Why mobile is giving TV a run for marketers’ money this cricket season

Ajit Pawar, Director Of Partnerships, APAC, Adjust, writes tapping into mobile advertising means accessing not one but a multitude of users’ connected screens and devices. Marketers who have yet to be convinced of the benefits of mobile and are hesitant to invest need only consider India’s soaring smartphone growth.

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Ajit Pawar

Ajit Pawar

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Delhi: Last year saw India’s biggest cricket tournament become free to watch online for the first time, opening the floodgates of opportunity for marketers. Previously confined to television screens, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is now available on every mobile device with millions tuning in to watch the Chennai Super Kings’ stunning victory last year. For marketers, the smartphone represents a chance to connect with audiences wherever they are and their eyes firmly on the latest match score.

In 2023, 32 million people watched the IPL on the official OTT platform, beating the previous record of 25.3 million in 2019. Remarkably, more than 80% of these viewers watched the matches on their mobiles. 

The IPL is perhaps the most failsafe way to capture the attention and engagement of a large portion of the Indian population. As a sport capable of generating heights of joy and despair across the nation, cricket has carved a huge space in the applications market, with many sport-focused apps engaging mobile fans daily. 

The effect of the IPL is evident in users’ mobile behaviour. For example, session lengths on news apps increased from 8.62 minutes to 9.63 minutes during the IPL. Streaming platforms, meanwhile, saw their average session length increase from 20.24 minutes to 32.48 minutes during the annual tournament.

IPL fans often divide their attention between TV and mobile, staying highly active on social media while matches are ongoing. Even when gathered around a big screen, fans frequently use their smartphone as a second screen, either for social media, messaging, browsing merchandise or even ordering food. 

Marketers who have yet to be convinced of the benefits of mobile and are hesitant to invest need only consider India’s soaring smartphone growth. According to Statista data, In the last ten years, the smartphone market has experienced meteoric growth, now sitting at a penetration of almost 75%. This is predicted to reach 87% in the next five years – a penetration capturing over one billion people. 

Marketers should note that this growth is happening faster among young people, arguably the most sought-after brand demographic. This is highly applicable as India has a higher proportion of Millennials and Gen Z individuals. Although its potential value in India is still emerging, from a global vantage point, the mobile marketing market is expected to hit US$337.8 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 22.9%. 

A quantifiable ROI

The skyrocketing growth of smartphones in India, offers marketers a prime opportunity to leverage mobile marketing as part of a wider omnichannel strategy during the cricket season.

Digital advertising is renowned for its targeting ability, surpassing traditional linear television. While traditional TV relies on audience estimations and contextual guessing, digital and mobile advertising draws on multiple sources of data, including location, demographics, interests and online behavour. Whether it’s web browsing, applications or social media, mobile marketing enables precise targeting that delivers a better, more quantifiable return on investment (ROI).

With app campaigns, marketers can measure their success by tracking downloads, installs and subscription conversions. Moreover, marketers can glean insights into the number of users opening an app, the comparative performance of pre-install campaigns and campaigns that drove high-value users.

Precise targeting also enables marketers to inject personalisation into their mobile campaigns. With mobile devices, advertisers can gather a wealth of data about individual users, such as browsing history, app usage and location. These can inform essential cricket campaign components from users’ preferred language, team and even their favourite player. Indeed, location-based targeting is even more critical in the highly competitive field of Indian cricket. 

Tapping into mobile advertising means accessing not one but a multitude of users’ connected screens and devices. Most tech-savvy Indians will have more than just a smartphone -they have tablets, smart TVs and even smart watches – all of which can reach consumers or connect their location and interests. 

Lastly, marketers who adopt mobile advertising during cricket season will benefit from real-time optimisation of their campaigns. Amid the frenzy of the IPL, for example, marketers can track the performance of their campaigns in real-time using analytics and mobile measurement tools. 

The foundation has been laid for Indian marketers to join the excitement and conversations around cricket, especially during the IPL. All they need to do is remain mindful of different consumers’ preferences before, during and after matches, especially their state of mind after their team’s performance. 

This will help inform your mobile marketing content and ensure a campaign that meets the customer’s expectations and catches their eye. Creatives and communication must be compelling and seamlessly integrated into their cricket season experience. With these all in mind, marketers will undoubtedly perfect their delivery and celebrate the wickets and innings with the rest of the nation.