Geo-targeting: The way forward for TV advertising

Channels could soon have different prime-time shows for rural and urban India or the big metros and small towns. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

A television viewer in Meerut and another in Mumbai may be watching a cricket match on the same sports channel, but the two may not necessarily see the same television commercial when the channel takes an ad break. For the detergent brand that appears on the channel in Meerut does not have a market in Mumbai and wants to restrict its promotion to Uttar Pradesh.

Some years ago, this kind of a split in advertising messages may not have been possible. But today geo-targeting of ads is growing rapidly enough for the KPMG-Ficci report on the media and advertising industry to take note of it. The report, titled The Future: now streaming, was released last month.

“Advertisers can choose to air different ads on the same channel in different regions to maximise the impact and reduce costs…Geo-targeting can help attract new advertisers, especially small businesses and regional players…to launch advertisements exclusively in their concerned region of operation,” the report said.

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“Currently, geo-targeting contributes to a very small portion of the TV advertising pie but industry participants expect its share to increase significantly,” it added.

Media other than television is already sharply targeted. Newspapers have local editions, FM radio stations are city-specific while billboards are area-specific. Even the consumption of media on Internet-enabled devices is personalized. Now, backed by technology, the television business—which did not have options for targeted advertising earlier—is undergoing a transformation. Internet devices and IP (Internet Protocol)-connected set-top boxes are enabling targeted advertising on TV. And at least two companies are working on promoting geo-targeting.

While AdSharp was launched by Star India in 2014 for its own network of channels, Amagi Media Labs was founded by three engineer-entrepreneurs in 2008.

Business for the company picked up in the last three years, says Amagi co-founder Baskar Subramanian. Currently, the company works with 25 channels including Times Now, ET Now, Romedy Now and Zoom in the Times Network as well as those in the Zee Entertainment network. The media-tech company also works with Colors, the Hindi general entertainment channel of Viacom18.

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Ad spots are replaced in different markets with the help of Amagi’s unique patented watermarking technology. The process takes place after the channel signal is received at the cable operators’ headends.

On the one hand, this provides a platform to small brands to advertise on national TV channels.

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