Western Railway’s In-Train public announcement system, called ‘Ailan’, is slowly turning out to be a marketer’s delight. Since TG Connect, the company that operates the system, introduced advertisements on the audio system, the new ‘media’ has been achieving maximum eyeballs, ears in this case, for ads of almost every product category and giving almost unbelievable results.
This is in sharp contrast to the perennial challenges of listeners’ attention which marketers have faced for their advertisements – print ads, jingles or TVCs. However, this apparently is not a problem with the PA system on Mumbai local trains. With over 3.5 million commuters travelling on the western local trains every day, ads on the western locals are getting a ready-made, captive audience of a mammoth proportion.
And the advertisers are getting much more than they had ever expected. Nissan, for example, advertised its latest model of DatsunGo on the WR PA system. The jingle was run between Virar and Churchgate in 10 trains for a little less than a month. The results were more than dazzling. The company received an unprecedented number of test drive enquiries, more than it would normally get following a full page advertisement in any popular local newspaper or a jingle on a Mumbai radio station. Buoyed by the phenomenal response, the company is now planning a more long-term approach to the medium as a part of its media plan in Mumbai.
In a similar case, a real estate developer, DDPL Global Infrastructure, advertised its Naigaon based residential property, Global Arena, on the WR PA system for 20 days. The company’s sales offices received more than 4 times the number of enquiries compared to any other media they have used till date and the telephone lines almost “crashed” because of the overload of incoming calls. The conversions of these enquiries were equally unbelievable. According to the builder, the enquiries were more than 6 times that of the most successful media options they had ever chosen. On simple ROI terms, Western Railway’s In-train Audio has generated the maximum sales at the lowest cost for the company till now. In the words of Sales Head of DDPL, Mr. Amit Vasani, “All in all, we are converted into believers of the power of this medium and going forward, plan to use this as part of our long-term media plan.”
According to Tushar Gogri, Managing Director of TG Connect that manages and operates the WR PA System, “The PA system has an unprecedented reach, thanks to a captive audience of approximately 3.5 million commuters per day. With shrinking attention spans of listeners and a plethora of distractions that traditional media faces, the PA system is proving to be a medium that overcomes almost all of these challenges. We’re getting advertisers from all sectors and product categories, those with hundreds of crores of advertising budgets to those with water-tight and miniscule budgets.”
It comes as no wonder that the uniqueness of this medium has compelled TG Connect to give the system a name – ‘Ailan’ – instead of continuing to call it a ‘PA System’. The move, according to Gogri “gives the medium an identity and makes it more personal”.
According to Ajaz Memon, Managing Director, Network Media Solutions LLP, the exclusive marketers of TG Connect, “This is probably the most ambitious project we have been involved with. The challenge is that first up our learning curve has been with the largest transit network in the world at first base itself. It’s been an enrichening experience hearing our clients tell us some fantastic stories of the impact this medium has had on their bottom lines. From TV channels like ZeeTV to portals like nobroker.com, everyone is now leveraging the fantastic opportunity that this unique medium has turned into.”
In India, while marketers’ options have increased with the emergence of media categories itself, including dozens of TV channels, newspapers, magazines and the social media, the competition has equally intensified, without lessening the advertisers’ challenges.
Comprising of 28 stations between Virar to Churchgate, the WR suburban train is the undisputed life line of Mumbai, carrying more than 3.55 million commuters every day. Interestingly, these commuters offer interesting demographics of diverse ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds. These are men, women, teenagers and children in an exhaustive age-group of 10-90 years. TG Connect offers multiple slots of 15 to 20 seconds each to advertisers on each journey between Virar and Churchgate. The ads are played an average of 10 to 12 times during the 85-minute train journey.
However, commercial advertisements form only a miniscule of the audio time on the PA system. Majority of the airtime is taken up by station announcements and social and safety messages. “Social messages form an important purpose to having the audio system and will continue. In fact, we’re planning on social campaigns and messages that can be sponsored by advertisers. These campaigns will range from railway safety, eve teasing and harassment, to cleanliness, girl child education, senior citizens’ needs and child labour, etc.,” adds Gogri of TG Connect.
Memon concurs, “Going forward, jingles will be just one of the ways of tapping this wonderful opportunity. We plan to soon run sponsored interactive contests through the audio network including among others, Musical and Quiz contests which are only going to up the ante of participative excitement this medium will bring to the usually uneventful journey of 85 long minutes. With some amazing prizes to be won, the average WR local train traveler is set to be both wooed and wowed by Ailan, a once non-descript PA system.”