Article: How AI is scoring big in the IPL


How AI is scoring big in the IPL

The IPL goes beyond cricket, as AI-driven innovations reshape the fan experience and redefine the future of media, offering valuable insights for corporate leaders.
How AI is scoring big in the IPL

It's IPL time! A stage for thrilling showdowns between bat and ball, fans and critics, family outings and friend gatherings, and TV channels and OTT platforms. The ultimate winner? Only time will tell. However, amidst the battles, some champions have already emerged!

The IPL isn't just a game – it's a high-stakes advertising arena. Brands must strategise early, solidifying budgets and creatives for maximum impact. Agencies race to book media spaces, fueled by the insights gleaned from extensive data analysis.  For brand and product managers, this data is gold, validating their promotional strategies. Advertising in the IPL is a decision that can make or break a campaign.

While the IPL continues to innovate the game and its management – like the smart replay system introduced this season – others associated with the tournament are breaking new ground. This year, the innovation lies in how OTT and TV broadcasters are harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance engagement with fans and viewers.

Forget language barriers! Pre- and post-game shows, traditionally broadcast in multiple regional languages to cater to diverse viewers, are now using AI for real-time translation. Imagine an international cricket legend offering expert commentary in English on one channel, while their analysis is simultaneously translated and broadcast in Hindi on another channel, all with the same natural tone. This AI-powered innovation allows viewers to enjoy insights from foreign cricketers directly in their preferred language.

But what of the regional language experts who previously dominated these channels?  Suddenly, it's a battle of the analysts: international cricketer versus domestic-level player.  Who will offer the most insightful analysis and emerge the fans' favourite? The game is on! 

This IPL, we're witnessing a game-changer: the powerful convergence of OTT, AI, and star power.  By using AI-powered face recognition, OTT platforms can now target ads based on a brand ambassador cricketer appearing on-screen.  This revolutionises brand management, product promotion, and business communication strategies.

The OTT platform that is broadcasting IPL matches uses AI’s face recognition feature to identify the player who also happens to be a brand ambassador for a particular brand or product.  Every time the on-field camera focuses on this player (his face or jersey), the relevant product advertisement appears on the viewers’ device – television, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The advertisement is geo-fenced, implying that, it becomes visible only to those subscribers who fall within a specific geographical location. 

For instance, in a match being played in Mohali, when the on-field camera focuses on PBKS’ captain Shikhar Dhawan, the advertisement of the product he endorses appears on the screens of subscribers in Punjab-Haryana areas. The product and the brand ambassador have the highest impact in that region and hence the advertisement generates a significantly higher recall and impact.

Such advertisements appear in real time, without disturbing the transmission of the game. Although viewership of IPL on this OTT is pan-India and overseas, advertisements appear basis the location from where the viewer has connected to the OTT’s channel. So, all viewers are watching the same match but seeing different advertisements on account of the OTT’s AI system. 

Being a contextual advertising strategy, this concept introduces variability of time and frequency of a brand’s appearance during the entire length of play.   Brand managers and media planners need to be aware of this and understand its impact on budgeting. Further, new data points are generated on account of this feature which need to be harnessed for a finer assessment of the campaign’s effectiveness. All these further feed into the brand’s AI system for computing effective RoI, etc.

It may be worthwhile to assume that the next step here would be one-on-one interaction with the subscribers on the OTT platform.  By making advertisements with a call for action button, the target audience gets lured to respond.  If the target audience responds, a new data point gets generated, making brand management a subject of one-to-one marketing.  

In today’s context of skills and jobs, it is often said that curiosity and constant learning to upskill, are essential survival traits in the corporate world.  This IPL reconfirms that.  If brands must reach their target audiences most frugally, the use of AI becomes imperative.  With AI, one needs to think, plan and act differently, which implies that staying on top of such trends will keep product and brand managers more relevant to their profession.  Not only will they need strong analytical skills, but they also need to be creative and strategic thinkers to conceptualise ways to harness the power of AI.  It is a world of voice, video, interactive, immersive, virtual, experiential … and many other such things coming together to make customer engagement more effective and meaningful.

Just a few years ago, the question was, "How can I know what competitor ads my target audience sees?" Think of Mercedes-Benz wanting to track if their ideal customers also watch Audi or BMW commercials.

Today, the AI-OTT combination offers a potential solution. This is just the beginning.  Who knows what future AI advancements lie in store, or how the IPL will continue to innovate and captivate its audience.

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Topics: Technology, Leadership, #Innovation, #Artificial Intelligence

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