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Virendra Singh Rawat

In a welcome development for digital news platforms and podcasters, the Centre has approved a new policy for advertisement campaigns on social media, OTT platforms and other digital media.

The policy allows the central government’s advertising wing, the Central Bureau of Communication (CBC) to undertake such ad campaigns.

Over-the-top (OTT) is a media service, which is offered directly to viewers via internet. It bypasses the intermediaries including cable, broadcast, satellite television etc.

Yesterday, the union ministry of information and broadcasting approved the ‘Digital Advertisement Policy, 2023’ to empower the CBC for campaigns in the digital media sphere.

The policy “marks a pivotal moment in CBC’s mission to disseminate information and create awareness regarding various schemes, programs, and policies of the Government of India in response to the evolving media landscape and the increased digitalisation of media consumption.”

The CBC will be able to empanel agencies working in the digital media space to reach out to podcast listeners, YouTube and OTT consumers, and other social media users.

The policy encompasses campaigns to be run on mobile applications, apart from websites. It mandates the websites, mobile apps, OTT platforms and digital audio platforms to be at least a year old to be eligible to apply under the scheme.

The ad rates will be linked to the subscriber base and viewership numbers, and will use competitive bidding to ensure transparency and efficiency. The rates will remain valid for three years and will be applicable to all eligible agencies.

Not only can OTT platforms be empanelled for placing ad along with regular content, including live-streamed ones, they can also be empanelled for production of embedded/in-film ad/promotion/branding activities whenever CBC issues a Letter of Intent (LoI) for campaigns.

As per TRAI’s Indian Telecom Services Performance Indicators Jan-Mar 2023, the internet penetration in India as of Mar 2023, is over 880 million, and the number of telecom subscribers as of Mar 2023 is over 1172 million.

According to media reports, the government spends on traditional media dipped from Rs 1,200 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 265 crore in 2021-22.

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Nearly 2 percent of the total outlay is usually marked for publicity and outreach activities, and it is this fund that the CBC taps for advertisements and campaigns.

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