Perspective | IPL 8 set to be a big draw; Digital to witness growth

It’s the 8th season of the IPL and the ad inventory, so to say is full with the broadcaster this time. Indeed a good sign because there’s only one sport in the country that gives the maximum reach to brands.

In the extended cricket season which begins today, there is a lot of excitement among audiences about who will win the IPL this year. We hope audiences cling on to that excitement. The ones who should really worry are brands because it is going to be a ‘ratings dark period.’

To know more about what the IPL will bring in its eighth season we caught up with Raghu Iyer, CEO Rajasthan Royals, LK Gupta, CMO, Cardekho, Ajay Rawal, National Marketing Head – JK Ansell Ltd, Karthik Lakshminarayan, Madison COO, Tushar Vyas, veteran digital media specialist and Managing Partner, GroupM South Asia, Navin Khemka, Managing Partner, Maxus.

In a candid conversation Iyer shared views on the response on IPL this year. He said, “It’s a robust platform for brands to come on and associate with. We are fortunate that brands like Ultratech, Kingfisher, and Lawman Jeans have partnered with us.  In all we have fifteen on ground partners. So it has been good so far. We have three new partners that have come on board this year, CP Plus, Kalasalingham University, a university from Chennai which is investing in IPL for the first time and then we have Spice Telecom.”

Speaking about the increase in sponsorship spends Iyer said, “Increase in sponsorship spends has been fairly robust. It hasn’t broken the ceiling as yet. There has been a 10-15% growth which is a good growth. And it all depends on the team’s consistency and that’s when you will see a significant jump.”

He jokingly concludes by saying, “Every time we expect the team to win and my expectation hasn’t changed at all.”

Vyas said, “IPL on Television has been doing well so far, so clients have already made decisions knowing about rating change. On IPL, Television is still the lead medium and rating change may not have any impact if changeover is smooth. Having said that, IPL consumption of digital platforms are growing and have seen healthy growth rates. It has emerged as a strong channel for advertisers to reach consumers in a more engaging mode. Digital gives larger canvas to activate brands and engage with the consumers.”

Gupta shares his views on will this extended cricket season be beneficial for brands in the absence of a proper measurement system. He said, “A lot of the initial media planning and buying is based on the consistent past performance of a property. Ratings come into the picture mostly during post analysis. The same is true for the IPL. It’s a great investment and as an advertiser we are not worried, because it has delivered in the past. Having said that, it’s wrong to say that ratings are 'absent'. TAM is continuing to record and serve data, while BARC takes its time to settle in. And hence for the sake of comparisons and analysis we will continue to look at TAM data.”

Rawal on the other hand opined, “Cricket is religion in India and no matter what, the IPL has only grown bigger and better. We all are aware of the staggering numbers of viewers expected to watch the IPL.”

Giving an agency perspective Khemka said, “IPL has been around for 7 years now and the ratings have stabilized. We can predict IPL ratings given the rich pool of data available across teams/ venues / matches etc. barring any major development during the season. The IPL has emerged as great platforms for consumers and advertisers alike, and one will still see great innovation during this season as well.”

On asking Lakshminarayan about the same, he said, “IPL is a huge draw amongst audiences and brands will get on because ratings are available. Also as it’s a new financial year for some brands they will have renewed budgets hence brands will surely get on.”

While brands are also looking at digital, Gupta said, “Digital media is being embraced like never before, but that does not mean that TV is dying. The big screen has its own place and continues to deliver mass impact. Hence we as a brand would not shy away from the IPL brand wagon on TV.”

Rawal said, “There doesn’t seem to be a respite in the number of brands wanting to associate with IPL and a lot of them are even continuing their association. Others are using the FCT and not associating with the teams. Lot of reports suggests that most of the IPL FCT inventory has been sold off already. Digital is especially helpful as people are watching the match on their mobiles while on the move.”

On asking Khemka about the same, he said, “Brands get into digital and Television with different objectives, therefore I am certain brands will be looking to maximize their efforts on both mediums. Television advertising will continue as the primary medium to watch the tournament is still TV, but with digital spends expected to grow at 35%, several brands will add to their digital budgets during IPL. This year we also have new platforms like Hotstar telecasting the IPL and one will see brands coming on board the app as well. Digital and social are dynamic platforms; brands have the option of coming on board mid tournament.”

Lakshminarayan adds, “While digital is bound to draw its share of audience; television will surely be a bigger draw.”

Gupta is also of the opinion that, “Each marketing medium has its own specific role. Be it digital, outdoor, radio or television; each medium goes on to serve a different purpose. Hence depending on their end marketing objective, brands are looking at all kinds of mediums to make their presence felt.”

Rawal on the other hand finds mobile a booming platform. He said, “Mobile seems to be a good media. Advertising seems to be growing on mobile and digital platforms after experimentation in the last IPL.”

Indeed there are lot more platforms apart from television. Khemka said, “IPL has opened a host of opportunities for all brands in India beyond television. Be it on ground, teams, other media, specific markets the opportunities are immense.”

Lakshminarayan concludes by saying, “Yes brands want to own every piece of this exciting game and hence they will always look for options. Also spends have been on a growth in the range of 15% plus.”

The current season roughly has 12 sponsors on board with the broadcaster while individual teams numbers are more or less similar for their on ground sponsors. By Archit Ambekar | Twitter: @aambarchit

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