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In-depth: Viewership from landing page – how does it impact advertisers? finds out what advertisers and media planners make of the landing page viewership issue

India’s top advertisers aren’t wary of advertising on channels that are getting their reach through using landing page placement. The advertisers said that most campaigns have the objective to reach the consumers and they have no problem in going even with channels using landing page placement, if they could provide a decent reach with time spent.

Hoping the same, several broadcasters have already started investing in landing page to garner high viewership. Though it comes at a massive cost but it helps them reach a larger audience base.

“It’s like they’re sampling their content to audiences. If they are somehow able to hold the viewers’ attention with their content or forced viewing by fixing the set-top box with the help of distributors, their job is almost done,” said an industry expert.

However, the average time spent (ATS) is the factor advertisers take into account when they buy media and broadcasters need to get this right as well. According to BK Rao, Marketing Head, Parle Products, “Reaching out to a certain audience first and foremost will be very important to have a reach and then followed up with the time spent. Wherever we get a good time spend, we will have a presence on those channels. So, it is always a mix of reach and time spent.”

“Also taking the landing page will be expensive but if they are getting better viewership it will definitely lead to the very high possibility of taking such channels into our planning,” Rao added.

But does high reach with much less time-spent benefit a brand? It is a very tricky question because normally brands take minimum views as well, R. Venkatasubramanian, National Head of Investments, Havas Media India, responded. “Basically, a person has to watch the channel for a minimum of two to three minutes, so it is not like as the person we are calculating for 30 seconds, the person has to be there for a particular minute then will start calculating as watch time. So for us to plan the person has to watch the channel for some minutes,” he said.

For Sudipto Chatterjee, General Manager, MediaCom, it really doesn’t matter whether the reach is coming from the landing page if the campaign objective is to drive pure reach. “After all the brand has to reach the critical audience mass with a limited media budget. So, if any Hindi premium news channel is using the landing page which is helping to increase its audience base then it’s really driving better efficiency in terms of cost per incremental reach point.”

However, Chatterjee cautioned that for a premium English news channel, while there will be an increase in overall reach numbers of the channel, in entirety the scenario can be misleading. “There will be lots of non-intended viewers of the English news genre which brands might not want to purposefully target,” he said.

But if the objective is to sales or ROIs then it is all about GRPs and I don’t know how many of these channels will be able to garner GRPs, said Mayank Bhatnagar, Senior Vice President, Carat. “The channels which are actually suffering are long tail channels with really low ratings and it will be difficult for them to feature on the top in the viewership. So, for such channels it makes sense. Having said that, since the number of these channels in terms of GRPs is so small I don’t think it will impact greatly that it will suddenly change the situation,” he said.

“I haven't done much homework but I feel that it is a very tactical thing. People will land on the page but if the content is not good then they will move on to other channels which they were used to watching,” Bhatnagar added.

From an advertiser’s perspective, it does not matter how a channel is fetching the numbers. BARC India does not flag any information about the impact of landing in the viewership numbers.

For Chatterjee, it really doesn’t matter where the reach is coming from as long as his client doesn’t have to pay any premium for incremental reach. He said, “We need to remember that only one or two channels are really using the landing page to square up their reach number with the closest competition and that too in selective regions. You see in any media plan there are generally 50 to 60 channels being selected and inclusion of one or two channels doesn’t really affect the overall media plan’s impact.”

Important for BARC to segregate viewership Advertisers said that it was important for them to get a complete picture on viewership while planning media spends.

Bhatnagar said, “Right now BARC doesn't have a feature of segregating landing page viewership from normal viewership, so media planners can't differentiate. The channels reflecting higher reach and viewership will always feature in the plan because that will drive efficiencies and effectiveness. I feel, overall, if the channel is getting a  higher reach then it is good for my media plan but it is difficult for me to differentiate whether this channel is taken on the landing page or not and if it is on the landing page then how many MSOs they have taken. So, it is an uphill task from that sense already. There are so many channels, so the media planner task is so chaotic and adding one more element will further create confusion.”

Rao added, “Before we never looked at landing page but now that this is happening we will have to look at it as this is going to change the dynamics of advertising. It will be very important for us to check what is the plan of the GEC, movie or music channel.”

Advertisers said the viewership of a channel could be low even if it has a good reach. One needs to know micro details while planning media.

Venkatasubramanian said, “How BARC is reporting to us is very important, we can’t check how much of viewership is coming through a landing page or organically. For example if a channel has done a tie-up with multiple MSOs so that when you are there on the landing page you get 40 seconds, 50 seconds or one minute. Now, in that particular time if I am watching it or not, it calculates, so that is the way it is. As a planner we can’t see how it is done, so we have to see the reach factor, we have to look at whatever number is thrown. We can’t put the filter into this, so BARC will have to take care of how to give us the number as we can’t judge on this.”

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