Best Platforms To Advertise In Tier 2 & Tier 3 Cities Of India

Best Platforms To Advertising

This article would cover:

  1. Snapshot of a Twitter conversation among several Indian marketers on the best advertising platforms for tier 2 & 3 cities
  2. Why is advertising in tier 2 & 3 cities important?
  3. What makes advertising in tier 2 & 3 cities challenging?
  4. What are the best advertising platforms for advertising in tier 2 & tier 3 cities – The Media Ant view.

Snapshot of a Twitter conversation about best ad platforms in Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities of India

From being a digital space to connect with your friends and colleagues, Social Media has gradually evolved into a platform to brainstorm, discuss and debate too- be it a political idea or business strategy.

A few weeks ago, we happened to stumble upon one such very interesting conversation on Twitter. Several Indian marketing professionals came together and carried out a fruitful discussion on “The best platforms to advertise in tier 2 & tier 3 cities of India”.



The top spot was claimed by Vernacular apps – News, Video Sharing, Social Media etc.

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The Media Ant
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Followed by OTT platforms – regional ones included.

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Many users were in favor of local WhatsApp, Telegram and FB groups too.

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While most marketers suggested online media, many of them still have trust in the traditional media like OOH, Print, and TV.


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Influencer marketing though might be in nascent stage in India but is one of the fastest growing segments and had quite a number of takers.

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And how can we forget short video apps and news apps that have driven the digital growth in the last few years. Vernacular indeed found a mention here too.

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On analysing the entire conversation, here’s a graphical representation of the various media categories in terms of volume of mentions:

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Here are some of the popular advertising media platforms that found mention in the conversation:

Media CategoryMedia
Digital NewsDigital arms of vernacular media, Short news apps like Inshorts and DailyHunt, Vernacular language apps like Public and Lokal
OTTMX Player, Hotstar, YouTube advertising, Vernacular apps like Hoichoi, SunNxt, Aha, etc
GroupsLocal WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook groups
OutdoorHoardings and bus shelter advertising
Non-traditionalNews paper inserts, pamphlet distribution, Tricycle advertising, In-store & mall branding
NewspaperRegional newspapers
Social MediaSharechat, Instagram, Regional meme pages
TelevisionRegional & cable channels
InfluencersLocal level Social Media influencers and Youtubers
Short Video AppsRoposo, MX Takatak, Chingari and other apps that support vernacular languages.

Which cities come under tier 2 & tier 3 cities?

The definition and classification of cities under tier 1,2 and 3 is debated and outdated.

According to census 2001 RBI had classified cities with a population of 1 lakh and above were classified as tier 1 cities, cities with a population of 50,000 to 99,999 were known as tier 2 cities and so on.

With the Sixth Central Pay Commission coming into action, the cities were reclassified in 2008 as X, Y and Z.

The tier 1 cities include the following cities: Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune.

The tier 2 cities have many prominent cities like Agra, Ajmer, Aligarh, Allahabad, Amravati, Amritsar, Asansol, Aurangabad, Bareilly, Belgaum, Bhavnagar, Bhilai, Bhiwandi, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Bikaner, Bijapur, Bilaspur, Bokaro Steel City, Chandigarh, Cuttack, Dehradun, Dhanbad, Durgapur, Erode, Faridabad, Firozabad, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Gulbarga, Guntur, Gwalior, Gurgaon, Guwahati, Hamirpur, Hubli-Dharwad, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Jammu, Jamnagar, Jamshedpur, Jhansi, Jodhpur, Kakinada, Kannur, Kanpur, Kochi, Kottayam, Kolhapur, Kollam, Kota, Kozhikode, Kurnool, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Madurai, Malappuram, Mathura, Goa, Mangalore, Meerut, Moradabad, Mysore, Nagpur, Nanded, Nashik, Nellore, Noida, Palakkad, Patna, Perinthalmanna, Pondicherry, Purulia, Raipur, Rajkot, Rajahmundry, Ranchi, Rourkela, Salem, Sangli, Shimla, Siliguri, Solapur, Srinagar, Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Tiruchirappalli, Tirupati, Tirunelveli, Tiruppur, Tirur, Tiruvannamalai, Ujjain, Vadodara, Varanasi, Vasai-Virar City, Vellore, Vijayawada, Vishakhapatnam, and Warangal.

Why should brands advertise in tier 2 & tier 3 cities?

2020 was the year of pandemic indeed but 2020 also marked a year when several brands realized that the future growth lies in tier 2 and 3 cities. Reverse migration, government policies to improve the usage of digital in these places, growing awareness, aspiration and income of people and rise of local brands- all of these have contributed to the continuous growth.

Also, in the last one year when metro cities faced the wrath of the pandemic, tier 2 & tier 3 cities were in comparatively better shape. Coupled with the saturation brands are facing in the top cities, tier 2 & tier 3 towns seem to be the next battlefields for the share of wallet.

One of the major reasons attributed to the growth of tier 2 and 3 cities is the digital revolution that brought a large part of small towns and rural India under Internet coverage.

With the launch of Reliance Jio, data costs dropped by about 93% as compared to Pre-Jio era.

According to a report by the Internet & Mobile Association of India and Nielsen, rural India has 10% more internet users than the urban population as of 2019.

In fact, during the festive season 2020, Indian E-commerce companies witnessed a jump in business coming from tier 3 and smaller cities.

  • Flipkart’s BBD Sale had 52% visits from Tier 3 & beyond cities.
  • PayTM witnessed a 2X jump in the number of visitors from tier 2 & 3 cities.
  • Myntra saw a 180% increase in new shoppers from the tier 3 cities.

How does ad consumption and trust on advertising differ across metros, non-metros and rural areas?

In September 2020, Nielsen in partnership with ASCI and ISA published a report on “Trust in Advertising” that gives a very good overview of the trends in consumption and trust in advertising across regions.

Here are a few snapshots from the report that would help us establish which media works the best in non-metros and rural in terms of reach and trust (for advertising purposes).

Please note that this report considers the following classification of Metro, Non-Metro & Rural:

  • Metro: Cities having population more than 40 lakhs.
  • Non-Metro: Cities having population between 10 lakhs and 39 lakhs.
  • Rural: Regions with population less than 10 lakhs.

On which media types do people consume ads?

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Which media types do people trust for advertising?

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Which are the best advertising platforms for tier 2 & tier 3 cities?

Before answering the question about the best advertising platforms for tier 2 & 3 cities, let’s have a look at the two factors that can define the choice of the advertising platform.

  1. Targeting an entire city or certain pockets: Targeting an entire city/town would involve mass media that can ensure a wider reach. Generic product categories like FMCG can be an example of this approach. However, for niche product categories like, for example, a school, target areas may be in proximity to other educational institutions where they can target students and parents. In such cases, hyperlocal advertising would work better as it would ensure less spillage.
  2. A long-term campaign or a short-term one: Some media platforms like television and print offer high reach and impact in a short period of time while in media like digital, it takes time to build the reach and impact. So, for brands looking for a brand launch or creating a buzz for sale season, high impact media would be apt while for a sustenance campaign, digital is the best.

Why mass media are better for achieving higher reach within a short time than digital?

When brands want to reach a very high number of audiences within a small span of time, it makes more sense to invest in mass media options for the following reasons:

  • Cost Per Reach: Quantitatively, it is possible to achieve the same reach numbers using digital. However, one also needs to keep in mind the CPT (Cost Per Thousand Reach) which in most cases is higher for digital (except in case of niche targeting).
  • Effectiveness: Though quantitatively an impression is same across platforms, several researches have concluded that the effectiveness of impressions across trusted media like TV and newspaper is more than that for digital.
  • According to an article by Google, Print ads are 4X effective than online display ads. A similar comparison was done between TV ads and online ads by Group M, following is the effectiveness of a TV ad as compared to various formats of digital ads:
Digital Ad TypeTV Index vs Digital Ad Type
Social Network Ads1.63X
Influencer Ads (Recommendations)1.95X
Video Platform Ads2.29X
In-game Ads3X
E-commerce Platform Ads3.25X

Summarizing the above in a chart below:

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Best Advertising Media for Short Term Campaign Covering Certain areas of the city: Outdoor

Following are the top outdoor advertising options across the top tier 2/3 cities in India:

Best Advertising Media for Short Term Campaign Covering an Entire City: Newspaper and TV (in case of multiple regional cities or all the non-metro cities in India)

Following are the top newspaper advertising options across top tier 2/3 cities in India:

Following are the top TV advertising options across top regional languages in India:

Best Advertising Media for Long Term Campaign Covering Certain areas of the city: Hyperlocal Digital Advertising  and Non-Traditional Advertising

Following are the top hyperlocal digital advertising types that can target audience based on locality/pin-code:

Following are the top non-traditional advertising types that can be used for hyperlocal targeting:

Best Advertising Media for Long Term Campaign Covering an Entire City: Digital Advertising

Following are the top digital advertising categories that can help you target tier2/3 cities based on geography and language filters

Should brands prefer advertising in regional languages to target tier 2 & 3 cities?

Most of the digital advertising options mentioned above offer language targeting along with geo targeting. Regional languages have become the key to reach out to the new generation of Internet users.

Here are some of the findings about native language users in India: (Source: Google Report “Same Same, But Different” published in July 2020)

  • India has 500 million Internet users who can be classified into two categories- (i) the early adopters, living in metro cities, proficient in English and (ii) the new Internet users who are more comfortable in consuming and creating content in their native language, live in smaller cities and towns in India and have come online in past 1-2 years.
  • 90% of these new Internet users prefer to access content in their native languages.
  • It is estimated that by the end of 2021, India’s Hindi Internet user base along with Marathi and Bengali users would account for 75% of Indians online.
  • 93% of YouTube viewers in India prefer watching content in their native language- Hindi followed by Tamil and Telugu.

Would you like to know more about advertising in tier 2 and 3 cities, please write to us at or comment on the post.


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