Debashish Chakraborty
Brands and Sports marketing

“IPL broadcast helped us tap non-metros and tier-2 cities, contributes 60-70% now”: Sharat Dhall, PolicyBazaar

The COO of the online insurance aggregator talks about the partnership with IPL, leveraging television, advertising during IPL, TG, secret recipe for campaigns and more..

IPL today hosts a plethora of brands under its massive reach, geography-agnostic and gender-neutral umbrella. PolicyBazaar, a decade-old brand has been partnering with IPL broadcast for the last couple of years. With brands across segments (edu-tech, fantasy gaming, FMCG) partnering with IPL, what benefits does a brand from the online insurance segment derive? We spoke to Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer, PolicyBazaar about the partnership with IPL broadcast, benefits of television, target group, advertisement during IPL, the secret recipe for campaigns and more.

Edited Excerpts:

Tell us about the factors you had considered before partnering and the reasons for the continuous association?

We’ve been associated with IPL broadcast for the last few years. There are two prime reasons: first, cricket is huge in India and IPL broadcast has a tremendous reach across age groups, gender and geographies…and it has able to sustain that over a period of over 50 days. The level of interest that it is able to generate is commendable. Hence, not being part of IPL is almost impossible.

Second, we found it to be extremely successful from the perspective of expanding the awareness and reach of our brand. Insurance is a fairly complex category and persuasion is required to get customers to purchase it. For us, as an objective, it is clearly about the reach which the event helps us achieve.

Sharat Dhall
Sharat Dhall

What were your expectations for IPL 2020? How did they turn out?

We were very confident that IPL would do very well this year. In the lockdown situation, people were hungry for entertainment and that’s what the event delivered.

Our core audience is 25-45 years. IPL (broadcast) has helped us to expand our geographical penetration with non-metros and tier-2 cities contributing to 60-70% today and the rest by metros– which was the opposite a few years back.

Insurance as a product is also a family-involved process with members of the family being involved in buying insurance such as life, medical, Asset etc. Hence, partnering with an event like IPL caters to our primary TG as well as other members of the family.

Television has been a key part of your brand’s media mix. Tell us about your How has your TG been responding to your advertisements on television over your two years of association?

Television is certainly a substantial part of our media spend. Insurance, as a product, is complicated and requires repeated messaging in an audio and visual format for a better understanding. And we’ve found that engagement is much higher on television as compared to other mediums. As there is the two screens format, the audience watching ads on TV and simultaneous movement on our website via mobile phones. We monitor these movements very carefully – tracking advertisements on channels and their instant impact. This model has been extremely successful and we’re aware of the impact of the campaign within a few days of its release.

During IPL, we’ve seen a surge in inquiries and because of our constant presence on television, we’re able to compare results based on pre-IPL campaigns and during IPL. We’ve seen a jump of over 30-40% queries during the event.

What’s the recipe to make a campaign noticeable?

For us, the key to a successful campaign is the simple and single-minded approach. During IPL, it is the short format ads with a higher frequency that work the best. As a brand, we’ve ensured that we launch a new campaign during IPL. This gives the campaign a platform for the maximum impact it is capable of delivering.

I’ve enjoyed ads that have used cricketers, not as celebrities, but they being part of a larger narrative of the brand’s communication.

What would you say sets advertising on the IPL apart from other content genres?

IPL gives you a platform bigger than any other genre. Apart from the reach, it is also the impact that one has to take into consideration. The fact is consistent over a longer period of time with a high-interest rate, brand credibility and consideration are built upon that. Hence, it is able to catapult smaller brands into a much bigger aura than any other genre of television can.

While, we’ve been part of other cricketing events as well but, the IPL’s every-day-at-8-mantra-for-the-next-couple-of-months has definitely helped us to build trust and credibility for our brand.

IPL 2020 saw participation from new as well as traditional brands. As a marketer, what do you attribute this increasing interest to?

For young brands that are radically looking forward to expanding reach and penetration then IPL is the perfect platform. With an aggressive approach, a brand could attain 5x-10x growth by the end of an IPL season. Therefore, brands have realised this opportunity to leverage the league to reach a higher size and scale. For traditional brands, such as in the FMCG sector, IPL works well for those looking forward to product extensions – which can be treated as a separate business in a way.

And this year, with the COVID-19 affecting businesses across domains, this has been major learning.

What trends from a marketer’s perspective can be seen in the upcoming/future editions?

New age businesses could be seen partnering with the event more. For PolicyBazaar, IPL could be seen leapfrogging us into the next orbit of growth. We still see our penetration of the market as limited and IPL can increase that along with leading us to newer markets. We are quite bullish on the platform and look forward to further associating with it.

Who is favourite player & team?

My favourite player is Hardik Pandya and since I come from Bangalore, it has to be the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).