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How mobile video is powering the digital strategy for brands in the new normal

Even as the digital sector has been growing tremendously in India, mobile video has played a key role in this growth. Today, mobile video has grown in importance for brands and the pandemic has further increased the importance of mobile video for marketers. According to a WARC report, 45% of marketers in India intend to increase their focus on mobile video in their advertising. The report also states that 20% of the total spends of a brand are allocated to mobile videos.

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Trends such as vertical video formats, short videos and tools like Instagram Stories and Live are some of the newer innovations that are making mobile videos a lucrative proposition for both brands and consumers.

The pandemic and lockdown accelerated the transition to digital, so we saw traditional brands like MDH create a heavy digital presence for themselves during this period.

Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products, observed, “Since the last 5 years, there has been a significant increase in the making of digital films. Pre-2015, marketers were focused more on traditional media like television, radio, print or outdoor, but now marketers have better options to reach their target audience and promote their brand.”

He further said, “The lockdown period further aggravated the demand for mobile videos. Due to the lockdown, it was impossible for brands to shoot outdoors for television ads, whereas it was relatively easier to do digital films as one was able to shoot indoors even with the help of mobile phones with good cameras. We have seen an onslaught of more and more digital videos during the lockdown.”

Giving an OTT perspective during the lockdown, Abhishek Joshi, Head of Marketing & Business Partnerships, MX Player, said, “The pandemic has massively accelerated the adoption of OTT services. OTT has now truly become the mass medium of entertainment consumption in many parts of the world. Over the past few months, our platform itself has seen a big jump in consumption in gaming, having grown to 25 million Monthly Active Gaming Users, with an engagement of over 70 minutes/ user per day. With regards to content, we have launched over 30 shows in the last 8 months, and our show ‘Aashram Part 1’ crossed over 400 million streams since launch.”

In the last 5 years, the video space has grown tremendously. While cheaper data with Jio, affordable handsets and increased mobile penetration has contributed to this, the mobile video space has constantly changed and continues to be dynamic. We’ve seen the trend of short video and vertical formats taking the mobile video space by storm and brands jumping onto the bandwagon to make the most of it. While the lockdown resulted in several sectors coming to a halt, the mobile video space continued to grow and new trends of content creation and consumption were seen.

Vasuta Agarwal, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, InMobi, noted, “During the lockdown, overall app usage on mobile has seen a stick-shift growth. Based on the InMobi platform insights, the top app categories contributing to this increase in engagement are Gaming – 110%, Books and comic – 200%, News – 30%, Image and video editing apps – 60%. It has led to a resultant increase in video ad engagement as well. Consumers are more receptive to ads as they are browsing and exploring content extensively on their primary screen – mobile. Music and Audio, Health and Fitness, and Education have seen a whopping 500% rise in programmatic video in-app ad spending in Q1 2020. Vertical video spends dramatically increased – 99 per cent YoY. Landscape video spends still account for a majority – 72 per cent – of programmatic video spends. Advertisers across industries invest almost equally in vertical video – Entertainment (47%), Finance (45%), and landscape video.”

Commenting on the short video trend, Prashan Agarwal, CEO, Gaana, said, “While mobile video engagement will surely be at the forefront of driving audience engagement on mobile devices, and short-form video is slated to be the next big thing along with enhanced branded videos, marketers should focus on the entire digital marketing universe to tap the wider Indian audience.”

Over the years, marketers have taken mobile videos more and more seriously. Until recently, brands would focus more on TVCs and then adapt the same TVC on digital platforms. However, soon enough they realised that since the TG on digital is slightly different and there’s an opportunity of increased and more personal engagement, brands focused on creating more digital and platform specific videos for maximum ROI. Advertising on digital is cheaper compared to other mediums and the returns and metrics are more tangible, which in a way makes digital a more lucrative and attractive platform to advertise on.

During the pandemic, as traditional mediums like print and outdoor suffered, digital was further leveraged and became a major part of the marketing mix. Agarwal added, “InMobi sees brands investing 40 per cent of their budgets on video as against display ads. Leveraged primarily for the objective of branding (driving brand awareness and recall), mobile video is now an integral part of the entire advertising process – right from the creation to the distribution.”

On the other hand, Buddha opined, “The spends on mobile videos are still small in terms of marketing budget, but the rise is at least 4-5 folds. To quantify it on 100, the kind of contribution that digital videos have is about 7-8 per cent. The number has significantly increased in the last few years and it is set to grow further in the next couple of years.”

The mobile being a more personal device and with people restricted to their homes, they have naturally increased the consumption of content on these devices. The opportunities for marketers are there, but what does the future hold for mobile videos? Mehul Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Socheers, said, “In the coming years, there’s definitely going to be an increase in video content creation by brands. There will be more raw and influencer driven content that’s going to further pick up for a larger audience that will help the brands. Vertical content is also going to further grow as more brands use Reels, Instagram Stories, etc. Brands will also further focus on snackable content to connect with the consumer.”

Giving a gaming perspective, Agarwal said, “Eighty-nine per cent of India’s gaming user base are on mobile apps and is growing at 20 per cent YoY. The in-app gaming engagement in India witnessed an 80 per cent jump during the lockdown. Video seamlessly blends with the gaming content and mechanics and occupies 100 per cent screen space capturing complete attention, making it highly conducive for advertisers. Gaming also owns the unique rewarded video format – where consumers receive in-app gaming rewards such as coins, lives, etc., in exchange for viewing full-screen video ads. Brands will capitalise on this combination of category-format to capture a highly engaged audience.”

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