Mumbai: As technology advances and consumer habits change due to the pandemic, television newsrooms navigate a new world. The pattern of consuming news content is also evolving with the rise of digital news platforms. The ever-changing landscape of news has witnessed tremendous growth & transformation over the last few years with various channels being launched in multiple languages on a steady basis.
During a panel discussion on ‘news on television: a marketers delight’ at the recently concluded NT Summit hosted by Indiantelevision.com, the industry insiders explored the challenges and opportunities in the news television segment presented by the new normal. The event, co-sponsored by Dalet, was held recently in New Delhi.
The panel saw industry stalwarts voice out their opinions & insights on the changes the space is undergoing and on the new avenues it opens up for marketers. Experts deliberated on the impact of news ratings and viewership data on advertising, and how marketers can leverage it.
The participants on the panel were News18 (HC) vice president and head - marketing and product Aditya Tandon; Zee Media marketing head Anindya Khare; ABP Network chief revenue officer Mona Jain; Just Dial chief marketing officer Prasun Kumar; Policybazaar Insurance Brokers VP & head of brand marketing Samir Sethi; and Maruti Suzuki India senior executive director marketing & sales Shashank Srivastava. The session was moderated by Dentsu Creative India chief executive officer Amit Wadhwa.
Ratings are key to take media planning decisions
Talking about the impact that audience measurement ratings such as Barc data has on marketers and brands’ advertising, Amit Wadhwa raised the point of whether the ratings help brands in their media planning decisions. Maruti’s Shashank Srivastava acknowledged that ratings help vastly when it comes to investing in the right news channels for a particular brand/segment, while adding that there has to be a stronger basis for the data measurements. He added that apart from relying on the ratings, the brand has its own checks in place.
Not being a part of the ratings is not a solution, Srivastava said while noting that there are channels who have gone that route. “That’s a confrontational approach, which is not going to help advertisers or even the platform or broadcasters. We need to find a solution on this by arriving at a consensus for the industry,” he added.
For this, the measurement parameters have to be defined and it should be done in a way that’s proper, essential, he opined, adding, “We are not going to invest a single rupee without having a strong basis for the investment.”
Most panelists agreed that ratings are important from a marketer’s perspective, as it bestows a clear picture about where to put in money and in which direction the marketing strategies and planning are moving. However, because of all the controversies around the ratings that one keeps hearing about, even with some channels opting out of it, and so on, it tends to plant seeds of doubt whether the ratings can be solely depend upon by a marketeer, Just Dial’s Prasun Kumar said. So as a marketeer, one does need to apply one's own thinking and findings on top of the ratings, as Maruti is doing, by having their own checks and strategies in place, he affirmed.
Having said that without audience measurement and numbers it’s not possible to decide on a solid television plan for a marketeer, said Kumar, adding that he does not know of any other way of doing that.
Reaching out to the right audience
Introducing some analytics into the conversation, Policybazaar’s Samir Sethi said that for a lot of digital brands one of the intentions of advertising is to generate immediate call to action from consumers. “What we do apart from looking at ratings when we make decisions on media planning or buying, is to also see the propensity of the eyeball to generate action.”
“We would basically try and measure if there was a visit generated on our website, post-airing of the ad spot,” continued Sethi. These methodologies help not only in identifying what genres or channels to pick, but also in trying to understand what hours people tend to react more on advertising or on which days of week are better, etc., he added.
Most of the brand spokespersons on the panel agreed that while the ratings helped them make media decisions, they were definitely not the sole decision-making criteria.
ABP Network’s Mona Jain pointed out that when the brands are spending so much money on investing in news channels, while also “reaching out to a significant audience that’s an opinion maker”, then it becomes important to deep dive and find which is the slot & which is the prime time that works on which particular channel.
“Because you’ll find that the dominant part of the TRPs comes from particular time slots,” explained Jain. “So, I would really like marketeers to spend some time analysing and understanding the data better.” There are many who use news genre as a commodity buying, not really looking at it from the point of engaging with the serious consumer that news genre draws, she rued, adding that it’s important too.
The panel deliberated about the importance of news channels in a media buying spectrum, what they can do differently for better outcomes and on picking the suitable platform for building their brand.
From the marketeer perspective, what news channels can do differently, Wadhwa asked the panel.
“We always talk about TV vs digital, as if these are two platforms which are running up against each other,” said Zee Media’s marketing head Anindya Khare.
“What I feel is that TV news channels need to be more inclusive and convergent, rather than being divergent. Wherein we can be more complementary to each other. If you are in a position to take leverage of the digital medium, for instance, for a particular target group (TG), digital medium may be more relevant and you might be getting a high return on investment (RoI) using digital. I think there is an immense opportunity for both the platforms to exist and grow further, provided there is an intelligence to how to use it in convergence,” added Khare.
Content is the king in advertising
From a marketeer perspective, on how to make the news genre work better, News18’s Aditya Tandon emphasised that it’s really about content. “I think technology, digital and all is fine, but for me at heart, it’s really about content. As an advertiser, if we can invest in and create great content, and work with marketers in doing that then I think that’ll never go out of fashion- it’s a win-win for everybody. And that’s an ongoing process that's never going to end,” he added.
Speaking from a holistic perspective, Kumar also pointed out that news channels may want to look at “how to arrest the transient audiences that’s moving out of this platform, and create a programming format for stickiness on the platform.” That will also help brands repose faith in a channel,” he added.
The panelists stated that the whole striking of balance between digital and linear is tough, from a marketer’s viewpoint as it’s a constantly evolving state of affairs. The participants looked forward to the day, the news channels reached some sort of a consensus on a valid audience and viewership data measurement that can be accepted unanimously across the board as a common platform for ratings. They also noted that both from a consumer’s as well as from a marketer’s point of view, perhaps it may be time to move beyond the prime-time news format of debates.