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How ads on local cable networks and set-top box ensures deeper reach for brands

In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Prabeer Patankar explains the advantages of set-top box advertising and how brands can go for micro-targeting using this method

Prabeer Patankar

With Bigg Boss, IPL, and other calendar television properties returning to screens, brands are eager to reach out to consumers after months of low communication due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, these properties are equally expensive and the advertising window might be limited. During such a scenario, set-top box advertising can provide brands with a good alternative and help increase their reach in local markets, says Prabeer Patankar, President and National Sales head of Update Geotarget.

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According to Patankar, there are 197 million households in India that get their satellite signal through DTH or a wired connection through a cable operator. Over 120 million TV Homes are solely operating through wired connections and Update offers solutions in this domain. He says when brands choose local cable channels and set-top boxes to advertise, they can be assured of reaching the last-mile audiences.

Update Geotarget is providing brands with different products to amplify the messages. They have set-top box properties such as EPG insertion ads, boot-up screens, volume bar and menu bar branding. Asked how these ads are placed, he said, “When you change channels, you get a small box called EPG that gives information about the channel you are watching. These spaces are available for branding. These set-top box properties are channel agnostic, that means any TV user on 120+ million TV HHs who turns on his STB or uses navigation button to change channels or volume will be exposed to the branding, irrespective of channel he is watching.


He said they have 2,500 cable channels across the country operated by local operators, which are mostly hyper-local. For these channels, they have another product that places 10-60 seconds ads on the screen.

“For example, a brand is pan-India but might need a regional push from UP or Bihar markets. For them, we have geo-target plans for a particular market. We offer them a selection of these 2,500 channels either through FCT or aston bands which run during the programme. We also have longer format advertising for these channels, called ‘Brand Converse’. These are 10-15 mins. slots available across News & Movie channels which brand can use to amplify brand stories or any other content they have on their digital platforms like FB, YouTube etc.”

He said a brand can use these to amplify any on-ground activity or messaging meant for a local area.

Patankar said compared to properties such as Bigg Boss, IPL and KBC, their prices are economical. “There are two categories of channels available on our platform. One is what we call a flagship channel, which is clearly identified as the ones belonging to MSOs and cable operators. Usually, they are branded by MSO and cable operators. They cover a large area and are trackable. The rates for these channels are Rs 60-65 per 10 seconds. There are smaller channels with a smaller reach, usually in local languages. These are around Rs30-35 per 10 seconds,” he said.

“There are large MSOs covering large geographical areas such as Den, which controls 1.5 crore households in the country. Their main control room is in Noida from there they cover the entire Delhi area, up 60% of UP and 20-25% of Rajasthan. However, if you enter Varanasi, there is a sub network called Den Kashi which covers the district. These channels are at different levels but there is also third-party content transmission that goes on television. These providers provide content in local languages and dialects like Punjabi, Maithili, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Sindhi and Marwadi,” he explained.

Asked how these deals are carried out with operators he said, they have blanket deals across the country with MSOs. With other local channels, they aggregate channels according to the needs of the client.

“We understand what the client needs and suggest a bunch of channels either from the same operator or a bunch of operators. Each of those channels is separately imported from wherever they are played out from and offer a single common rate to the client,” he said.

Asked about the ROI that brands can expect from such advertising, he said the best way of looking at this is the kind of reach one can get. He said when TAM measured Cable Regional, the channel had 17%-20% channel share across genres, this means that approx. 20% of time spent on TV was on Cable Regional channels.

Citing a Set Top box solution example, he said when Indica Hair colour, a brand based in Chennai, wanted to launch a new variant with hair colour shampoo in their P1 markets, they chose EPG on the launch day of IPL, wherein CSK played their first match with RCB. The brand activity was done in both these markets with focus on regional communication and three creatives were used. High-impact, high relevance to ensure instant recall on the date. EPG was visible across all channels available on STB (satellite, cable and DD), whatever channel was subscribed by the viewer.

“This time there will be a lot of switching between channels because KBC, Big Boss & IPL are aired during the same period. People are watching or interested in different things and will keep switching between sports, news, and GECs. Hence, a property like EPG will really make sense. During ads there is a possibility that people will mute the channel, so volume bar branding here makes a lot of sense,” he said.

According to Patankar, the brands that are already investing in IPL use this medium to amplify their messaging. “Technically during an IPL season, we have a lot of queries from the brands already participating in the IPL bandwagon and want to maximise their reach and screen time.  For example, if a brand is already a sponsor of RCB, they will ask us for properties in the Bangalore region. Flipkart & Phonepe have previously taken set top box branding during IPL, however, they primarily use this medium to garner additional reach in their focus markets,” he said.

He said this year being slow they have had only about 50 odd unique clients active between April-Aug 2020, however, in the pre cursor to IPL they had queries from more than 80 unique clients and have 23 of them active during IPL season. Online services category has had very good traction from Updates product offerings. This year they have seen traction particularly from Edutech clients which is in line with what we have observed in IPL so far.


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