NEW DELHI: Marketers seeking to reach India's rural audiences are exploring the opportunities offered by the spread of ATMs into lower tier locations, as third party operators bring cash machines to hitherto inaccessible areas.

The so-called "white label" ATMs not only benefit banks, as might be expected, but a range of brands in other categories – automotive, paint and mobile telecoms – are also using this route to reach potential consumers in locations with a population as low as 5,000.

Tata Communications Payment Solutions is a leader in this field, claiming a 70% share with its Indicash ATMs, and its CEO, Sanjeev Patel, told the Calcutta Telegraph that "we have had a very good experience so far – the reaction from users even in the semi-urban and rural areas has been positive and we are witnessing reasonable number of transactions".

He explained to Pitch magazine that the company's focus was on tier 3 to tier 6 locations. "We go into places that have hitherto not been penetrated by ATMs," he said.

That frequently produces a number of problems as small towns tend to lack a suitable infrastructure, but once Tata has overcome these difficulties new horizons open up for advertisers.

"From a marketer's perspective, we present a reasonably attractive option to expose brands to customers, where there are not many organised media options," said Patel.

Among those options are the front glass of the ATM room, the inside of the room, the ATM wrap and brochure stands.

"The ATMs give both an avenue to gain brand exposure in entirely new locations along with brand engagement through interactive set ups," he said. "It is easy to capture the customer's undivided attention during the time he spends here."

One telecoms advertiser has used exposure in ATMs to generate leads. "We do find potential in this medium as it has an assured footfall by way of walk-ins," a spokesman said. And auto brands have found they can drive visibility in areas where other advertising opportunities are limited.

Tata is aiming to have a total of 15,000 such ATMs in place by 2016, of which two-thirds will be in lower tier sites.

Data sourced from Pitch, Calcutta Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff