Branded content has more relevance on news channels than any other genre, reveals News18 India's national revenue head, Sidharth Newatia. In a chat with Campaign India, Newatia adds that by aligning a brand with a news channel, one has a chance to reach out to penetrated markets and not tarnish its credibility.
Newatia also discussed the revival of BARC, which sector of brands are investing in the channel, and the challenges the news genre is facing...
How has the cluster's growth been so far this year, and has the revival of BARC helped the channel's ad revenue growth?
While the calendar year is coming to a close, we still have five months until the fiscal year closes. Overall, in the current market scenario, the Hindi news cluster is in good shape.
We have recorded double-digit growth in our revenue after the BARC ratings revived and our position reached the numero uno status.
What are some of the leverage points the channel is delivering for its brand associates, and what ROI can they expect for the same?
At Network18, in terms of our deliverables to brand associates, we provide them with better reach and help them achieve their marketing objectives through our Hindi and English news channels.
To give the best ROI for advertisers, we limit our inventories to ensure that the advertisers get profitable returns and reach out to targeted markets. Advertisers apart from taking the normal commercial inventory are heavily investing in the content commercial elements along with utilising the power of branded content.
When it comes to branded content, how can one ensure that they integrate content subtly without being too in the face?
When looking at branded content there is only one facet that news brings to the table, unlike any other genre which is credibility. When news channels partner with a brand it is usually for a social cause and isn’t pure play advertising.
For instance, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) partnered with us for our flagship property, ‘Mission Paani’ with its brand Harpic, where we aimed to spread awareness on water conservation. This type of branded content is not too in-your-face, it’s subtle and brings credibility to RB as a brand as well.
How do you ensure advertisers break the clutter and extract maximum brand recall on the channel?
Certain advertisers have also partnered with us on our IP lineup which gives them a 360-degree one-stop solution. One of the strategies for this year for us was to build an enviable intellectual property line-up which will be relevant to the masses.
Whereas, some advertisers take the route of ‘studio branding’ with us. For example, when Amazon Prime Video was launching ‘The Lord of the Rings - The Rings of Power’ or more recently when they were promoting NZ vs India series, they did a complete studio takeover, thereby separating themselves from the clutter.
Which sector of brands is heavily investing in the channel?
FMCG stands at the top position with 30% of the advertising pie and this trend seems to remain constant. In addition, we also have a big segment of digital services such as Amazon, Flipkart, PhonePe and travel tourism brands advertising on our channel.
What does the channel's marketing split look like?
We do different types of marketing campaigns according to our budgets. It ranges from things like brand building (for our brand associates) to promoting our shows on the channel.
Our media mix is usually a function of the objective we are trying to achieve. Our campaigns are usually 360-degree in nature but depending on which national state and target audience we are aiming to reach out to the nuances change.
This year we have taken a conscious call to roll out intellectual properties for the channel. Our marketing efforts are geared towards those IPs.
Could you tell us about some of the challenges News18 India is facing that are hampering the channel's growth?
The biggest challenge right now is not the number of advertisers on television but getting the volumes back to pre-covid levels. The volumes per advertiser have not seen the sharp increase that we were expecting. The reason for that is the rising input costs and hence the client's quarter lines have taken a hit. This is why clients have reduced their discretionary spending.
Even though the number of clients has increased, the ticket size per advertiser is a challenge for the industry.
To counter this challenge, we are trying to reach out to tier two and three cities. We are increasing the penetration of the news genre in those markets and showcasing brands who want to advertise with us the power of news. On the other hand, with these markets, we are showcasing how tier two and three brands can scale their organisation through the news.
Our efforts are dedicated to getting fresher advertisers from tier two-three markets and are willing to invest in a news brand.
As we are coming to the end of the year, what sort of trends are triumphing in the news genre space and what trends will take centre stage in 2023?
The convergence of digital and linear news will be the biggest trend going forward for the industry and for us as an organisation as well. We aim to be threadbare of change and will aim to provide strategies in this direction.