IPL 2019: Tech brands optimise ad slots to drive digital interactions

More than 60 per cent ads on TV and OTT platforms are tech ads.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been growing with every iteration from its inception in 2008 and has become one of the most celebrated Twenty20 match formats in India. With some of the biggest players in the world joining in with local up-and-coming talent, the IPL has garnered both Indian and international audiences. According to BARC data, the first three games of IPL 2019 witnessed a 31 per cent surge in viewership as compared to last year.

This massive audience can be the perfect opportunity for brands to position themselves and maximize their reach. Since we’re in the age of analytics, it would be a crime to leave out social media stats as well. In the month building up to IPL 2019 (20 February – 21 March), there were a total of 73,400 mentions and in terms of pure mentions across platforms and engagement stands at a whopping 1.1 million according to Talkwalker, a prominent social media analytics company based in Luxembourg.

So when it comes to India, one thing to keep in mind is that cricket has no language. It’s our nation's favourite and most popular sport. In terms of revenue generating potential, Star India Pvt Ltd understood the capabilities and won the rights to the IPL. Last year, Star India aired the IPL final in eight languages across 17 channels.

According to the BARC data analysed by, 22 per cent of the viewership for IPL has come from regional language feeds. These statistics establish how Star India has been able to expand into, and open regional markets well than previous IPL seasons on the Sony Pictures Network.

In fact, it is such a big opportunity for advertisers that Star TV has requested permission from the BCCI to broadcast political advertisements during the telecast of the games. While the IPL takes place from 23 March to 19 May, Lok Sabha elections are scheduled between 11 April and 19 May. For many political parties, this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with voters all across India.

Coming back to brands and advertising, another aspect to consider is the evolving arena. Consumers are now watching IPL content on OTT platforms such as Hotstar, SonyLiv, etc. Star India said it would offer targeted ads on its video streaming platform - Hotstar for IPL 2019.

As the viewing experience has diversified, advertisers are also changing their focus by using analytics to reach their TG with more relevant content. Broadcasters are increasing their efforts to take advantage of regional markets by targeting demographics on different platforms with different content as well.

But purchasing ad space during the IPL is not for every advertiser. Only the most successful and premium brands are able to buy the coveted space of 10-20 seconds. So in turn, the question doesn’t come down to national or local advertisers but rather tech brands and non-tech brands.

A majority of ads during the IPL (more than 60 per cent ads) on TV and OTT platforms are tech ads. Companies like Swiggy, Paytm, Netmeds and Make My Trip utilise these ad slots on mainstream media to drive interaction their own digital platforms.  

Another key factor when it comes to advertising is actually the year. The ICC World Cup will also take begin in May 2019 and hence ads on the IPL and World Cup 2019 may be seen as a double-edged sword. If well strategised, brands can take advantage of the opportunity to gain maximum traction during these mega events. On the other hand, if unplanned, ad budgets are likely to dwindle leaving sub-standard visibility during only a single event.

For brands not considering a direct tie-up with broadcasters, IPL fever can still be used to your advantage. If budgets are low, consider piggybacking on hashtags and contests to increase visibility and engagement. If adequate budgets are available, on-ground activations at stadiums can be a gold mine creating buzz amongst the attendees and connecting with your audience on a one-to-one basis.

Similar to the IPL teams competing against each other, brands are starting to compete against each other for ad slots. Being one of the biggest opportunities to reach audiences across the country, brands are likely to bid against one another for a coveted piece of the IPL pie.

(The author is CEO and MD at NeoNiche. The views expressed are his own and may not subscribe to them.)

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