Yesterday, while reviewing the new version the Indiatimes.com*, we chanced upon something we haven’t noticed before: an online advertisement for an Indian government department. Indiatimes featured a 300×250 pixel advertisement for the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. The Indian government is among the largest advertisers in India, and it advertises through its official advertising agency, the Directorate of Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP); so far, while political parties have advertised online, this is the first instance that we’ve seen of a DAVP advertising online.
A document we found on the DAVP’s website states calls for applications for empanelment for a pilot of three months (from November 21st 2010 to 20th Feb 2011), following which 20 companies will be empaneled for advertising in the first year. This is a fairly significant development for online publishers in India, because it indicates that a new revenue stream will open up for them.
The DAVP advertises on publications after empanelling them, and once empaneled, publications usually see a regular inflow of advertising. It appears that Times Internet Ltd has been empaneled as an online publication, and we’ve requested the company for a confirmation. We wonder if any other online publications have been empaneled as well. Times Internet’s sister concern leads among offline publications, when it comes to government advertising spends. According to data published on DAVP’s website, it received Rs 34.20 crore in spends in 2009-10, while another group publication, the Navbharat Times, received Rs 4.81 crore. More details on DAVP print spends in 2009-10 in our interactive charts:
The DAVP website has rates for empaneled publishers, grouped into three segments, grouped into three categories, based on unique user base on an all-India basis: Group A – Greater than 5 million unique visitors per annum (from within India); Group B – 2 to 5 million users (from within India); Group C – less than 2 million users subject to minimum requirement (from within India)
The empaneled sites, for the pilot (thanks for the comment Jchheda):
Group A (more than 5 million Unique Users per month): in.mail.yahoo.com, in.news.yahoo.com, yahoo.co.in, cricket.yahoo.com, cricinfo.com, timesofindia.com, rediff.com
Group B (2 to 5 million Unique Users per month): naukri.com, in.movies.yahoo.com, timesjobs.com, moneycontrol.com, economictimes.com, ndtv.com, oneindia.com, monsterindia.com
Group C (above 0.25 million for language websites, above 0.5 million for English websites, but
below 2 million Unique Visitors per month): manoramaonline.com, ebay.in, ibnlive.com, dinamalar.com, galatta.com, raftaar.in, freshersworld.com, cricbuzz.com, maharashtratimes.com, indiatimes.com, navbharattimes.com, zapak.com, santabanta.com, money.rediff.com, bollywoodhungama.com, bhaskar.com, 99acres.com, jeevansathi.com
It’s worth noting the number of sites that Yahoo has in the game.
DAVP Empanelment Terms
We searched the DAVP website, and found the terms for a three month pilot (download the terms here):
– Age: The website should be at least five years old and should be continuously in operation under the same name (website address) for minimum five years.
– Traffic: The website should have a minimum average unique visitors (from within India) in a month (based on the data of six months immediately preceding the empanelment) of not less than 1 million for English language sites, and 0.75 million for Indic language sites. (Ed: It’s good to see Indic language sites also being considered for empanelment, in a market that is largely dominated by English language sites)
– Analytics: The government wants Google Analytics data certified by Auditors, and will also use “Comscore/any other agency” to compare. Once the ad begins running, the website will have to provide “Campaign Access (User ID and Password to access Campaign Data on the third Party Server) to the third party server
– Ad Units & Metrics: DAVP is going down the cost per milli (CPM), rather Cost per Thousand Impression (CPTI) route. The DAVP will advertise using any of six ad units – 728 X 90 pixels, 468 X 60 pixels, 336 X 280 pixels, 300 X 250 pixels, 180 X 150 pixels, 125 X 125 pixels, or 234 X 60 pixels.
– Payment terms: Rates to be quoted to the DAVP are to be inclusive of all costs except service tax and cess, and the DAVP will take a 15% Agency Commission. Websites will have to submit its bills alongwith certificates of how many impressions have been served, within 30 days of completion of campaign. Payments will be made, the DAVP says, within 45 days of receipt of bills. If the DAVP does pay within such a period, that will be a relief to a market that is plagued by poor payment periods, where standard terms with agencies stipulate payment within 90 days, but payment can take over a year in a worst-case-scenario.
More in the terms and conditions document. Download it here.
The irony of online publications being empaneled is that while the Indian government might recognize online publications for advertising, online journalists still aren’t recognized as journalists: in particular, I remember Rediff Editor Sheela Bhatt, at a recent panel on social media and the government, mentioning how difficult it was for online journalists to get a press card, which was needed in order to get access for reporting on government related developments.
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