Rewind 2020: “OTT became a viable competitor to traditional means of entertainment”
As we are set to bid adieu to 2020 – a year of major disruptions, global shutdowns, economic rollercoaster due to COVID-19 – there are several lessons and takeaways from this momentous year. Adgully brings its annual review of the year gone by, wherein industry experts analyse the most significant developments and trends of the year and their implications on the coming year as well.
Looking back at the year gone by, Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult, thinks that OTT might overtake the film and television industry in the near future. Looking ahead at the upcoming year, she feels short video apps will be more in trend.
Developments & disruptions
The year 2020, largely defined by the pandemic, disrupted the way we lived and worked. It forced historic deployment of remote work and digital access to services across every domain. It led to the mass adoption of digital with more hours being spent online and over 600 million users entering into the digital space as ‘first time users’. With the initial phase of lockdown, the e-commerce industry reshaped itself to cater to the changing needs of the consumers, like incorporation of safety measures, addition of essentials in their catalogues, being present where the majority of the audience was, that is, social media. Social media experienced greater traction to compensate for the lack of physical social connection. Content consumption on online video streaming platforms saw an intense rise, with new subscribers and more time spent online. All of this carried on to the later phases as well to some extent, as people got familiarised to these trends. In order to better cater to the increasing user base, the digital sphere in general focused more on localisation and personalisation, using technologies like Artificial Intelligence, geo-tagging, data analytic, among others. The vernacular influencers, the local brands and the regional content were preferred much more by the consumers, especially the newer ones.
Many things will be taken forward to 2021 as the year has changed both – the marketers and the consumers – on a very basic level. Technology will continue to play a vital role in providing the consumers an engaging and interactive online experience. This experience will also be made much more inclusive and diverse, with a focus on the expanding user base and their changing preferences. Basically, even while using state-of-the-art techniques one needs to keep in mind that even on digital, a human connection must be made for the best results and that will be the most important learning for the next year.
The year in Digital
The initial months of 2020 saw the world go into a lockdown due to the widespread pandemic. This asked for a safe alternative for all our daily needs and wants. The Digital industry stepped up as that alternative, aiding in several of our activities and providing solutions for various problems. Hence, its initial growth can be looked at as born out of necessity, but gradually it has carved a much deeper space in almost every Indian household because of its sheer scope, reach and usefulness. With 661.94 million Internet users at the end of 2019 in India, easy availability of inexpensive handheld devices and cheaper internet packages, Indian consumers were well adapted to go digital.
In light of the pandemic, people looked to the digital spheres for many of their requirements, major among them being shopping, propelling the already rising e-commerce industry to newer heights and more. Newer facets of online shopping were discovered and utilised, like social commerce, voice commerce, hyperlocal commerce, etc. Although they found a stronger footing because of the situation, they’ll still continue to grow exponentially as the consumers have gotten used to the ease and convenience they bring into their lives. Same goes for the boom in the OTT industry. It has presented itself as a viable competitor to the traditional means of entertainment. Considering the newer vernacular user base joining the platforms, the content offerings were reshaped and evolved and AI was skillfully employed to offer personalised experience. The growing demand for fresh content was satiated by original content and the digital release of several mainstream Bollywood movies like ‘Gulabo Sitabo’, ‘Gunjan Saxena’, to name a few. Looking back at the year, it won’t be too farfetched to say that it may overtake the film and television industry in the near future.
Looking ahead in 2021
One of the most prominent changes that 2020 has brought in is the consumers’ increasing inclination towards a more personalised and customised content. In fact, 91% consumers in an Accenture survey said that they are more likely to shop with brands that provide specifically relevant recommendations and offers. This consumer preference will lead to a major trend in 2021 as it carries forward. It will consecutively lead to a further implementation of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Analytics, in the digital marketing landscape as they immensely help in matching a specific audience with the most relevant content for them. For instance, SEO won’t just be relevant for text searches anymore, rather the arena of video and image SEO has opened up to be utilised. With more and more digital users preferring to engage with images and videos, brands might want to fully leverage this opportunity, especially in the e-commerce sector. Google even offers an easy search option with its ‘Lens’ app and it recently revealed that more people use the app in India every month than in any other country worldwide.
Another trend to look forward to in 2021 is the short-form videos picking up extreme pace, with Instagram’s Reels at the front and center. They will prove useful in all forms and capacities, from increasing engagement, to attracting a younger consumer base, to being used for marketing products.
Some trends from 2020 that will continue on to the new year would be the increased use of e-commerce, voice technology, influencer marketing, increased focus on the local element of marketing, incorporating regional languages and the demand for a more humanised and considerate approach in a brand’s way of marketing. Businesses will continue to invest in end-to-end digital transformation to future proof against any unforeseen disruption. The digital medium, being one of the most profitable industries during these complicated times, will be registering a growth of 13-16% over 2019. It is not as high as predicted during the beginning of 2020, but all things considered, it is a miraculous achievement. Digital was able to hold its own financial spine during a pandemic, so 2021 will definitely see it grow with a renewed energy, especially since more users are accepting and enjoying the multitude of benefits it offers.