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Adversioning advertising gains currency

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MUMBAI: A national jewellery brand had to reach out to the diverse markets in south India. It needed a solution that would allow it to simultaneously beam on a national television channel different creatives for the diverse markets in the region, each featuring a regional celebrity.

Thanks to technology solutions, the jewellery company could get its different creatives beamed to relevant demographics at the same time on the same channel.

The concept is called adversioning or geo-targeted advertising in the media world.

Technology for such simultaneous telecast of different advertisements on the same channel has been available for a few years now but advertisers have begun to use it on a significant scale only recently.

Advertisers are increasingly making use of geo-targeting. These include fast moving consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever.

The geo-targeted advertisements in value terms now account for about 20 per cent of total ads on television. In the US, the proportion of such ads is almost 40 per cent. According to GroupM, total advertising spend on television in 2013 was Rs 16,860 crore.

But the potential for geo-targeted ads in India is seen to be much, much higher considering the extent of diversity in the country, says SureWaves founder Rajendra Khare. SureWaves is a technology solution provider for geo-targeted advertising and had provided its service to the national jewellery brand but decline to disclose the name of the brand.

Khare says it makes sense for any advertiser to opt for geo-targeted advertising to not only break the language barrier but also to target differently the different the socio-cultural groups across the country with a sharp and direct emotional connect.

So, the next time when you are on a trip to Chennai, don’t be surprised if you come across an ad by Fastrack Cabs on a national channel.

The Indian market is a complicated one. From regional differences to numerous brands, one needs to stand out in a clutter to catch the attention of as many consumers as possible.

Apart from SureWaves, there is amagi Media Labs that offers advertisers and broadcasters solutions for geo-targeted advertising.

Geo-targeting or adversioning is done with the help of a barcode system and cloud-based infrastructure on which TVCs are stored. The technologies solutions then enable playing of different ads in different regions on the same air-time band on a particular channel.

There’s a possibility of making available different solutions to meet different needs. For instance, Carat Media which handles baby products maker Libero’s account, wanted to reach out to non-Marathi female audience in Maharashtra. Amagi’s technology enabled Libero to use channels with a national footprint for the launch campaign of Libero in a specific market like Maharashtra.

Amagi which had to answer a lot of questions when it started out in 2008 feels that those doubts have now been put to rest.

“Today, largest national players like HUL, GSK too want to follow a regional plan and have different communication depending on the region,” says Amagi’s co-founder KA Srinivasan.

Geo-targeting or adverisioning implies customised broadcast of creative communication to different markets in the same ad slot. In other words, it means splitting up of the national beam of a broadcaster into local beams akin to what national newspapers do for their local editions.

‘How can we sell a standardised product to local and different consumers?’ has been a dilemma for most marketers. However, with the adversioning concept, things are supposed to change.

According to GroupM Trading (CTG) south Asia Managing Partner Prasanth Kumar, who is a big votary of adversioning, says, “clients can benefit in multiple ways as spill-over reduces, national channels can be used to run local promotions, the same 30 second slot can be used for multiple creatives (different brands in different markets, different language versions in specific markets). Majority of the clients who have used this availability are local clients.”

There might be companies which don’t feel the need to make an ad locally oriented, but there are a few which opt to geo-target ads. One of the main reasons a brand may geo-target ads is because it only offers services/products within specific areas. There is a huge and compelling demographic component involved with geography that can influence click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rates as well.

Recalling how cable operators’ years ago would show local advertisements, Havas Media India managing director Mohit Joshi says if we take a look at the southern market, one can see a lot of local players which isn’t the case in the northern part of the country. “The concept makes sense for local clients/marketers a lot as it gives them a chance to target their TG.”

But will the local marketers be able to find their place and compete with national players? Answers Kumar, “Yes. Local advertisers form a large part of the 2,000 plus clients who have tried this concept. They see value in placing their ads on national channels as these channels were earlier much more difficult to afford and local players have specific market requirements.”

On the same lines, Pipal Majik CEO CD Mitra highlights how brands too have been emphasizing on “localisation” and if adversioning helps them achieve it then many will opt for it.

“For example, if a particular tea brand wants to sell its particular blends in certain regions then this is the perfect solution for them to advertise in a certain regional beam of a national channel.”

Talking about the cost of geo-targeted ads, experts say creative production cost is just a small segment of the overall marketing budget a brand allocates.

The credit for the growth of the format and news, movies and GEC channels experimenting with it goes to the fact that vernacular media has been growing at a much quicker pace than the national media, Kumar elaborates.

“The reason for the growing importance of Class B and Class C towns for advertisers, the growing education levels, expansion of vernacular publications into new markets with categories like retail, real estate along with FMCG is fuelling the growth,” he adds.

Khare adds that a marketer needs to utilize both national as well as regional channels to reach out to as many people as possible. “It is not national vs. regional, but how one can utilize both for its benefit. We have to also understand the importance of spot TV which is the most cost effective way for advertisers to market.”

Technology plays an important part of the concept to become a part of life, soon. Joshi says, “If the technology is not there to support the concept then it will surely fall flat in its face. We as an industry will have to invest in it to see it grow and become an integral part of advertising soon.”

Apart from this, industry professionals feel that pricing too plays an important role here. The competition between national and local players will vary and also depend on it. “Broadcasters in the end need money. If they get it from local players or national ones, it doesn’t matter. Hence, stakeholders have to come up with attractive pricing and strategies to make it real,” says Mitra when asked if broadcasters would opt for local marketers over national ones.

Zee TV has been selling ad spots split into regional beams since late last year and has had a good experience with it. Zeel chief sales officer Ashish Sehgal says, “The concept has helped us  increase number of clients if we offer them a strategic plan which will help them reach out to their TG better.”

He further says the sum of revenues from a divided ad spot has been higher than the revenue it would have got having sold it as one national beam.

Sehgal says Zee TV has seen an increase in local marketers through geo-targeting. “In the past few months, around 25-30 SMEs have come to us to use the platform.”

Bennett Coleman & Co president corporate development Sunil Lulla says adversionsing is very much a reality now with many brands and broadcasters using it.

However, he says that a broadcaster has to be clear about this with the clients otherwise it can hurt some advertisers who pay for a national beam but sometimes local/regional beams could be sold to another client. “We (broadcasters) have to understand that there is a big (regional) market which can be tapped through this and it will benefit everyone.”

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