Among business newspapers in India, Business Standard is good and is constantly improving; Mint is new but very good too. Both have an online presence [B-S Mint] and do not have irritating pop-up ads. The B-S site is not password protected (Mint is) which makes it an ideal solution for linking to. I wouldn’t want my readers to be subjected to the advertising irritants that an Eco Times creates.
Here is my first link to B-S. An article in today’s B-S reports that BEST buses in Mumbai have installed TVs in their buses which will show ads. The idea is clever but not novel. It has been tried but has met with resistance in the US where fares are not (or less) subsidized. Bus Radio is a similar project that does radio advertising in school buses. In India where the fares have to be kept very low to remain affordable, this could be an interesting way to help keep the fares down.
The BEST advertising project is new. A company called Emnet installs and maintains the TV screens. Along with the TV screens they install security cameras. In addition they pay a fee of Rs. 1 crore per year to BEST. Emnet then sells the advertising. Even though it is Emnet, a private party, that is selling the ads not BEST, the B-S reporter has portrayed the advertising rates as if it was a sell-out.
Here is their math
The advertisers need to shell out just Rs 9,300 for one 10-second advertising slot in all the 3,100 buses that will soon be fitted with television screens. The cost per commercial per bus becomes a paltry Rs 3 (which is lower than the minimum fee of Rs 4 on BEST). To put this in context, a 10-second slot on a popular TV programme would cost between Rs 75,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh.
This makes it look like the comparison is between Rs. 3 and Rs. 1.5 lakhs. Or maybe between Rs. 9,300 and Rs. 1.5 laksh. The conclusion one is invited to draw is that either BEST or Emnet is doing this for charity.
But as my discerning readers will realize, the only comparison that is fair is – how many people see the ad and what does it cost per viewer. Lets assume that there are 100 people in the bus that have a clear view of one of the TVs. The cost per ad per person who has the opportunity to see the ad is Rs. 0.03. That number for TV will be calculated similarly based upon the viewership of the program. For a program that charges Rs. 1.5 lakh per 10 second ad will need a viewership of just 5 million people to get down to 0.03 per ad per viewer. A quick search on KBC viewership yielded a number of 61 million (although the figure is dated, we are interested here in order of magnitude only).
To me the comparison seems equitable. Obviously there are many differences between the two mediums, including the interesting dynamic that more people on the bus doesn’t necessarily mean more people can see the TV. Standing passengers can reduce that number!
Business is always logical, especially in a free market. Sometimes you don’t know all the details, sometimes you can’t comprehend it fully. But if you look for the logic hard enough, you will find it.