Benita Chacko

The lowdown on JioCinema's ad plans for IPL '24

  • New features, video ads with companion banners, branded tabs, and fan reaction emojis enhance branding opportunities

  • It has introduced shopping ads and new segments within the app, providing tailored branding opportunities

  • Regional feeds attract regional advertisers, previously hesitant due to perceived national brand dominance

  • Flexible ad rates cater to advertisers of all sizes, with spot buys aimed at transitioning TV buyers to digital purchasing

As the 17th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) begins on March 22, JioCinema is all set to offer a compelling advertising platform, with a focus on engagement and regional reach. 

“Jio's advancements in this IPL season elevate digital as a branding medium, moving beyond a mere performance platform. This is a breakthrough, wherein it is harnessing the platform's true potential and technological capabilities,” says Ankit Banga, CBO, FCB/SIX India.

To increase interaction and offer targeted marketing opportunities it has created new features like ‘Click-to-chat on WhatsApp’ and video ads with companion banners. It has added further branding opportunities with branded tabs and fan reaction emojis. It has also introduced auto-filled lead forms to streamline the process for interested users. 

The addition of shopping ads will allow users to seamlessly transition from viewing an ad to making a purchase within the Jio interface. Furthermore, the introduction of new segments within the Jio app, such as Best Partnership Players and Most Stylish Moments, provides tailored branding opportunities. 

Jio's advancements in this IPL season elevate digital as a branding medium, moving beyond a mere performance platform.
Ankit Banga, CBO, FCB/SIX India

It also plans to run special branded feeds, like the Tata feed on IPL, and customised feeds and shows, such as pre and post-shows tailored to specific brands, to further enhance engagement. 

This year, advertisers with limited budgets for IPL advertising can still reach cricket enthusiasts through Jio Cinema's diverse entertainment content. Similar to last year, matches remain accessible for free. 

Additionally, feeds are now available in 12 languages, including Haryanvi for the first time, catering to a broader Indian audience and improving market penetration.

Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and CEO, White Rivers Media, says with the introduction of regional feeds, regional advertisers are now more inclined to participate and are demonstrating a growing affinity for IPL advertising.

“A brand which was previously hesitant about advertising during IPL due to perceived national brand dominance is now able to advertise there,” he says. 

IPL serves as an excellent top-funnel building platform for brands
Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and CEO, White Rivers Media

Amita Srivastava, vice president – west, Carat India, says this diversity will enhance brand affinity and allow focus on local products and services, “like local restaurants, and shops and helps with targeted reach and hence more cost-effective advertising.”

Siddharth Devnani, co-founder & director, SoCheers, says more localisation will Increase viewership. “OTT gives advertisers the advantage of geo-targeting on a national property. It will give brands the ability to target regions where they intend to grow on the biggest high-impact national media IP,” he says.

Banga says, in terms of targeting options, it enables precise audience segmentation based on geography and language preferences. “This maintains the essence of digital while preserving its original appeal: the ability to reach specific audiences. These features enhance its targeting effectiveness while fostering brand engagement and affinity,” he adds.

It plans to make IPL more engaging through the introduction of VR experiences, multicam, and various technological innovations. It will also feature live fan engagement contests, like Jeeto Dhan Dhana Dhan, on the platform during matches. This year, the contest has been expanded to include multiple brands, with brand-related quiz questions for increased engagement. 

JioCinema's Brand Spotlight
JioCinema's Brand Spotlight

The platform has also launched ‘Brand Spotlight’. The innovation will facilitate campaign makers and brand custodians to share exclusive insights and stories about how the campaign and brand film are showcased. 

These will be available to viewers on an exclusive JioCinema brand spotlight rail on the JioCinema App. Charged by Thums Up, Parle, Britannia, Dalmia Cements, and PayZapp by HDFC Bank will debut their campaigns during the first five overs of the opening game on March 22.

Srivastava says Brand Spotlight combines premium ad placement with an opportunity for richer brand storytelling, intending to maximise impact during a high-engagement event. “There will be significant brand exposure that allows brands to share exclusive behind-the-scenes insights and stories about the creation of their IPL campaign. This can help build a deeper connection with viewers and enhance brand messaging,” she says.

Banga says the flexibility and tailored solutions offered by Jio present significant opportunities for brands to engage with their audience in innovative ways. These innovations aim to strike a balance between being attention-grabbing and not being overly intrusive. 

“With the choice between television and digital, brands are opting for the true essence of digital: engagement. The goal is to make the content conversational and engaging, rather than feeling like traditional advertising,” he says.  

Since other platforms still use concurrent viewers, it can be challenging for advertisers to compare the effectiveness of campaigns across different platforms.
Amita Srivastava, vice president – west, Carat India

Opportunities for startups?

Due to market conditions and dwindling funding, there's been a decrease in startup brands' participation this year. 

“Overall, it's a more conservative year for brands, with established players dominating sponsorship. Startup presence, apart from Dream11, is notably scarce among the top sponsors in 2024,” Banga says.

Gandhi says approximately 30% of participating brands are funded startups. “IPL serves as an excellent top-funnel building platform for brands,” he says.

Star Sports, the TV broadcaster of the IPL, has introduced 'Startup Power Play’ to enable advertising for start-ups. JioCinema does not have a similar plan for these smaller advertisers.

OTT gives advertisers the advantage of geo-targeting on a national property. It will give brands the ability to target regions where they intend to grow on the biggest high-impact national media IP
Siddharth Devnani, co-founder & director, SoCheers

Devnani suggests self-serve advertising to tap into the startup ecosystem. While Disney+ Hotstar launched self-serve last year, JioCinema is yet to launch one. 

“Startups are used to smaller budgets and experimenting on their own, which is only possible with self-serve options. This democratises advertising on OTT, allowing brands with smaller budgets to reach their audiences, similar to what Meta has done on social media and Google on YouTube and search,” he says.

This year the platform expects to reach 650 million users.
This year the platform expects to reach 650 million users.

Viewership expectations

This year the platform expects to reach 650 million users, significantly higher than last year's 450 million. “That's an increase of about 200 million users, largely driven by the proliferation of 4G technology and Jio Bharat phones, which have added an additional 30 million users with their affordable Rs 1000 phones,” Banga adds.

However, unlike Disney+ Hotstar, which used to display concurrent viewership, JioCinema presents cumulative viewership. This has created a mixed response from advertisers. Some argue that it might not significantly impact them since they often pay for impressions rather than unique viewers.

Srivastava says advertisers traditionally value concurrent viewers as it directly reflects the number of people watching at a specific time. This provides a clearer picture of a campaign's reach during a particular broadcast. 

“Cumulative views, however, don't offer the same level of insight into how many people are seeing the ads at any given moment. Since other platforms still use concurrent viewers, it can be challenging for advertisers to compare the effectiveness of campaigns across different platforms. The industry is still observing the situation. While some advertisers might be concerned, others may adapt their strategies based on the data provided by JioCinema,” she says.

Meanwhile, Banga feels this is less contradictory and more reliable. “From an advertiser's standpoint, cumulative viewership provides a clearer understanding of total reach, which is crucial for decision-making. This approach prioritises the needs of advertisers and brands, ensuring greater comfort and confidence in their investment,” he says.

Gandhi says IPL's prestigious status often outweighs concerns about concurrency due to its significant impact.

“Brands buying on impressions need not concern themselves with concurrency. However, for brands specifying the number of times their ad should air during a match, concurrency becomes a relevant consideration,” he says.

Ad rates

Jio Cinema is offering diverse and appealing packages, catering to advertisers of all sizes and preferences. This year, it has introduced spot buys, a move aimed at transitioning traditional TV buyers to digital purchasing. With spot buys, advertisers purchase ad slots similar to TV, ensuring their spot reaches all IPL viewers at that moment, regardless of location. This approach appeals to categories like automobile and e-commerce companies.

The pricing remains unchanged from last year. The mobile CPMs range from Rs 180 to Rs 300 basis targeting. CTV CPM range is from Rs 380 to Rs 700 basis targeting. Meanwhile, spot buy for mobile ranges from Rs 13 lakh to Rs 15 lakh per 10 second. Spot buys for CTV range from Rs 5.5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh per 10 second.

However, sources suggest that compared to last year the traction is not as high, possibly due to cricket fatigue and reduced spending by global advertisers, who are supporting counterparts in countries experiencing economic slowdowns. 

Gandhi says JioCinema offers relatively competitive prices compared to other tournaments, making it an attractive option for advertisers. “With various targeting options, enhanced service skill sets, and competitive pricing, IPL presents a compelling advertising opportunity for brands,” he says.

While the platform is offering flexible rates for all budgets, Banga believes that brands with limited budgets should avoid conventional IPL advertising. Instead, they should explore creative options to stand out amidst the clutter. 

“For example, we developed a memorable property for a client with a small budget, ensuring their presence during every match as the player of the match sponsor. This focused approach garnered attention without excessive spending,” he says.

Srivastava suggests that since Jio is a major player in the Indian telecom industry, JioCinema should leverage it by offering bundled packages that combine advertising on JioCinema with promotions on other Jio platforms. It can create a broader digital reach for advertisers by combining with other platforms like JioSaavn or JioGames,” she says.

CTV push

In its ad campaigns for this IPL, JioCinema is promoting CTV viewership. CTV's family viewing experience aligns well with cricket's appeal as a family sport. Banga says CTV is experiencing significant traction this year, driven by its limited inventory. Some clients are opting for both CTV and Mobile advertising, while others focus solely on CTV due to its precise targeting capabilities. 

“With approximately 40 million CTV users and a total viewership of 120 million, it's proving to be an ideal platform for family-oriented and higher-ticket-size products,” he says.  

However, despite its potential, only about 120 million viewers out of the 650 million reach should be coming out of that, which is around 20% of the overall IPL platform's reach. So, it still has a long way to go before it offers significant reach to advertisers.

Gandhi says though CTV is a rapidly growing medium, it won't surpass mobile devices in reach. Among its clients, White Rivers Media onboards around 65-70% of mobile advertisers. “This observation may be specific to certain categories or clients and may not be representative of the entire industry. However, for traditional advertisers, CTV offers a look and feel similar to classic television, providing a stronger connection and impact,” he says.

Srivastava says advertisers are also seeking this audience cohort. However, the handheld or mobile universe is huge and can not be ignored as the dominant viewing method across India. “Ultimately, while CTV will be a significant focus, JioCinema will use a multi-platform approach to reach the widest audience possible during the IPL,” she says.

Devnani says CTV is great for a premium audience. However, it won't have the vast reach of TV or mobile. “So it can't be the main focus for JioCinema's revenue or for a brand to drive significant impact,” he says.

Have news to share? Write to us