How marketers can turn India’s biggest cricket tournament IPL 2022 into a golden opportunity

As marketers try to make the most of this IPL season, they can depend on offerings from AppsFlyer catering to each category - from Gaming to Entertainment and Food & Drink - enabling marketers to get customer insights and drive sales.
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From Whistle Podu to Duniya Hila Denge Hum,’ cricket fans have gone back to chanting the slogans of their favorite teams in anticipation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, which kicked off recently. This year, the buzz has gotten louder with the addition of two new teams – Lucknow and Ahmedabad – to the league.

One of India’s most beloved festivals, the IPL excitement isn’t just restricted to the players, teams, and fans but is also a golden opportunity for marketers and brands.

IPL 2021 clocked Rs 2,950 crore in TV advertising despite the tournament's division into two distinct halves due to the pandemic. While the first leg was played in India from April 9 to May 2, the second leg was played in the United Arab Emirates from September 19 to October 8 after the season was suspended, following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases breaching the teams’ respective bio-bubbles.

As marketers gear up once again to make the most of this IPL fever, AppsFlyer’s IPL 2022 report ‘IPL 14: An Outlier Year For Cricket’ can surely help. It is rich in learnings and insights based on an analysis of 1.6 billion installs recorded in India during the two legs of IPL 2021. A total of 3,052 apps with at least 1,000 monthly Non-Organic installs (NOI) were included in this study.

Since its inception, AppsFlyer has enabled companies of all sizes and across industries to make better product and marketing decisions and preserve customer privacy. And this report is yet another step toward ensuring that marketers do not miss out on the current IPL opportunity by taking note of the events of the previous tournament.

Drop in ratings but growth across categories

As the IPL was played in two halves, there was a loss of momentum before the second stint began after a gap of four months. The UAE leg saw a 15-20 percent drop in ratings, according to the Broadcast Audience Research Council. But as per the AppsFlyer IPL report, there was still significant growth in year-on-year revenue across various categories. Categories across the Android platform made substantial gains during the tournament. The Gaming category achieved high revenue figures, while Finance grew the slowest. Entertainment apps during the tournament saw a 70 percent spike in revenue. Forty-one percent of Shopping apps ran remarketing campaigns.

The Indian mobile user base kept growing as per the study. Non-organic installs surged across most categories in 2021 year-over-year as the Indian mobile market continued on its explosive trajectory.

Like marketers, franchises too are expecting rising engagement. In an interview, a Mumbai Indians spokesperson said that digital engagement has been growing, and brands are beginning to look at models to drive stronger fan activations. For that, customer insights and understanding behavior patterns are key. Partners like AppsFlyer offer solutions catered to each category - from Gaming to Entertainment - enabling marketers to get customer insights and drive sales.

Apps that don’t engage in remarketing are leaving money on the table

Retention has always remained a concern, and it became more critical than ever to focus on retaining organic users, especially for a tournament that was being played in halves. Remarketing is a common practice by marketers who serve ads to users who have previously visited their page. While remarketing on the web has been around for almost 15 years, apps have only started running campaigns at scale in the last few years.

In IPL 2021, remarketing was most effective in retention among Entertainment apps, followed by Food & Drink and Finance apps. As per the report, remarketing apps in Gaming had 4-5 times the share of paying users of those that did not, while Food & Drink remarketing apps had twice that of non-remarketing apps. Virtually all categories of remarketing apps saw a marked increase in their 30-day retention as well as a boost in their share of paying users.

Even this year, marketers need to note that ongoing engagement will remain important, and there will be more significant user growth and increased competition in the market across categories. Therefore, marketers need to focus on user retention, and apps that don’t engage are simply leaving money on the table.

In-app revenue shot up across categories

The number of paying users in an app for nearly all categories takes a jump during IPL, year after year. Last year, the share of paying users was higher for key categories in April, when a bulk of the first leg was played, than in May. While sessions dropped for the Entertainment category, in-app purchase revenue shot up by over 70 percent. The Food & Drink category also nearly doubled in revenue, while Shopping sales rose substantially.

The study specified that in-app revenue also closely correlates with sessions, where we see a lot of purchases in the first post-season, which picks up again in the second to third weeks of the second leg in Dubai. One potential reason for this could be that performance marketing tends to yield better incremental results due to post-branding impact. But categories like Entertainment bring in more revenue at the start of the season, so marketers in that category need to start their campaigns earlier. A focus on remarketing will help in increasing the number of paying users. Getting a complete picture of in-app behavior can help significantly increase the revenue stream when it comes to categories like this. For Entertainment apps, AppsFlyer’s attribution tools provide in-depth insights into subscriptions and renewals across both web and app so that you can optimize LTV and ROI.

Guard against fraud early in the IPL season

Bots represented the main form of attack in app categories like Shopping, Food & Drink, and Entertainment. As the season went on, this was surpassed by Click Flooding. Marketers need to remember that fraud remains the biggest killer of marketing spends during the tournament. Since fraudulent activities are more prevalent in the IPL pre-season, investing in early fraud detection plans and solutions by partners like AppsFlyer can be critical in reducing risks.

AppsFlyer’s Protect360 keeps customers ahead of every threat with a real-time, multi-layered approach that includes cluster analysis, personalized validation rules, in-app fraud rules, and post-attribution fraud detection. They analyze hundreds of mobile sensors to determine authentic customers so customers can accurately distinguish between humans and bots.

Timing is key

The peak activity period for all app categories was the evening time. These are also the hours in which IPL matches were broadcast live from India or Dubai. Therefore, the study encourages marketers to activate the bulk of their promotional activity during these hours, especially evening matches. For promotional campaigns, the IPL is a great time. Research indicated that there was an increase in the share of paying users for the months when most IPL matches were being played. Pre- and post-season can be great to launch user acquisition (UA) campaigns.

Fans get more invested in the apps as the season progresses, opening up their wallets after building their enthusiasm. Apart from this, Indians also tend to spend based on seasonality, saving up to spend during the festive or seasonal offers.

Creating buzz around a brand fuels performance campaigns

As per the report, the initial focus during IPL should be around higher reach for the brands with awareness as the campaign objective. Creating a buzz around the brand helps fuel the performance campaigns for an incremental lift down the road.

It is also mentioned that campaigns with a larger budget tend to produce a greater impact per dollar since they integrate a mix of advertising formats. It can be helpful to feature celebrities in in-context integration and creatives because that helps brands establish a clear role in the story, and they also perform better than those that do not use celebrities.

As the country gears up for the latest season of the IPL to catch it live, marketers must also get ready to ensure that they reach these fans through digital channels and activations.

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