Benita Chacko

Addressable ads Disney Star’s counter to digital: Ajit Varghese

Ajit Varghese, head – network advertising sales, says beyond live sports, 10-15% of daily inventory is allocated exclusively for targeted ads on entertainment HD channels.

Starting this IPL, Star Sports has partnered with Tata Play to introduce targeted ads on linear television during live sports coverage. The official broadcaster for the Indian Premier League (IPL) aims to provide advertisers with unprecedented access to premium audiences in the top eight metro cities during live matches on select Star Sports channels. Using the targeting features, advertisers will be able to finely tailor their ads to reach these premium audiences on big screens with quality content.

Ajit Varghese, head – network advertising sales, Disney Star, says that Tata Play draws affluent audiences, particularly in the top 8 metros, and numerous brands across categories such as D2C, QSR, Online Services, Travel, and Consumer Products are keen on targeting these affluent audiences. Addressable ads on linear TV will ensure that these brands reach their desired viewers at scale. 

Addressable ads enable brands to target specific audience segments using the same TV ad spots. Essentially, broadcasters can select which ads to show to audiences across different demographics, interests, and viewing habits. By delivering tailored messages to specific households, brands can now maximise the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns, leading to higher engagement, conversion rates, and return on investment. It will meet various objectives such as boosting market presence in metros and launching premium products.

“The pioneering ad product has the power to not only disrupt the current landscape but also set the tone for the evolution of linear TV going forward. This convergence presents a significant advantage for advertisers and offers brands the perfect opportunity to be at the forefront of this high-quality tech-enabled advertising solution that is targeted, engaging, and effective,” he says.

Beyond live sports, the innovation is also available for Disney Star’s entertainment HD channels on Tata Play. It is allocating 10-15% of daily inventory on participating HD channels exclusively for targeted ads. Brands can deploy targeted ad campaigns with a minimum activity period of two weeks, with plans to expand inventory and channels in subsequent phases. The technology required for live sports is a bit different, considering the real time nature of the content.

The DTH player, backed by its technology partners, is equipped with the ability to enable addressability through virtual feeds on most set-top boxes. While panel data from Tata Play forms the foundation for campaign setup, planning, measurement, reporting, and billing, it has collaborated with INVIDI to ensure seamless execution. Through the provision of channel carriage bandwidth, it enables the creation of separate ad feeds for Disney Star’s channels, facilitating the serving of targeted ads exclusively to subscribers in the top eight metros. 

“Tata Play has spearheaded the implementation of addressable ads on linear TV by offering essential technological infrastructure and targeting capabilities. They have a strong hold over both consumer and advertiser domains,” says Varghese.

With the introduction of addressable ads on linear TV, not only does Disney Star have a competitive edge over the other television channels, but also offers a significant leap forward in competing with digital advertising platforms. Additionally, DTH metro audiences are significantly larger than digital metro audiences, with 3X more NCCS A audiences compared to digital, as per a study by Kantar. 

“Unlike digital, TV ensures completed views, eliminating the ambiguity associated with partial impressions. This pioneering solution, coupled with Tata Play's high ARPU (average revenue per user) premium audience cohort in the top 8 metros, provides a competitive edge over digital advertising, offering brands the opportunity to pay for completed views and reducing entry barriers to linear TV media planning. This, combined with the inherent accessibility and reliability of TV infrastructure, positions television as the ultimate platform for advertisers seeking impactful engagement,” he says.

In December 2023, marking a significant ‘breakthrough’ in the Indian industry, especially for unconnected boxes, Tata Play introduced addressable ads for linear television. This move is expected to boost the revenue of the dish TV provider, which previously did not have access to advertising revenue.

In a press release announcing the innovation, Harit Nagpal, MD & CEO, Tata Play, said that addressable ads capability for unconnected boxes is a groundbreaking global first in Pay TV. It was introduced for the first time on live sports during Tata IPL.   

Varghese said that there is a significant potential to collaborate with additional DTH providers to broaden the reach and addressable universe of premium audiences on linear TV. 

“Tata Play will have the first mover advantage in introducing addressable ads on TV, and we are keen on scaling this up and providing this opportunity for advertisers across the country,” he adds.

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