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Digital to play a bigger role for brands on counting day of Election 2019

Brands will have to fight a lot of clutter to get noticed along with election data

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MUMBAI: The growth of the digital medium in India, in the past few years, has been a stellar one. Currently standing at 400 million active users, the country is the second largest consumer of the internet in the world. The falling data prices and access to cheaper smartphones have led to more and more people relying on the internet to access everything from news to entertainment, to health tips, to banking facilities and what not.

One can guess the popularity of this medium by having a look at the sky-high numbers Hotstar recorded this IPL season. The content streaming platform registered a viewership of 267 million in just first three weeks of the game, which was significantly higher than the 202 million of the complete season last year.

Also, as shared by Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar on Twitter, the online regional language services of the public broadcaster saw a tremendous surge in daily viewership, the day those states went into poll. DD News Guwahati recorded a 100 per cent increase in daily viewership, while for Maharashtra it was 400 per cent, on the day of voting.

The media industry is expecting a similar pattern of viewership on the day of counting for the general election as well. Editorji founder and former NDTV CEO Vikram Chandra recently tweeted that the digital will be challenging the traditional domination of TV news on the counting day.

Speaking with Indiantelevison.com about the same, Chandra shared that more people are now relying on digital media for their daily dose of news and it becomes imperative on counting day as people just want to know what is happening on a timely basis. He said that the audience might not have an interest in the prolonged analysis of why a political party is leading in a certain constituency, which TV shows keep on presenting but just have a sense of who is winning in their particular area.

Apart from this, the increased digital penetration, as compared to 2014, and the fact that the counting is happening on a working weekday will take more people on to digital platforms for real-time updates.

NewsX digital marketing consultant Sandeep Amar told Indiantelevision.com that people are primarily going to watch the live feed on the internet for a more targeted search. “The constituency-level data will be seen more on the news websites because most of the time TV channels are projecting numbers from bigger constituencies where they have a celebrity candidate,” he noted.

Indian Express (Digital) CEO Sanjay Sindhwani shared that he is expecting a significant jump in the number of people following their website on counting day, as compared to 2014. “Our conservative estimate is a 7X-8X growth over the numbers that we hit in 2014. We are expecting more than 10 million users on the main Indian Express website alone and close to 20 million users across all the group sites put together,” he stated.

Obviously, being a big ticket event, the counting day has been recording a significant interest from the advertisers as well. As shared by Sindhwani, most of the advertisers are betting big on the day. He named Vivo, Nerolac Paints and Bank of Baroda as the top players who are putting money on their website.

TRA Research CEO N Chandramouli stated that some of the big advertisers might still be relying majorly on television but brands debuting into election-based advertising will prefer the digital route.

He quoted, “Different brands, in different stages of their lifecycle and with varied budgets will choose media that meets limiting criteria. Some among the big advertisers will use TV higher, just because they have to be present lest FOMO comes into play. Brands debuting into election-based advertising will be far more conservative and may prefer the less expensive digital route.” Digital is going to play a key role for advertisers because it offers cheaper access to a larger audience.

Carat India SVP Mayank Bhatnagar noted that television has high hopes with the viewership number on counting day and have planned accordingly. Hindi channels are offering ad slots at a nominal rate of Rs 1-3 lakh but digital is still going to play an important role as the CPM on digital is far lower than the idiot box.

Carat India SVP Mayank Bhatnagar noted, “Advertisements on digital are not going to be IO-based and the CPMs might go a little higher based on the demand-supply ratio. But right now, social media and other digital platforms offer far lower CPM than TV. Even if the CPM goes higher than general, it will definitely be far lower than TV.”

Advertisers are inclined to promote themselves on 23 May as it will offer a greater viewership, probably, than any other event this year but it is going to be difficult for all of them to get registered. There is going to be a lot of clutter and for the brands to stay relevant, they have to be tactical and smart with their approach.

RSH Global CMO Poulomi Roy stated that campaigns or products being launched during elections will work well because the viewership will be at the peak. She, however, noted that the campaign has to be well-planned and running on optimum frequency to create a recall.

She said, “If a brand plans a tactical topical campaign around elections wherein a new set of creative is developed keeping brand proposition and any aspect of election as a topic (which will mostly be social messaging) then developing a media plan in mass media or digital around election content will deliver results. Brands should be able to understand the sentiments of viewers and the content space properly before planning anything.”

Bhatnagar also mentioned the need for brands to be consistent and relevant during the complete election period with their campaigns if they want a higher recall. He presented the view that the brands that have had a month-long connection with election-based advertising has a better chance of performing than the brands who will be taking up digital activities on the particular day of counting. He stated that a number of smaller advertisers will be willing to leverage on that day but it is not a feasible approach. A brand will have to culminate a full-fledged campaign based around elections on 23 May for optimal results.

Conversely, Amar believes that the ads might get lost on the counting day as people are not willing to divert their attention from the numbers. “Even while they watch the election results on TV, they shift the channel as soon as an ad comes up and move on to one that is going live. The focus (of the audience) is heavily on the results.”

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