afaqs! news bureau

Why is TV a safe bet for advertisers, after all?

A chat with ABP Network's Mona Jain on how despite news being increasingly consumed on social and digital media, is TV still the best and safest media for advertisers?

At the recently concluded CMO Week (second edition), Anirban Roy Choudhary of afaqs! spoke to Mona Jain, chief revenue officer, ABP Network, on why TV is a safe bet for the advertisers, despite news being increasingly consumed on social and digital media.

Edited excerpts:

There are many new sources for news consumption. How does it change your dynamic, in terms of revenue, and how do you make yourself different from other brands?

People say that digital is the new future and all the money will go there. But the good news is that television is growing, in terms of penetration and viewership.

TV has penetrated two-thirds of the country. So, 100 million households are left, as far as penetration goes. NCCS A and B also show a healthy double digit-plus growth in viewership numbers, which is good news for the advertisers.

TV remains a powerful medium for the brands to reach their set of consumers, who have the purchasing power. In certain emerging markets like Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam and the Northeast, the numbers (penetration) are in double digits.

Having said that, we all know digital has been growing as a medium. It has become a significant part of any marketing campaign. There is 11 per cent growth in terms of Internet sets in the country, broadband is available to a majority of the audiences and, therefore, it becomes a viable option for the brands.

TV is still the most dominant and prominent media platform to reach the consumers.

You mentioned penetrating the emerging markets, how do you plan to get money out of print which is dominant in these markets?

Regional print is dominant and still penetrating deeper into the markets. Having said that, a lot of movement is happening from print to digital media and localised channels like news.

It’s not that difficult to get money out of print, but it is now looking at a newer format to get revenues. Most of the shift is happening to digital.

As you go deeper, are there new sets of advertisers joining in?

Absolutely. COVID has provided a window to new categories to come and experience the genre because when the pandemic happened, news viewership went up tremendously. Also, original content wasn’t being played on GECs. So, their numbers went down… Traditionally, FMCG didn’t look at the news channels. Now, within FMCG, health and pharma companies are spending a lot.

The phrase ‘brand safety’ is typically used in a digital context. Do we need to come up with a new phrase for TV content? Should TV spend on B2B marketing to drive home the point that it is safe for the advertisers?

There was a digital media post from my network. I had to check if we had done it for a client. We had not, and it was fake. TV still works very well when it comes to the trust factor. The credibility factor works well on TV, and that’s also true for the news channels.

Staying with brand safety, news tends to get noisy. It’s the nature of the program. Recently, during the Indo-China conflict, we saw Chinese apps sponsoring news shows. How do you tackle such a scenario? How do you assure a brand that when such things happen, we will have a layer to ensure your safety (something that doesn’t exist in other platforms, other than TV)?

That was an unfortunate episode. We had a program sponsored by Chinese apps. If you have committed to a brand’s safety, you can put a whole process in place...

The news is getting hyper-local in regional (language) channels. As that happens, do you see regional advertising and geo-targeting taking place?

Absolutely. People want to watch the news from both a national point of view and a local point of view. Therefore, it becomes relevant for the brands to penetrate deeper from a regional viewpoint.

We have Hindi news and its set of advertisers. We also have a distinct set of advertisers for Ananda, our leading Bengali channel. For ABP Majha, there are a lot of brands coming in from the rest of Maharashtra.

Many startups are advertising on TV. Do you see startups warming up to advertising on the news channels?

Most startups start off by advertising on news channels. They get their relevant audiences, the reach is high, and the entry-level cost isn’t humongous. Our channel now getting a huge list of startups...

Is real-time ad planning and delivery a thing on TV news channels?

It is very important for a niche content/genre to take a deep dive… Instead of looking demographically at what the number is for a particular channel (reach or average time spent), it is important to see how it psychographically fits with the consumer you’re typing to speak to...

Are you making enough money as a news network to sustain growth?

The conversation on these kinds of genres has to go beyond rate. ROI is not just cost per rating point (CPRP). It’s the wrong way to look at the news genre.

When negotiations happen, the buyer on the table should marry the strategic intent of having the particular genre or news channel with the media plan and negotiate accordingly, instead of generic negotiations.

What are the challenges news channels need to solve in the next year to ensure that they earn revenue?

News brings in high numbers of engaged audiences, especially in times like these - Corona crisis, elections… People get information from news channels. There should a different measurement yardstick for news channels than what is used for other genres… You’re reaching the consumers in more engaging ways.

This session was part of CMO Week, an afaqs! event. Partners for CMO Week 2.0 (April 19-22, 2021) include ABP News (presenting partner) and Shutterstock (associate sponsor).

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