PMMAO 2011 TV REVIEW : The idiot box becomes intelligent

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After the slowdown year 2009, the year 2010 was a year of optimism and growth for the TV industry.

According to the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2011, the TV medium grew at a phenomenal rate of 24 per cent – 9 percentage points ahead of the expected growth.

In an ad pie worth Rs 23,646 crore, television commands the highest share of Rs 10,539 crore, a huge gain of Rs 2,038 crore. However, in terms of share in the ad pie the medium has lost one percentage point in the ad pie since 2009. Despite that, at 44.5 per cent, TV maintains its number one position amongst all mediums, a position it gained only last year.


The fight for numbers

It was also a year, when Star Plus bounced back to its No 1 position, dethroning Colors, in the first half of the year on the back of some fresh programming. And as the year proceeded, the channel further strengthened its leadership position in the genre. Kevin Vaz, President – Sales, STAR India, says, “The ad revenues have been very robust this year as the top categories like FMCG, telecom, automobile, and white goods have shown a very good growth. All these categories have had lot many launches, either through new players or new brands from their portfolio. At the same time, most of our network channels have performed very well by way of viewership, thus leading to a very strong revenue growth.”

In June, the channel also went for a brand refresh. The channel launched a new tagline ‘Rishta Wahi, Soch Nayi’, to further deepen its bond with viewers. Star Plus’s logo changed from blue to a Ruby Star. Talking about the brand refresh Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India, said, “The overarching defining value of the refreshed Star Plus is ‘Nayi Soch’ – Fresh Perspectives, which will now reflect in everything Star Plus will do, from the point of creating content, to creating brand solutions for advertisers, to adding value to our distributors, stakeholders, employees, and reflecting in the way it lives its life and builds its business.”

Another surprise was Sony from Multi Screen Media (MSM), which was almost written off a couple of years ago. The channel gained points slowly but steadily, in 2010, and emerged as a strong No 4 , giving Zee TV a tough fight, even getting to the No 3 position in certain weeks.

Ajit Thakur, Business Head, Sony, says “The advertising scenario has been very good for us in 2010 and

it is simply because of our ratings that the advertisers’ response too has been good.”

Imagine TV has also strengthened its position. Nikhil Madhok, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications, Imagine TV, says, “For Imagine, the year has been even better from an advertising revenue point of view. We continued to monetise our content well and we have grown at a rate significantly higher than the industry average.”


The spendthrifts

TV works best for categories that need to reach out to the largest possible consumer base  repeatedly. And that’s why for most large consumer product categories, TV constitutes the largest chunk of their marketing spend. On GECs, FMCG (FMCG household, FMCG Impulse and FMCG Personal Care) leads the spends by far, followed by telecom sector and automobiles. For telecom and automobiles the level of activity was unprecedented. Telecom services have been a high spender on TV for the last few years but 2010 saw telecom handsets getting bigger on TV, thanks to mushrooming Indian brands like Micromax, Karbon, Lava etc. Shashin Devsare, Executive Director, Karbonn Mobiles, says, “In the past, Karbonn has extensively utilised television as a medium, to create saliency for the brand and we look forward to continue that momentum. We plan to get even more aggressive with fresh initiatives to ramp up our operations and aim to double our sales by the first quarter of the next financial year.”

The top two advertisers on TV were telecom brands – Airtel and Vodafone. HUL’s Fair & Lovely Multivitamin follows at No 3, while another telecom service provider, Idea Cellular, is placed at No 4.

The marketing budgets of many auto brands too are skewed towards television. Shashank Srivastava, Chief General Manager – Marketing, Maruti Suzuki, says, “If you exclude the tactical advertising at local level and  see only the brand building part, from that perspective TV is much more important than press and our expenditures reflect just that. So the corporate level marketing spends are 65 per cent on television now.”

Srivastava agrees that over the last three to four years the change in advertising budgets has certainly been in the favour of television. He says, “Three years ago, our expenditure even for the brand building purpose was at 65 per cent for press and 30 per cent for television… which has actually reversed now. And that has happened in the last three-four years. This can be credited to increased cable and digital homes and also increase in number of channels.”

In 2010 alone, there have been over 80 new channel additions and the total number of channels in the country is currently 552. In 2007, the total number of channels was 205.


The ‘I’ qoutient

Increasing number of brands created a lot of clutter in the market and that’s what pushed brands to think beyond the 30-second spots. Innovation became the buzz word as it accentuates focused communication to the target audience. While innovation comes at a premium, more and more advertisers came forward to experiment in order to break the clutter and achieve high impact. Also, special interest channels like Discovery, Nickelodean, Cartoon Network, etc. were high on innovation quotient than GECs. Sample this: for a kids channel, innovations may fetch a premium in the band of Rs 5-60 lakh (per innovation), depending upon the sort of innovation.

Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President & General Manager, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, says, “We believe in delivering customised marketing campaigns by catering to the unique needs of advertisers who are looking for an integrated campaign that moves beyond traditional spot advertising. We were one of the first few broadcasters to create engaging vignettes and short films for clients. With the expansion of Discovery’s portfolio, innovations like road-block and programming stunts are becoming immensely popular.”

The innovations in the kids’ genre have been on a roll, with lot of room for creativity, fresh ideas and customisation. Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Senior VP & GM, Nickelodeon India, emphasizes, “Innovations have tremendous scope in the kids’ genre. The cartoon characters are very powerful and when we combine the brands’ message with a character, its impact on kids is much higher than a usual commercial.”

An interesting innovation from Nickelodean was the celebration of ‘Global hand washing day’ for Lifebouy in the month of October. The message was innovatively communicated with repeated hand washing alarms and interesting messages from Nickelodeon toons.

Another interesting example is from Cartoon Network, where the network did an in-feature brand placement with Perfetti Van Melle in its 90-minute cricket themed movie, Balla Bowl. Perfetti Van Melle’s flagship candy brand, Center Fruit, was integrated in the animation like features as the key sponsor of the cricket stadium and championship trophy, etc.

Also, the first telecast of the movie was ad free, thus further emphasising the brand message of Perfetti, without the clutter of any other brand. Rohit Sarma, Executive Director – Network Advertising Sales, South Asia, Turner International India says, “Getting product integration into an animation film was a huge leap. Perfetti was looking at new and exciting ways to reach its consumers to promote their brand Center Fruit outside traditional media. Keeping this in mind, we came up with Balla Bowl, based on cricket, which is always a hit with the core target audience.”

Categories like news too have been high on innovation. Anil Uniyal, CEO- CNBC-TV18 & CNBC Awaaz, says, “Besides creating customised special properties  for our clients, to address their specific target audiences, which feature under our brand ‘Focus’, we also regularly do customised graphical and text based innovations. We have also created many in-show graphics with client requirements, keeping in mind the integrity and look of the show. Clients as diverse as ICICI Bank, Nokia, Google, Qatar Airways, have all been provided with innovative advertising options on our channel, which have worked very well for them”

Advertiser funded programmes (AFPs) have been another hit on the innovation front, specially with youth centric channels. AFPs provide great opportunities to brands to get a higher level of engagement with their consumers. Imagine TV’s Madhok says “Imagine too has been active in this space. We have a dedicated team in place to handle AFPs. We have done some really interesting shows such as Dettol Surakshit Parivar, the Gladrags Hunts and many others, and continue to engage with clients with some unique  concepts.”

Stressing on the importance of AFPs Milind Bade, General Manager, Marketing, Bajaj Auto, says, “AFPs integrate the brand promise and values very strongly in the show. It is like a one-hour TV commercial for us with higher impact.”

Bajaj Auto plans to spend 25 per cent of its marketing budget on AFPs in 2011. The brand had two seasons of Bajaj Pulsar Stunt Mania on MTV, which was a big hit.

An affair off-air

In the pursuit of capturing more ad spends, TV channels have moved beyond the small screen. It is no more about just giving on-air solutions, it has expanded to off-air (on-ground) and online solutions. Nickelodeon’s Jaipuria says, “We have gone beyond on-air solutions, we have gone beyond just being TV. We have a huge focus on activations.” Nickelodeon did a one day Play-a-thon in partnership with Nestle Milkybar and Surf Excel. It is a full day event that urged kids to come out of home and play. Other on-ground initiatives by Nickelodeon were ‘Horlicks Summer Growth Carnival’ and ‘Nestle Eclairs Marathon with Nickelodeon’. These events were extended online too.

The ‘Horlicks Summer Growth Carnival’ managed to engage 7,812 kids and mothers. Puneet Das, General Manager, Horlicks, says, “A Horlicks Summer Growth Carnival is a great platform to take a rational message of ‘nutrition & overall growth development and speak directly to the consumers in an engaging & interactive manner.”

Turner too created a special online concept for Johnson & Johnson to reach out to mothers in an engaging way. A micro-site called ‘J&J Tender Loving Caring Moments’ was created on www.cartoonetworkindia.com and www.pogo.tv, which hosted a gallery to capture the baby’s ‘first’ moments, such as ‘first step’, ‘first birthday’, ‘first playful moments/expressions’ and ‘first bathing’ moments. The micro-site was a huge success.


Advertising vs Subscription

Internationally, the advertising subscription ratio is largely 30:70, in favour of subscription. But in India the story is different. Though, the digitisation wave over the last few years has driven the subscription revenues for television. Still, for most of the channel categories, advertising is the biggest source of revenue. For GECs the ratio of advertising and subscription revenues is 60:40. For News channels too the ratio is skewed in favour of advertising. However, for infotainment channels like Discovery, the story is different. “All our networks are pay channels. Discovery Network, garners 40:60 ratio of advertising: subscription revenue,” says Discovery’s Johri.

Apart from genre, the ratio of advertising : Subscription revenues is also driven by the age of the channel. Imagine TV’s Madhok agrees, “Some of the older channels in this genre have a greater likelihood of writing subscription revenues even if the viewership is equivalent. The share of subscription is only likely to grow overall, with growing digital penetration and increased addressability.”


Beyond Hindi

With increasing strength of regional channels, the big networks too are focusing on the regional space. Sample this: Hindi channels command a viewership share of 50 per cent but regional languages are not far behind with a share close to 40 per cent. English channels have a viewership share of 10 per cent.  Similarly, if we look at genre share, regional channels put together account for almost double of GECs share. GEC viewership share is 28 per cent, while regional share is at 34 per cent.

Within the regional space, Tamil continues to dominate with a viewership share of 10.06 per cent, closely followed by Kannada with a share of 9.08 per cent. Apart from the southern states which were the foundation for this genre, Bengali (3.3 per cent) and Marathi (3.94 per cent) have garnered significant share of the regional pie.

And as national brands penetrate deeper into rural markets, regional TV becomes increasingly important as the cost-effective reach vehicle. Regional TV gave brands the ability to do localised and targeted marketing.

Talking about the importance of regional media, Milind Bade, General Manager, Marketing, Bajaj Auto, says, “Regional TV media is extremely important for national brands. Regional TV presents a unique opportunity to address specific brand needs. For example suppose a specific brand is not doing well in Bihar, we don’t need to have a campaign on national channels, we can run the campaign on the regional channels in the state. This not only controls cost but presents an opportunity to effectively address region specific issues.”

Ajay Vidyasagar, Chief Operating Officer, Sun TV Network, says, “At a very basic level, we continue to be a very strong performer as far as viewership is concerned and hence we are a big influencer in marketing our advertiser’s product.” Sun TV is the leader among the Tamil language channels.

K Subramanyam, Vice-President, Marketing, ETV Network, stresses on the importance of innovation in the regional space. He says, “It’s a continuous learning process for both the channel and the client on how effectively one can reach the target audience through innovative advertising.”

Realising the strength of regional, infotainment channel, Discovery, launched regional feeds in two languages (Tamil and Telugu) in 2010. Johri is confident of Discovery Channel’s foray into the regional language sphere. He points out  that at the time of launch of Discovery Tamil, Discovery was ranked 47 in terms of viewership in Tamil Nadu, but just after 10 months, it jumped to being ranked 11. He says, “Just from switching languages we jumped numbers and we didn’t even begin marketing our product. In Telugu language, we noted a jump of 90 per cent in our viewership, within a month’s time of launch. Regional is going to be a focus area for us.”

So how would TV advertising be in 2011. Will it be able to retain the larger share in the ad pie? To learn about this, head to the Outlook section.

About the author / 

Abhinav Mohapatra

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