that the India games are 6 or 7 (till the quarter finals), that may be one of the reasons.

Similarly, Agarwal said, “IPL will definitely be a hot property as the TG is completely relevant to us. We are planning some activities ourselves, not on a big scale though, which we have to finalize.”

Bhargava too felt that the IPL will be attracting a lot of e-commerce brands. “You have got 7 games (India games prior to quarter finals on World Cup) versus 2 games a day on IPL, part of it is that. When you go into media buying you probably need to commit ahead for the full duration of the World Cup,” he said. He added, “I think already there is a lot of talk around the big ecommerce guys trying to see how they can participate more in this. IPL has become really prominent in terms of value competing with the likes of NBA, NFL, English Premiere League, etc. This is only 8 years of IPL vs. some of the other very old international leagues, so we can expect this to grow bigger and bigger.”

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