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Indepth: Decoding OTT players’ promotion gameplans – Part 2

Continuing with the Indepth report on OTT player’s promotion strategies for their content, Part 1 of the report carried yesterday dwelled on the core factors that form the crux of OTT show promotions, breaking through the clutter, selecting the mediums, and factoring in the spends. 

In the second and concluding part of the report, industry experts speak about the challenges and growing competition in the OTT space, how Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are impacting the business. Adgully also spoke to some leading OOH players to know how the medium is being leveraged by OTT players for promotions. 

Challenges and growing competition

While affirming that the OTT play defines the new generation screen for Indian audiences and is definitely here to stay, Divya Dixit, Senior VP & Head - Marketing, ALTBalaji, noted that the stickiness of consumers is high only if accompanied by ways in which they can engage more deeply with the platform that is associated with strong marketing efforts. According to Dixit, the cost of content versus monetisation is another hurdle that the OTT industry is facing.  

She further added, “The fragmentation of users and platforms, combined with high churns rates have led to low monetisation, and therefore, success depends on the partnership across content acquisition, customer acquisition and marketing.” 

Some other challenges that the industry is gradually overcoming are non-uniform broadband infrastructure and limited storage on devices  The current infrastructural capabilities do not allow subscribers to view a video with optimal quality and at the same speed everywhere, and low storage on smart devices and feature phones results in the constant fight for retention.  

Dixit said, “At ALTBalaji, we use adaptive streaming to ensure that the video quality changes based on the bandwidth available. This change is seamless and ensures that the user experience is best in class. Our vision is to create the habit of binge-viewing, purposed by the content we create. An average subscriber spends 75 minutes per day with ALTBalani, which is simply higher than any other service.” 

Vineet Kanabar, Director - Marketing, The Viral Fever felt that the long-term ROI for SVOD platforms to acquire new users posed an interesting challenge, and added that the industry is working on creating marketing models for this in India. “Global players like Netflix have years of data to mine and arrive at the right decisions. Entertainment is a ‘hits & misses’ business being disrupted by data driven strategies, and we have adopted this approach to understand how to more efficiently to attract and retain our audiences,” Kanabar said.

Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now remarked, “Video as a business has been a tricky one from back in the day. For example, movie theatres aren’t visited again for the same thing usually, but it depends on what kind of content is playing. 9 pm is the primetime and we can’t really say what the rating of the show will be. It’s not just about one thing anymore, it’s about thriller, comedy and a mix of other genres. Striking a string with the consumer is crucial. Discovery is still a massive challenge in terms of the amount of content that is being produced.” 

Hussein further said that competition in general is good. “You are guiding the overall concept of on-demand and online video. Of course, it also depends on how you identify different kind of challenges.” 

Uday Sodhi, Business Head - Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India

too, believed that the increasing amount of competition in the market with new players is good for the industry. It enables users to choose from an array of content and there is space for all. “Content is king and getting the right content to the right audience with the right message at the right time will be the key to success in the digital space. A good promotional mix, depending on the nature of the show and who the target audience, will help get eyeballs and retain new and existing users,” Sodhi added. 

When asked how Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are impacting other OTT players’ strategies in terms of creating visibility for their shows, Sodhi replied, “The digital ecosystem is fiercely competitive at the moment. Every OTT player has a definitive strategy conducive to their content offering and target audience. We, at SonyLIV, are also clear on how we promote different shows. We have a though process and strategy to build effective campaigns to reach the right audience.”

Trends dominating the OTT space in 2019 

The Viral Fever’s Kanabar opined that premium, long-form digital entertainment will continue to dominate the space as more viewers migrate to OTTs. With consumers lining up, brands will also continue to migrate spends to new video platforms. 

He further said, “OTT players will have to develop better ad experiences to be able to service brand requirements like precision targeting, reporting, etc. There will be more content in more local languages as global OTT players come to terms with Indian tastes. Also, we may see more bundling of OTT services or new forms of pricing introduced as the market continues to grow.” 

Meanwhile, Eros Now’s Hussein felt that there wasn’t any one particular genre that would work. “There are 2 or 3 genres – thriller, comedy and horror – that have worked in the OTT space. But I don’t think there has been quality work in the comedy space. I am hoping that the fraternity will come up with good quality horror content as it is still an unexplored, unchartered territory and has a significant audience in the OTT space. We are also introducing a couple of interesting genres this year which will cater to the market sentiments.” 

“The clear verdict is that the quality in production and the cinematic experience that we are trying to create has much more appeal than the chirpy, cheerful shows. Our shows have higher appeal and affinity with the consumer,” Hussein added. 

The pace of innovation in the OTT industry has been making rapid strides. ALTBalaji’s Dixit remarked, “It will be difficult to predict what new innovations and changes may happen, but we are expecting tremendous growth in terms of consumers, subscribers, content and revenue. Variations in content can be expected; new formats like dailies and realities can be expected. The developments in the entire language space beside Hindi and English will be anticipated; gamification and AR/VR will also emerge.” 

Speaking about ALTBalaji’s content line-up for 2019 across diverse genres, Dixit said, “With originals like ‘Gandii Baat 2’, ‘Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain 2’, ‘Cold Lassi Aur Chicken Masala’, ‘Puncchbeat’, ‘The Verdict State Vs Nanavati’ and ‘Cartel’, the audiences are surely going to be entertained by a content library that is not only varied, but new and captivating as well.” 

Speaking about what SonyLIV has lined up for 2019, Sodhi said that the OTT player is kickstarted the year with the launch of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2’. “We are also geared up to bring the best of English entertainment. Building the momentum, we wish to up the game in content curation and consumer engagement initiatives over the next year. We will continue to invest in product, technology, and marketing. We will also continue to have an increasing thrust on original content across languages to tap into an expansive consumer base. Along with our premium English content offering and sports content, we have plans to develop host of regional content across regional languages, including south Indian languages. There is going to be an upsurge in OTT content consumption that will reflect a raise in terms of viewership and growth and SonyLIV will be at the forefront of this development.” 

“Nothing beats OOH” 

When it comes to the core factors that form the crux of OTT show promotions, for Amarjeet Singh Hudda, COO, Laqshya Solutions, the outdoor agency arm of Laqshya Media Group, dominance, in one word, is the crux. “Uncensored stories, bold themes and not limited by any demographics. Every player is fighting the battle to be seen as vividly as possible and this just means showcasing the compelling creative in a clutter breaking way – be it the innovative way of cluster branding, using jut-out to bring the central character alive or painting the town completely to dominate the message. The OTT players are trying all possible ways to reach out to their TG using the most impactful medium of OOH,” Hudda pointed out. 

“The OTT space is seeing more and more new players entering the space, and for all OOH is the main platform for communication as it is the cheapest and the best,” noted Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Director, Global Advertisers. “We have the most prominent sites in Mumbai. We have done the latest campaign with ZEE5. I personally feel that OOH is the best form to communicate to your audience,” Gupta affirmed. 

Ideation 

For Laqshya Solutions, the ideation starts from understanding the show and its story. Elaborating on the process, Hudda said, “We try bringing out the story using OOH in the best possible way. Our recent campaign for ZEE5 has been hugely successfully in terms of visibility. A mix of transit media fused with innovative impactful billboards were the highlights. The jut-outs were chosen to bring out the story of the central character, thus invoking curiosity of the show. Cluster branding at key pockets also helped along with creating dominance zones.” 

For Gupta, the ideation completely depends on the brief that the agency gets, the audience that the OTT player wants to target, the locations that they are more focussed on, as well as what their budget is. 

Medium for promotion 

When it comes to the media choices for OTT show promotions, a lot depends on the TG and objectives. Hudda of Laqshya Solutions, noted, “By large OTT players’ visibility competition is fierce. Every player wants to be dominant along with being creatively visible. This makes large-sized billboards at key arterial routes the most apt for them.” 

OTT gives consumer the liberty to view shows at ease and for all sections of TG, so every media that can be made visible as they participate in their daily routine would work best for them, including transit and/or ambient space. 

Global Advertisers’ Gupta emphatically stated, “Nothing beats OOH, as TV is expensive and print doesn’t reach out to the maximum. OOH will stay as a communication point as more and more people are outdoors and it is visible. Communication in outdoor can be in many forms – it can be furniture, hoardings, LED screens, bus panels, etc.”

Factoring in the spends 

As far as spends are concerned, Hudda noted that Originals will take precedence over re-runs and thus, have larger budgets. He further said, “Investments increase if the show gets good response and downloads/ hits increase on the platform. The recent spends by Amazon and Netflix on some of their Original content was huge on OOH.” 

“The year 2018 was all about experimenting and we are expecting a much organised spends strategy coming up in 2019. Another exciting phase would be the entry of regional based OTT platforms like Hoichoi, etc., that has been recently launched, which would be a game changer and will compel the existing players to showcase their offering much more fiercely and innovatively,” Hudda added. 

Gupta acknowledged that there has been a huge spike in spends and everyone now sees OOH as a medium of communication.

While currently the content of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is more about Originals than re-runs or premieres, Hudda noted that both have positively impacted the OTT traction and market has only grown due to this. 

He added, “Spends depend on overall budgets and thus, platforms with deeper pockets can have sustained visibility driving the brand awareness and slowly building the saliency. With every player bringing a host of content offering, it will be all about staying creative and being the ‘Top of Mind Recall’.”  

On a parting note, Global Advertisers’ Gupta said, “The OTT players need to up their game on OOH as it is a prominent visible platform and it’s a visibility game; the more you are visible, the more eyeballs you will get into your shows.”

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