Broadcasters are increasingly buying premium television real estate in the form of landing pages. The channel that appears on the TV screen when a viewer switches on the set top box is the spot that every broadcaster wants.
Why? The objective is to amplify reach, drive traffic, build awareness and convert a visitor to a regular consumer.
Landing pages have a pivotal role in marketing efforts that are intended to grab more bang for buck, said Kumar Awanish, chief growth officer at Cheil India, an advertising agency.
However, there are differences of opinion over whether investing in landing pages is ethical, especially because it can influence a channel’s viewership figures and therefore, its rating, which is a key factor in attracting advertisers.
“It is as right as how a brand advertises on Google to appear on the top of the search list online,” said Anuj Gandhi, the ex-CEO of Indiacast Media Distribution. Landing pages are nothing but a tech solution that is available for broadcasters to exploit, he said.
“Distribution platforms are selling real estate that broadcasters are buying,” Gandhi added.
“This entire debate is vacuous,” said MK Anand, MD and CEO of Times Network.
According to Anand, landing pages are a means to increase the opportunity to see and is therefore an advertising medium like any other. They are perfectly legal and can be purchased at a cost. They improve the viewership of a channel.
“Ratings built through landing pages are not spurious to the extent that ads carried on channels running with landing pages get more viewership than others,” Anand said. “Channels that provide higher viewership charge higher ad rates and can earn higher revenue. As a business, one needs to decide if the investment in landing pages can generate enough returns from ad sales.”
Experts compare investing in landing pages to advertising expenditure, where a brand can spend as much as it wants as part of its marketing communication. The results, they said, are very much like ad campaigns. Content is the key and it may or may not yield results, depending on the audience’s reaction.
As with any other premium real estate, landing pages are not for everyone. Some can afford it while others may find the buying rates astronomical. However, alongside deep pockets, one also needs the appetite for risk when it comes to landing pages.
“There may be some who feel it is risky and don’t want to spend,” said Anand. “But other channels may want to spend at their own risk. So where is the problem? Basically, those who don’t want to spend and take the risk are continuously keeping this debate alive to try and unfairly create a level playing field. This is tantamount to demanding that all players should be as inefficient as each other.”
While there are many who have questioned the unusual spike that a landing page can bring to channels, experts said the landing page is only the beginning of the persuasion process. It is merely an aid to drive traffic and not control it.
Landing pages alone cannot increase viewership or reach, according to Awanish of Cheil India.
“Once they (visitors) are there, we need to warm them up, give them an experience which they are seeking and drive them to initiate an action,” he said.