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Government okays Rs 630 crore for publicity blitz

As the UPA prepares an aggressive campaign strategy to highlight its flagship programmes in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Union Cabinet has approved a budget of Rs 630 crore on awareness campaigns for the 12th five year plan. The new budget is an over 100 per cent increase compared to the Rs 293 crore that was spent during the previous five year period (2007-2012). The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a proposal by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the scheme ‘development communication and information dissemination” during the 12th Plan period (2012-2017) with an outlay of Rs 630 crore. According to officials as one year (2012-13) of the 12th five year plan period (2012-2017) is already over, the budget will be utilised for the remaining four years. Close to Rs 200 crore is likely to be spent during the current fiscal. According to the rules, three per cent of total flagship schemes should be on awareness and advertisements and as programmes worth over Rs 1 lakh crore are already running, the advertisement budget should have been much higher. However, only Rs 630 crore has been allowed. Even though the Ministry had asked for Rs 900 crore budget, it was revised to Rs 630 crore in the proposal prepared early this year. As of now, the government is running advertisements on Bharat Nirman campaign to highlight its right-based schemes. Now, in the second phase, various media wings of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry would educate people about schemes like Direct Benefit Transfer, Aadhar, Food Security, and Land Acquisition.  The campaign would be for three months - August, September and October after which five states will go for elections. Officials said the UPA Government has launched several welfare and employment generation schemes for the people in general and for the disadvantaged sections in particular by creating entitlements backed by legal guarantees for an individual’s rights. “The main objective of the government under these schemes is all round development of the people,” officials added. Under the “development communication and information dissemination” scheme approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, Rs 630 crore would be used in the next five years for making people ‘aware of the benefits envisaged in various government schemes so that the benefit of these schemes is realised to the maximum possible extent.” “The schemes will be implemented by various media units of the I&B ministry through various modes of awareness generation such as; outdoor publicity, electronic and print media, public information campaigns, social media, conducted tours, press tours, people to people contact, special outreach programmes, live art and culture shows,” official statement said.

Top advertisers decide to push back on b'casters' 'TAM demands'

In an emergency conference call that took place between India’s top advertisers yesterday, a decision was taken to push back on broadcasters’ demands off TAM – broadcasters want the ratings body to move to a monthly ‘reach only’ data system. According to reliable sources, who spoke with exchange4media on the condition of anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the matter, the top 20 advertisers who participated in the call also decided not to subscribe to any alternative broadcaster driven ratings system in case the networks decide to unsubscribe to TAM or force TAM to accede to their demands. A decision was also taken to explore ways to create a funding model for an alternate, advertiser-driven ratings system in case the broadcasters make a final decision to stay out of the TAM system. According to sources, advertisers on the call were concerned about TAM's dependence upon channels for its revenues and want to have a say on the way out of current impasse. Advertisers feel that they need to have objective data at least weekly to make right decisions on advertising spends. 

Nokia to partner with Nimbuzz for one-on-one advertising

Finnish handset maker Nokia will partner with instant messaging app Nimbuzz to engage with its 25 million strong user base in India. Under this partnership, Nimbuzz will develop a co-branded chat buddy, which will allow the company to reach out to potential and existing users on the mobile phone. The Chat Buddy will be active in July.  Nokia will position the chat buddy as a contest with 'Nokia Lucky Sunday' that will push advertisements to people who opt for receiving them. The channel will work like an interaction route between the Nokia brand and millions of Nimbuzz users. Nokia will be able to push its Windows Phone products through this channel and become one of the bigger advertisers on the app, said Nimbuzz CEO, Vikas Saxena. Nokia also plans to replicate the platform on the Nimbuzz global platform.  Nimbuzz's branded chat buddies intend to provide more versatility to marketers and advertisers by ensuring targeted and effective communication with the relevant audience. The platform allows brands to engage with their audience on an individual basis. Viral Oza, Director-Marketing, Nokia India, said, "We are constantly looking at innovative and engaging ways to connect with our consumers. Being a consumer driven brand, we are very pleased to partner with Nimbuzz for this exciting campaign and for creating an incredible platform to talk to our users. We are confident that initiatives such as 'The Lucky Sunday' will further strengthen our bond with the smartphone consumers."

Google’s Internet balloon project could be coming to India soon

Internet search giant Google may implement its prestigious ‘Project Loon’, which is a balloon-mounted Internet access service, in various countries including India. “We are doing a pilot project in New Zealand and going to see how it works. Once we get satisfactory results, we will be in a position to implement it in other countries as well,” Google’s Managing Director, Global Channel Sales, Todd Towe told reporters here today. “Interestingly, while we are still in the pilot phase, we have been getting multiple queries from different countries including India, which are interested in implementing the project,” Towe said. However, he said, there is no time-frame to launch the project in India. ‘Project Loon’ balloons, which carry Internet signal antennas, float in the stratosphere, at a height twice as high as air planes. They are carried around the earth by winds and can be steered by rising or lowering them to a particular altitude, with winds moving in the desired direction. Customers may connect to Google’s balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, onto the Internet and back to the earth. A ‘Project Loon’ pilot project began on June 15 at the 40th parallel South, which is a circle of latitude that is 40 degrees south of the earth’s equatorial plane, when 30 balloons launched from New Zealand’s South Island beamed Internet signals to a small group of pilot testers. The experience of these pilot testers will be used to refine the technology and shape the next phase of ‘Project Loon’, Google had said earlier. Speaking about the company’s Premier Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Partner Programme, Rowe said within 10 months of its launch, the model has gained significant momentum in India. “We have partnered with 16 medium sized companies, with over 3,000 sales people who have been trained to help SMEs gain from digital advertising. In the next one year, we are looking to significantly increase our presence in South India by doubling our partners and add another 3,000 sales force though these partners,” Rowe said. Jaspreet Bindra, CEO, Getit Infomedia, one of the largest Premier SME Partners of Google India said that it had entered into a strategic alliance with Google India, though its SME programme to increase Getit’s presence in the country.

Twitter looks to expand its online advertising base in India

The Indian online advertising landscape is set to witness more intense competition in the near term with the entry of the world’s biggest microblogging website Twitter Inc. into a market dominated by the world’s largest search engine Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. Twitter is in the process of putting together a bigger team that will focus on key partnerships with television channels, network carriers and operators, as the San Francisco-based microblogging site looks to tap into newer revenue streams to reach its 2014 global sales target of $1 billion. India currently has nearly 20 million Twitter users, according to a joint study by market research firm IMRB International and the Internet and Mobile Association of India. “On Twitter, we have conversations between the Planning Commission and citizens or celebrities and celebrities…or IPL teams talking to another IPL team on Twitter. It’s important to think of conversation as our product,” said Jaitly, India Market Director at Twitter, during an all-day social media conference in Bangalore. He added that another focus area for Twitter in India would be to target the country’s rapidly developing start-up ecosystem. “Media companies around the world are doing really interesting things using Twitter. One of the things we would really like to work on is nurturing an ecosystem of entrepreneurs who are really interested in innovating on top of Twitter data,” said Jaitly, citing the example of Bangalore-based media start-up Frrole, which has designed a social media online newspaper using Twitter data and news feeds. According to a study on the Indian media and entertainment industry by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and KPMG, the Indian online advertising market stood atRs.2,000 crore in 2012, and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 32% to Rs.7,400 crore in 2017. Google, which runs the popular advertising platform for brands known as AdWords, currently dominates the online digital advertising market in India with a majority share, followed by Facebook, according to several experts tracking the sector and media buyer estimates. Google is currently projected to control about a third of the digital advertising market this year. Exact figures on the market share of Google and Facebook in India could not be verified. “Google leads the digital ad market by a huge margin followed by Facebook. Twitter is not amongst the top line-up as of now,” said Praseed Prasad, National Director (digital trading), GroupM, a media buying agency. Several experts tracking the sector said India, which has an Internet user base of nearly 150 million, presented a huge opportunity for a company such as Twitter, despite the presence of the likes of Google and Facebook. “Our broadband connectivity, our Internet penetration is still at very low levels. From a macro standpoint, there is a lot of headroom for growth,” said Jehil Thakkar, Head of Media and Entertainment at KPMG India. “It’s not different from what we saw in the US where Google was already dominant when Facebook really became popular. The fact that Google is dominant in India doesn’t really bother Facebook or Twitter in that sense. Advertising follows users—there are huge user populations on both Facebook and Twitter.

Phase II of ad cap comes into effect; channels follow TRAI mandate

Indian TV viewers are going to be a delighted bunch. Reason: the number of TV commercials being bombarded at them on TV channels just got reduced. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) ad cap regime imposed on news and general entertainment channels came into force today with an upper limit of 20 and 16 minutes per hour respectively. This will run till 30 September, following which the 12-minute rule will come into play from 1 October. Both Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) have said their members are following the regime, the first phase of which came into effect on 29 May when its members agreed not to exceed 30 minutes of advertising per hour. IBF president Man Jit Singh and NBA president K V L Narayan Rao told that the TV channels would stand by their commitment to the government since this was now the law. The final decision of 29 May had taken a lot of wrangling, with the matter also going to the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal against TRAI which insisted that it was only implementing a regulation which was part of the Cable TV Networks Rules 1994. Following this, the IBF Board finally appointed a committee of five persons - K V L Narayan Rao, Zee Entertainment CEO Puneet Goenka, Asianet managing director K Madhavan and Disney UTV media managing director K Anand with the assistance of secretary general Shailesh Shah - to research, debate, consult and arrive at what will work. The committee admitted in its report that some channels especially those in regional languages ran more than 30 minutes of advertising per hour. Shah, however, claimed to that the per hour ad time works out to just over 11 minutes if a full-day average is taken. The TRAI, however, says it is going to keep a sharp eye on each channel to ensure that there is no violation of the time cap set on the TV broadcast industry. “TRAI would continue to monitor the timing of commercials per hour by various channels,” says TRAI principal advisor on broadcasting and media N Parameswaran.

It is quite likely that the air time reduction could result in revenue losses for the channels. Though none of the broadcast bodies have clearly highlighted how much this erosion could be, media buyers do acknowledge that broadcasters will no doubt hike ad rates with the implementation of 12 minute ad cap on 1 October.“The impact cannot be felt as of now. Once the ad time comes down to 12 minutes (across GECs) in October that is when the crunch will be felt,” said an executive from a leading media buying and planning company. June to September is a lean period for advertising on channels, especially considering it is the monsoon season all over India. There are also few who believe that the ad cap restriction will improve quality of viewing. Madison Group COO- buying Neel Kamal Sharma opines, “It is a win-win situation. On one hand the advertisers will benefit as now they can target their audiences in an effective way. The broadcasters will also increase their ad rates. Parallel to this even digitization will bring in extra revenue for the broadcasters, decreasing their dependence on ad revenue.” Sharma hopes for the transition to take place in a fair manner, which has been recognized by all without shifting the entire burden onto advertisers. “We must take a long term view of the situation and handle it carefully as some people may try to take advantage of the situation to increase rates disproportionately which may neither be good for them nor good for TV industry’s growth in the long run as many advertisers have already started exploring alternative options,” he adds. The message for broadcasters is clear: take tiny steps - together with your advertising partners. Don't go for the long jump; you might end up jumping alone.

Google pressured to crack down on advertisements for illegal products

Nebraska and Oklahoma joined Mississippi in pressuring Google Inc to crack down on Internet advertisements for drugs, including powerful painkillers that are sold without a prescription, and other counterfeit products. In a letter sent to Google, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt complained about Google's practice of placing before some YouTube videos advertisements for pharmacies willing to sell Percocet and oxycontin without a prescription. Oxycontin and Percocet are powerful painkillers that are hot sellers on the black market. The videos also advertise guides on how to forge passports and drivers licenses in addition to offering counterfeit merchandise, the letter said."Not only are the activities depicted or promoted in the above-described videos illegal in and of themselves, but in the case of document forgery, the how-to guide could be instrumental in the commission of other crimes ranging from under-age drinking to acts of terrorism," they wrote. YouTube, which is owned by Google, said in a statement on Tuesday that it has stringent advertising guidelines."(We) work to prevent ads appearing against any video, channel or page once we determine that the content is not appropriate for our advertising partners," the statement said. Google said in a blog post in mid-June that it had been vigorous in working to limit drug advertisements to legitimate companies that comply with the law and to combat what it called "rogue online pharmacies."That blog post followed a move by Mississippi's attorney general, Jim Hood, who had said that he was prepared to subpoena Google as part of a probe into allegations the Web search company facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products. Hood, who heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General, said that Mississippi was investigating Google's role in helping consumers find counterfeit products and illegal copies of movies, games and music. In 2011, Google forfeited $500 million for allowing Canadian pharmacies to place advertisements to illegally sell prescription drugs to US customers.

A single stop shop for streaming live television on mobile phones

As the use of smartphones increases in India, real-time streaming of television shows on phone screens is seen as the next area of opportunity by many. A boon to people on the move, particularly young users, such streaming services have proliferated in recent times. One such app, called NexGTv, developed by DigiVive, has seen millions of downloads from the Google Play store for the Android platform, the world’s top smartphone operating system. The app is also available on Apple Inc.’s App Store and Blackberry App World. NexGTv allows live and deferred streaming of more than 100 television stations in India on a mobile phone. “We wanted to create a single-stop shop where people can get everything they want, channels they would like to watch anytime anywhere,” says G.D. Singh, director, DigiVive. Once the app was downloaded in large numbers, it attracted the attention of telecom operators, and DigiVive now has agreements with many of them in India to offer operator-specific content, says Singh. “Today, we are one of the most popular mobile TV applications,” he claims. The app comes with features associated with satellite TV distributors such as an English programming guide, re-ordering of channels and programme reminders. The experience is similar to watching TV, albeit on a small screen. There are four categories of content that dominate the channel mix—general entertainment, sports, movies and news. Currently, NexGTv has 140 channels and has clocked a total of 14 million downloads across various platforms. Android drives the downloads with 60% share, while 30% belongs to Nokia’s Symbian, Windows Mobile has 6-7% share and iOS about 3-4%. “We have seen a lot of traction in Windows download since we launched it six months ago. So by this year-end we see it growing its share,” said Singh. The mobile streaming space is crowded as there are a lot of services available for people to choose from. The major share rests with YouTube, which pioneered the user-generated content stream. Others like MunduTV, BoxTV, Ditto TV and so on are also sprucing their game. “Our uniqueness lies in the user-friendly UI (user interface) design of the app. It is easy to use, clutter-free, has adaptive streaming capability,” Singh said. “The other unique feature is the ReplayTV.” Replay TV offers viewers an option to watch the last seven episodes of popular programmes. It also offers services such as on-demand movies. NexGTv’s revenue model is based on two streams: subscriptions and mobile video advertising. It follows a so-called freemium model of subscription, which is a mix of free and premium content. Seventy channels are free for any user who downloads the free NexGTv app. A user can move to premium packs, which provide access to other 50 channels. The premium packs costs between Rs.75-100 a month, depending on the telecom operator. “When it comes to conversion from free to premium, it is a very pull-based approach. We don’ t push anyone to subscribe to a premium pack. They do it on their own when they think it is giving them something more at an affordable price,” said Singh. The conversion rate is 5-7% from free to premium, he said. Video advertising is done on free channels. “Also, free channels give me hits, so it is easy to make money from them with ads,” said Singh. The company doesn’t do banner ads but video ads only, which are placed between the videos. For operators and the company, it is a win-win situation because they earn revenue from both data use and subscriptions, he said. Over 30,000 hours of programming is consumed every day on NexGTv, Singh claims. For any user, the average monthly consumption is 71 minutes. It gets 90,000-100,000 unique users every day. The top category is entertainment and includes channels such as Sony TV, Star TV, Colors and LifeOk. “There is a lot of demand for two- or three-day old programming,’ says Singh. “People are curious to know what happened in the serial yesterday, so Replay TV is one of the most popular feature.” Singh is a firm believer in healthy competition. “The space is very tricky. We don’t want to do what others are doing. We came with a TV mind-set and we have found our space in that segment,” he said. On future prospects for the company, he plans to venture into other data products with niche content. Strategic tie-ups are another area the company may explore. “At the moment, we would like to consolidate our position from the revenue prospective,” Singh said. “We would also like to produce programmes exclusively meant for NexGTv and monetize that on our network.” Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth Awards.

Face detection technology to revolutionize advertising industry

Cameras installed in Amscreen's digital advertising display screens are able to determine the gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers. The Europe wide advertising network Amscreen is launching a new platform that is making waves in the advertising industry. Its unique face detection technology, originally developed by leading automated audience measurement firm Quividi, provides advertisers with invaluable insight into exactly who is seeing their adverts. Cameras installed in Amscreen's digital advertising display screens are able to determine the gender, age, date, time and volume of the viewers. This is helping brands ensure that they are reaching the right audience which allows them a degree of accountability that has never before been possible within this advertising sector. This unique real-time audience insight from Amscreen allows brands to review and optimize campaigns, meaning that they can tailor their content to reach a specific target audience at a certain time of day. With a network of over 6,000 digital screens and a weekly audience of over 50 million, Amscreen is further solidifying its position as the most insight-led outdoor advertising channel. Amscreen CEO Simon Sugar said, "It is time for a step-change in advertising - brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are too. Through our Face Detection technology, we want to optimize our advertiser’s campaigns, reduce wastage and in-turn delivers the type of insight that only online has previously been able to achieve."

Google eyes Indian businesses for digital advertising

Global search engine provider Google will train small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the southern states to grow their business by adopting digital advertising, a senior official said here today. “We will train our partners in the southern region to provide expertise in developing and launching digital campaigns for SME businesses,” Google managing director Todd Rowe said in a statement here. The training will offer end-to-end solutions, including search engine marketing, localized solutions across Google’s properties and mobile advertising platform. “During the training programme, partners will have access to our products, co-branded market collateral and research through our marketing and sales support,” Rowe said. The company roped in 16 mid-size firms for the training programme since September 2012 when it was launched in other regions of the country. “We have trained about 3,000 sales people to help SMEs gain from digital advertising. We hope to replicate the model in the southern region to add 3,000 more sales force by doubling our partner base,” Rowe observed. According to Getit Infomedia chief executive Jaspreet Bindra, with the internet changing the landscape of how customers reach out to businesses, the search platform provider (Google) sees phenomenal growth in the SMEs adopting the seamless network to expand their business. “We have entered into a strategic alliance with Google India through its premier SME partner programme to increase our presence across the country. With 1,000 plus sales force and presence across 150 cities, we have engaged over 3,000 SMEs to manage their digital advertising efforts. We are now looking to become a premier supermarket for all digital advertising needs of SMEs across the country,” Bindra said. Google India has 3,000 partners across 165 cities, which helped over 15,000 SMEs start their digital advertising journey. “We aim to get 500,000 SMEs across the country on online with a website by 2015,” Rowe added.

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