Does IPL work for advertisers

Updated: May 8 2012, 09:46am hrs
Dnyanada Chaudhari

COO Pinnacle, a unit of Madison World

Look beyond mere placements and static branding

At the very start, I must confess that I am not a cricket buff, but just a mere observer of human behaviour and one of the things I do for a living is watch how people watch (entertainment, that is). Anecdotal observations suggest that it might be worthwhile to invest in the game. You see families at restaurants squashed on the same side of the dinner table just to get a good view of the game. I am surprised to find that its a delight to drive in the city only to discover that Mumbai Indians are playing. I get calls from friends in the retail business, asking for advice on how to increase footfalls when the game is on. One notices giant signs on mall facades promising the Indian Premier League (IPL) viewing on large screens at the food court, wooing men out of the house while the wife shops. While crossing the street, I am startled to hear the IPL bugle only to discover that it is a mobile ringtone.

To put this argument in perspective, there are four dimensions which we can explore to assess IPL composition, connection, context and currency. If each is addressed well, we can effectively leverage IPL as an advertising platform on any of the three screens, whether television, mobile or internet.

Audience composition

Altogether 127 million people watched IPL (first 16 matches) of which 42% are young adults in the age group of 15-34 years. IPL is a good platform for brands that address men as decision makers as well as those brands that target teenagers and young adults. In fact, IPL works like the equivalent of a male K-soap opera on TV. After all, it does have all the ingredients of drama -- controversy, celebrities, cheerleaders, fast paced 20-20 format and suspense. The game affects primetime viewing garnering 20.4% channel share and drop in GECs' channel share from 39.9% to 35.3% during IPL for this audience.

Connection

There are a plethora of opportunities on mobile, tablets and internet for brands that are looking for both scale and engagement with youth. There are over a million unique views a day for IPL on Indiatimes and Youtube put together and the opportunities range from sponsorships to branded content integrations to interactive games. EBay India has created a live online war game called the battle of the fans on Facebook which got over 1.5 lakh bets last season, this has kept the brand relevant in the social space and they are now back with the new season. This is an example of simulation of real world betting in the form of a virtual game. There are opportunities to target premium audiences with IPL games available for tablets and smartphones.

Context

How can we make advertising on IPL effective beyond sponsorships If you can imagine it, you can. The key would be to look beyond mere placements and static branding. Cadbury Dairy Milk has contextually integrated the brand proposition of Shubh Aarambh at the start of every match on Indiatimes. 5-Star, with its quirky sense of humour, connects with the viewer by adding to the entertainment mood with ek bilan chota, rather than becoming a blindspot with clever use of the simple L-band.

Currency

Viewership is but one dimension of the games performance. Viewership by itself is unable to explain the impact created on a brands mind measures. It is imperative to look for a currency or metric that is best able measure the brands ambition. Brands that are seeking to drive spontaneity and rapidly shift mind measures, need to explore disruptive platforms. There is enough analytical evidence from the past that IPL has the potential to help new brands or new communication build rapid awareness that sustains over a longer period of time.

To sum up the question of why does it make sense to advertise on IPL we may find some answers by asking why not

Nikhil Rangnekar

CEO SA1, Spatial Access Pvt Ltd

The CPRP on IPL has gone up from approximately Rs50,000 in 2008 to Rs1.2 lakh in 2012 which is a 140% jump, while non-IPL CPRPs have remained more or less flat or have seen a marginal increase in the last two years

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been one of the most premium and coveted properties on Indian television for the last four years. The novelty of the concept and the glamour associated with it made it a much-sought-after property. Team owners to cheerleaders, post-match parties to player auctions, celebrities to ex-cricketers, the IPL had all the ingredients of a successful ratings game.

Despite the obstacles in the form of the unfortunate Mumbai bomb blasts of 2009 to the more recent pull-out by Sahara Group from the Pune Warriors team, IPL continued to pull in the crowds and it seemed nothing could come in the way of this mega event.

But they say all good things come to an end. The euphoria of the last four years is fading and reality seems to be setting in. Much like the stock market, where prices soar beyond realistic thresholds and a correction is inevitable.

Stabilising IPL price band

It appears that the time has now come for a correction in IPL advertising rates looking at the dip in viewership as well as advertiser interest.

Viewership trends

Lets examine the viewership trends as per TAM Media Research's all-India TVR data for 25+ age group, SEC (socioeconomic class) A,B,C, cable and satellite (C&S) audience for the first two weeks of IPL since inception.

It is quite clear that the average TVRs have dropped from 5.8 in 2008 to 4.2 in 2012, a drop of 27%. This drop is across audiences with both male as well as female viewership decreasing by roughly the same percentage. The drop seems to be consistent in terms of day-parts as well with evening matches being affected slightly more than the afternoon matches.

Moreover, the declining trend in viewership from IPL 4 to IPL 5 is consistent across markets except Kolkata/rest of West Bengal which has grown by 30% and Bangalore and Hyderabad which have shown marginal growth in the average TVR.

Contrast this to the increase in advertising rates per 10 seconds and the equation looks quiet lopsided. The CPRP (cost per rating point) on IPL has gone up from approximately Rs50,000 in 2008 to Rs1.2 lakh in 2012 which is a 140% jump. Compare this to the fact that non IPL CPRPs have remained more or less flat or have seen a marginal increase in the last two years. Moreover, the CPRPs for live telecast of cricket matches when India is playing normally vary between Rs40,000 to Rs1 lakh. No wonder that IPL along with viewer interest is losing advertiser interest as well.

Advertiser interest in IPL

Let us deep dive into the inventory sold on this edition of IPL in the first two weeks. Here are the highlights: Top 10 advertisers account for 76% of the inventory sold on live matches.

Sony with its programme promotions has the number one spot with 24% followed by Vodafone at 12% and Idea and Cadbury at 7% each. They are followed by Pepsi and Tata Teleservices at 6% each. Pepsi along with its sister concern Pepsico Holdings, together, account for 8% of the inventory.

Among non-sponsors, Coca-Cola leads the pack with a share of 5% followed by advertisers such as Havells, Parle Agro, Kansai Nerolac, United Breweries, Adidas and Volkswagen with a 3% share each.

The total number of advertisers in the first 16 matches has been 38 but if one omits the in-house advertising by Sony and the IPL team owners as well as BCCI, the number drops to 28. This sounds like a fairly dismal performance compared to last year when at the end of the 17th match, SET Max had 53 advertisers on board out of which only BCCI and Sony were IPL related brands, all others being regular advertisers.

Out of the 51 advertisers who were on air last year as per TAM, only 15 have come back while 36 have stayed away from IPL 5. SET Max has been able to rope in 13 new advertisers this year but at fairly low outlays, collectively accounting for just 16% of the inventory sold.

The writing on the wall is there for all to see. While viewership seems to have settled down to some extent, the CPRP is increasing year-on-year due to disproportionate increase in the advertising rates. Its probably time for SET Max to re-look at IPL rates to maintain advertiser interest in the largest property on Indian television.