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In-content advertising on linear TV can have maximum impact: LS Krishnan

Krishnan, CEO and Director of Whisper Media in India, points out that the biggest challenge right now is getting more marketers to realize the value of ICA in advertising.

No one really likes to be interrupted, especially when engrossed in content. Sometimes unwanted ads suddenly start popping up leading to distraction. That’s why brands are investing heavily in creating uninterrupted ads for modern viewers – whose attention spans are lower and their need for instant gratification is higher. In-content advertising (ICA) is one of the most useful and creative ways to serve ads to potential customers when they are most receptive and attentive when watching a show intently. While digital platforms are rapidly adopting this form of advertising, brands are still slow to open up to the idea of ​​using this form of communication on traditional television.

However, Whisper Media, a global company specializing in in-content advertising on linear TV, is bringing the revolution to India. The company’s CEO and director in India, LS Krishnan, recently had a video call with to talk about the company, its operations in India and how brands are responding to in-content advertising on traditional media.

On Whisper Media’s Indian operations

Speaking about Whisper Media’s trip to India, Krishnan said that despite the pandemic-induced slowdowns and challenges, growth has been steady. “We launched in India in 2019 and got widespread support from broadcasters. We partnered with the Star and Zee networks in 2020 and our revenue growth was 100% year-over-year. In 2021, we worked with over 150 companies, over 75 brands and integrated our ads across 15 network channels. We’ve had a total of over 15,000 integrations over the year and that’s only expected to increase this year. »

Why in-content advertising on linear television

While in-content advertising makes a lot of sense in alternative media like digital and cinema, where production and post-production times are typically longer and it’s easier for advertisers to collaborate with producers , linear television seems to be a difficult space to satisfy.

Krishnan agrees: “Yes, television is a very different medium. Not only are the timelines compact, but the storylines, especially in GEC shows, keep changing. But advertisers need to understand that this is a maximization medium. It gives incremental range with better efficiency. And with in-content advertising, you can reach audiences when they’re most alert. »

That’s why Whisper Media has developed a rigorous process for inserting ads into content on linear television.

Krishnan clarifies: “We have a tight process and a great team of people in place who ensure that we are able to deliver the advertisements in a timely manner. We work directly with broadcasters and no additional setup is required from the end of production; which means we don’t ask them to shoot anything more. We embed our ads, which are mostly in the form of OOH banners like you would see around you, during post-production. We also create store branding and introduce offers through these banners seamlessly between shows without interrupting the flow of content. »

Whisper Media does not offer contextual advertising at this time to simplify the process and these ads are not shown on digital platforms. “The audience on TV and on OTT is very different. We don’t want the advertiser wasting valuable marketing money on a medium that can’t perform as well. So we’re just focusing on television right now,” Krishnan said.

However, the company plans to launch its branch of bespoke OTT solutions in the next quarter, he added.

The math and science of it

Brands have to spend between Rs 15 and Rs 30 lakh to have their in-content ads shown on regional channels by Whisper Media. Rates increase for HSM channels, where it is 60-80 lakhs per campaign. “We suggest that a brand initially invests in at least 2-3 weeks of activity to get a good return on investment,” Krishnan pointed out. What brands get from in-content advertising on linear TV is better attrition, a clean view, frequency for the media plan, and a good set of channels with popular content.

Krishnan explained, “We only put one branded ad in an episode to make sure the viewer didn’t feel bombarded. We work with Star and Zee, the biggest networks right now and they have all the best shows when it comes to TRP. We have BARC measured monitors which can give the advertiser a good idea of ​​the reach they are getting. We also conduct free brand suitability studies, which are one of the key foundations of our business. »

A head start for Whisper Media and ICA in linear television

Krishnan is rather optimistic about the future of in-content advertising on linear TV, as he sees plenty of room for growth. However, he believes the biggest challenge right now is getting more marketers to realize the value of this form of advertising.

He said: “Although many advertisers are showing strong interest in this form of advertising, many categories are not investing as much as they should. The biggest challenge right now is getting more of them to see the power and potential of in-content advertising. Once they’ve made the first try, there’s no going back. But generating interest initially is something we are working on in depth.

Krishnan therefore aims to expand the categories and brands they work with by 2022. “This year, we want to expand into several regional markets and integrate more brands and categories.”

He concluded the discussion by saying that the company expects 3X revenue growth this year. “We are very positive for the year and expect to outdo ourselves,” he joked positively.