Aishwarya Ramesh

Is local language content ushering in premium ad rates now?

On Day 1 of Languages Week, a panel discussed the ad rates on local language content versus English content.

Day 1 of the afaqs! webinar series Languages Week kicked off yesterday (Monday, October 26). The first panel discussion attempted to capture the wonder of India’s language medium, and touched upon the diversity of the country’s consumer market.

Is local language content ushering in premium ad rates now?

The panel included Ashit Kukian, chief executive officer of Radio City; Harrish M Bhatia, president, sales and marketing, DB Corp (ABP News’ parent company); Amin Lakhani, chief operating officer at Mindshare South Asia; and Mona Jain, chief revenue officer at ABP Network. The session’s presenting partner was ABP Ananda and the ‘powered by’ partner was Colors Marathi.

The session was moderated by Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, author and contributing editor of Business Standard. The topic of discussion for the day was, Ad rates: more or less? Kohli-Khandekar started things off by asking how much has a change in audience impacted ad rates.

Kukian began with a historical perspective. When it comes to print ad rates, English had a premium over Hindi, which had a premium over other languages. “However, the way media has evolved, the ad rates don’t dictate the premium nature of the language delivery vehicle.”

The only challenge that remains is that each of these mediums has started at a particular price point and then it has the potential to go up, Kukian added. He likened it to the price of petrol, which began at a particular point when people realised the commodity was more important, and the prices went up from there.

Jain of ABP Network said that she’s been in the business for nearly 30 years and has observed the evolution of this space. She said that the national media has tremendous spillover on a pan-India basis. She also pointed out that in the south, Sun TV has always held dominant stake in the market and was able to command a more specific premium when it comes to ad rates. “They have a monopoly in this market, you just can’t do without them.”

Jain also said that in West Bengal, many channels were airing Bengali content. So, the audience shifted from national media to the local media and therefore, brands needed to have local gross rating point (GRP) to supplement a national spillover.

"Due to an increase in demand and a reliance on advertisers to be in a particular state, regional media, historically, has not been able to get the premium ad rates that they deserve to get."

Jain gave the example of a national newspaper, which may have a local language newspaper alongside an English newspaper. Even these publications would demand for a premium ad rate for the English newspaper over the local language one.

"Sixty per cent of the national plan would go to Hindi or English media, but not to a regional language media paper, despite regional media delivering higher reach."

Bhatia of DB Corp disagreed with the point of Hindi and local languages not being able to command a premium, since focus is coming back to these markets.

“There was a time when you’d look upon English as a premium area and Hindi as a non-premium one, but those days are gone. Due to economic growth in Tier-II and Tier-III towns, and because people are moving away from metro to non-metro locations, people are looking at each and every penny spent on the medium and the value generated from it. So, things have already shifted in my opinion.” Bhatia added that it is not about what medium you’re using, but what content you’re delivering.

Lakhani of Mindshare mentioned that the value of pricing has always been determined by a balance of demand and supply. “If you look at the demand side of things, it will depend on the vehicle's ability to garner audiences...”

Lakhani elucidates that if a legacy publisher goes digital and is unable to garner an audience, then, perhaps, legacy pricing does play into consideration. When it comes to businesses, brands and media planners, the media planner’s job, he said, is to find the most relevant audience for this brand in a cost effective way.

He said that different markets could hold different levels of relevance to brands. This relevance is not necessarily dependent on geography.

“The point is that a language really cuts across multitudes of states, reaches out to a significant size of the audiences and, therefore, it has the ability to drive a media plan in a particular site. Any vehicle which helps me cut across Maharashtra on one side to West Bengal on the other, will gather that many numbers, in terms of audiences and, therefore, the price equivalent for ad rates.”

Kohli-Khandekar added an insight to the discussion – that the purchasing power of small town India is on the rise.

Lakhani said that if there are two media planners, and the first one has a choice of three consumers, and the second one has just a choice of one, because the brand is not available outside of one particular market, then the planner is forced to dwell or optimise within that particular market.

“I think that is a crucial consideration. Beyond the number crunching and the value, there is an empirical experience of how different genres, or ways in which you're connecting with your audiences, can result in business growth.”

Watch the full discussion here.

ABP Ananda is the presenting sponsor for Languages Week and the powered by partner is Colors Marathi. ABP Network stands out in the Asian subcontinent as a media stalwart that remains ever stringent in its promises of unbiased, on ground reporting backed by its 100 years of industry experience.

An innovative media and content creation company, ABP Network is a credible voice in the broadcast & digital sphere, with a multi-language portfolio of news channels reaching 535 million individuals in India. This multi-language portfolio includes national Hindi channel – ABP News, regional hindi news channel for UP/UK market – ABP Ganga, Gujarati news channel – ABP Asmita, Marathi news channel – ABP Majha, Bengali news channel – ABP Ananda and digital arm – ABP Live.

ABP Ananda, national Bengali news channel is a household phenomenon in every Bengali family across the globe. Revolutionizing news broadcasting in the vernacular market, ABP Ananda is one of India’s leading Bengali news channels.

With fearless reporting and the urge to bring the news first to viewers, ABP Ananda is the undisputed leader. It is known for its array of popular news & current affairs based programmes. Ghanta Khanek Sange Suman is the flagship programme of the channel, which is a regular political debate on the latest daily issues which airs from Monday to Friday.

Other popular news programmes on ABP Ananda are – Ananda Sokal, Ekhon Kolkata, 7 Tay Bangla, 10 Tay Sharadin, AajBanglay, Ek Dajon Galpo and many more. The channel also has an equally good foothold in the entertainment genre with two popular programmes – Film Star and Hoy Ma Noy Bouma.

With a mission to empower, inspire & serve as the voice of the people, the channel has not only created strong brand equity in the market of West Bengal, but also withheld its No. 1 position consistently.

On major days like election results, ABP Ananda has consistently triumphed over GEC garnering maximum market share and reach. ABP Ananda has been the No. 1 channel in the overall TV Universe of West Bengal week on week during the entire COVID-19 lockdown phase.