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Bumper IPL viewership boosts advertisers’ confidence; many plan to enter mid-season

The various advantages that brands claim to have gained during IPL 2023 are quicker outreach, higher return on investment (ROI), improved co-television viewership, and heightened brand recognition, among others

The rise in television viewership for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 has made it an ideal platform for brands to establish themselves, according to some of the top advertisers in the country. As per them, many brands are expected to tap into the potential of the tournament in the upcoming matches, particularly on TV.

The various advantages that brands claim to have gained during IPL 2023 are quicker outreach, higher return on investment (ROI), improved co-television viewership, and heightened brand recognition, among others.

Moreover, for visibility and reach, brands said that they would monitor their presence across different mediums and measure the audience reach and impressions generated through these channels.

Rajiv Dubey

Rajiv Dubey, Head of Media at Dabur, said that IPL is the best platform for a new brand to establish itself in a vast and diverse country like India.

As per Dubey, the splitting of TV and digital has helped both platforms as TV has seen a growth in viewership of approximately 30% this season (Source: BARC match-on-match viewership).  

The digital medium has also witnessed an unprecedented rise in viewership via JioCinema and it has opened the cricket ecosystem for all sizes of advertisers and viewers. It's been a win-win for both - sports and broadcasters too, he added. 

BK Rao

BK Rao, Senior Category Head at Parle Products, also said that there will be lots of brands which will realise the potential of the tournament in the coming matches and there is a high likelihood of new ones entering the IPL scene, particularly on TV.

Shashank Srivastava

Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director – Sales and Marketing at Maruti Suzuki, said IPL tends to be an attractive launch platform for new brands, irrespective of categories, because of the massive visibility it brings, the excitement associated with the event and the positive rub-off on brand salience metrics for emerging and established brands. 

“Given this, many companies/brands hesitate to turn down the opportunity of being present on IPL. Also, we understand there are some new brands who are leveraging this IPL season for their specific launch campaigns,” he added. 

Neelima Burra

Neelima Burra, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Luminous Power Technologies, said that consumer brands are perpetually looking for brand visibility through well-planned properties, like IPL which has massive reach and impact. 

She went on to add that digital media is getting very innovative and offers a plethora of options to advertise, especially with Connected TV homes. With Covid largely behind us, brands are gearing up to use this medium fully, the competition is always healthy and with more brands advertising, it's becoming a huge platform where celebrities, cricket players, all add to the excitement.

The IPL’s cumulative reach for live broadcast on television has reached 409 million in the first 29 matches, which is 30% higher than last year, according to BARC data. Star Sports has already achieved a 10% higher cumulative reach in the mid of the tournament than the last season's full reach.

Moreover, the 16th season of IPL has recorded the highest-ever reach in Hindi Speaking Markets (HSM). The league has also seen a 24% growth in TVR over the last year, even after three weeks.

Speaking on what makes the IPL such a popular platform for advertisers, Dabur’s Dubey stated that IPL offers a unique set of light viewers who are not easily reachable through media. These light viewers have a very fragmented viewership pattern. IPL works as a unifier of sorts and brings them together under one banner and keeps them engaged for almost two months. 

“There can’t be a better opportunity for brands to launch or get a quick reach throughout the country than IPL. Because of interesting games, engaging format, short ad breaks it has become a very engaging sports phenomenon throughout the world,” he added.  

Luminous’ Burra stated that one needs to look at it from a holistic angle as the league has all the elements to make it impactful and millions of consumers watch it. 

“There is excitement in the air. The timing of IPL, seasonality, franchise title sponsorship and related royalty deliverables also add to a greater impact on brand salience. Viewers are hooked on watching their favourite players and also grab the opportunity to meet the cricketers through contests. Hence, advertising in IPL becomes far more engaging along with reach and frequency driving saliency,” she stated. 

As per Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava, IPL provides unparalleled reach on both TV and digital, reportedly reaching 350-400 million people on TV (40% of TV viewers) and 40% of mobile internet (broadband) users in an average year. 

“As such, it is an ideal platform to increase brand visibility or boost brand recall, be it for new brands or established players. Apart from the huge audience that tunes into IPL at a fixed time every day, the spurt in conversations on social media around IPL can have a positive impact too,” Srivastava said. 

“IPL is also a great platform for brands to bring out specific creatives/ads that link the brand in a meaningful way with audiences and cricket, leading to ‘memory structures’ that are enduring. For example, the Vodafone Zuzu ads bring back instant recall even after many years and Swiggy’s app innovation last year that offered discounts during IPL hours is also quite memorable,” he added. 

What’s an effective marketing strategy for brands during IPL?

As per Dabur’s Dubey, since the engagement of viewers is very strong with IPL, any campaign with Call to Action (CTA) lead messaging will work well. “That’s why you see most brands present on IPL doing CTA lead advertising,” he added. 

Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava said, “Our marketing team is closely evaluating both linear and digital mediums to suitably leverage the remaining season, for our new launches.”

Meanwhile, Luminous’ Burra said as a part of a one-month-long campaign, #CricketMeinNoPowerCuts, the brand is running multiple contests where fans can participate and get a chance to win. The brand is also collaborating with multiple influencers to create content around the campaign. 

“As fans are the primary inspiration behind this campaign, a contest is being run where a few fans will get a chance to feature in the next ad of this campaign, by sharing their advice for the cricketers,” she added. 

Saroj Panigrahi

According to Saroj Panigrahi, Senior Vice-President, My11Circle, their 2022 IPL campaign led to excellent player engagement on their platform. 

“This year we have gone even bigger than 2022 and introduced a major campaign where cricket aficionados will be able to get up close and personal with their favourite cricket players in the series ‘Bade Se Bada,’ as well as the interesting series ‘Out of the Park’ and ‘Locker Room Tales’,” Panigrahi stated. 

“In terms of our marketing strategy, our ATL campaign has been launched on Star Sports and JioCinema, and apart from that, we have an exciting array of content-driven social media campaigns on YouTube and Facebook that will keep our fans engaged. These will also be buffered with performance and influencer campaigns across multiple digital platforms. Additionally, there will be content-driven engagement including contests, trivia and more to keep our social media platforms buzzing with excitement,” he added.

There has been an overall increase in viewership, engagement and adoption of IPL

As per Dabur’s Dubey, the game of cricket has emerged as the winner, irrespective of whether TV or digital wins the race. He said that both have demonstrated phenomenal increases in viewership, engagement etc. The revenue numbers will be best known to them, but if this viewership trend continues, both TV and digital broadcasters will laugh their way to the bank.

Striking a similar tone, Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava said, “With IPL on TV surpassing the previous season reach in double-digits and similar levels of growth seen on digital, we are now almost in the midst of the season. We hope the overall season does well which will be a win-win for everyone including advertisers and media houses.” 

Charu Malhotra

On the other hand, Charu Malhotra, VP and Head of Marketing for Hindware, said, "We have seen a rise in digital media consumption, offering digital rights separately allows media companies to tap into this growing market and reach audiences that may not be watching on traditional television.”

Additionally, by offering separate deals for digital and television rights, media companies can attract different types of buyers and potentially generate more revenue overall. Overall, the splitting of media rights can be a smart strategy for companies looking to maximise their revenue and reach, she added. 

Luminous’ Burra said that both mediums are growing. However, the digital platform is growing faster, with Jio TV this year. 

"The growing popularity of the tournament on both TV and digital platforms is a reflection of the popularity of cricket in India and IPL's innovative format. While TV maintains its mass appeal, digital has seen tremendous incremental growth over the years, creating new advertising avenues and formats for brands to connect with fans,” Panigrahi stated.

Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava said that brands majorly benefit in terms of an increase in overall salience - frequency of viewers’, the exposure to brand messaging jumps multi-fold during the 60-day tournament.

“Brand mentions on social media increase the buzz around new ads; Search trends for brand keywords see a spike during this time, all of which results in both a quantitative and qualitative increase in brand recall,” he stated. 

“During IPL we have observed high TVRs (compared to any impact property) helped faster reach build-up for our campaigns in a very short time compared to any other long-form GEC impact shows, considering the higher affinity across HSM and regional audience. Also, with reference to TVRs, IPL in our target group has been delivering comparable high TVRs and reach both in urban and rural viewers,” he added. 

Luminous’ Burra said that a platform like IPL has huge tangible results on brands. Besides visibility, and creating awareness and recall, the core message of the brand is communicated in a topical way. Multiple franchise assets and deliverables enable brands to drive a conversation with consumers and channel partners. It also leads to great engagement in employees and influencers.

Poulomi Roy

According to Poulomi Roy, Chief Marketing Officer at RSH Global, their brand Joy, advertised on IPL last year on both TV and digital platforms and they went ahead with only TV this year.

“During IPL, the key performance indicators (KPI) that we have set for ourselves was that we wanted a media property which gives us a lot of reach. So, we knew that cricket and GECs would give maximum reach. IPL has helped us get noticed in a more impactful way. So, our agency helped us understand the bare minimum spends that we need to do in order to be visible at a certain level. Now, the question that we asked ourselves was if we want to use this money to ride on the impactful property for 2.5 months or do we spread this across a longer period of time in the media?” Roy said.

“So, we took a very holistic call since we wanted to create reach and engagement for our brand in general. We also saw that our Co-TV viewership was increasing. Our brand KPI was to drive more people irrespective of gender to know about Joy. This property has tick marks on all the KPIs. It has worked pretty well for us. The brand awareness has certainly increased manifold,” she added. 

Parle’s Rao said, “We have always been a firm believer of advertising on IPL and this year has been no different. On one side, there are numbers (viewership) that are being released by the third party, BARC, and then there are numbers that I am getting from my channel partner and all my business associations so that is something that I would rely a lot more upon.”

“I am getting exceptionally encouraging responses. Brands who have advertised on IPL are also getting exceptional results on ROIs,” he added.

As per Hindware's Malhotra, “While this is a relatively long-term brand-building exercise, we will evaluate the success of our IPL team partnerships and the growth of Hindware based on various metrics, including brand visibility, reach, engagement, and sales impact.”

For brand visibility and reach, Hindware will monitor its presence across different mediums, such as TV, digital, OTT, FM, print, and OOHs, and measure the audience reach and impressions generated through these channels.

“We will also track the engagement and response received through our social media posts and campaigns around the IPL season. We may also use market research to understand the impact of our IPL partnerships on brand perception and purchase intent among our target audience. Overall, our aim is to leverage the IPL partnerships to maximise brand exposure and generate brand love, and we will use a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics to evaluate our performance,” she added.

Apprehensions around digital traffic metrics, call for third-party ratification

RSH Global’s Roy said that they chose to stick only with TV this year due to apprehensions about how much traffic the brand will receive on the digital platform.

“Moreover, we had a feeling that probably this time there might be a situation where the viewer might not have a very seamless viewing experience. So, it was more like a wait-and-watch game for this year. Otherwise, it's always good to have a TV+digital combination to advertise,” she added. 

While speaking about the viewership numbers being provided by the digital rights holder for the league, Parle’s Rao stated that there needs to be a third party ratifying the number of app downloads that have happened. If there is a third party, it becomes much easier to speak about the viewership numbers. 

“At the same time, I would like to say that digital also has brought in additional viewers to the sports,” he added. 

Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava said that IPL over the years has emerged as one of the highest-ranked media events across the world and it also has comparable reach and viewership across urban and rural audiences.

“However, from an advertiser's perspective, increasing cost of rights for media houses along with the need for a brand (who plans to leverage IPL) to stand out in host of brands advertising during IPL, is pushing up the cost of association with the sport. For mediums like TV and digital, IPL helps to expand their viewership base as well,” he added.

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