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The merger of content & commerce has definitely intensified: Industry experts

Technology has been an enabler in every business, including the content industry. India has been making rapid progress on the technology front. The pandemic has accelerated the transition to digital. With change in content consumption behaviour, the OTT business has come into prominence.

The panel discussion on ‘Emerging ad-tech powering OTT platforms’ at SCREENXX 2020 saw industry experts speak about the latest trends that they observed amid the pandemic, as well as how these trends are impacting advertising on OTT and the kind of opportunities that are available. Joining in the discussions were:

Sunny Nagpal, Co-founder and Regional Managing Director, Httpool APAC (Moderator)

Vikram Tanna, COO, Mzaalo

Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital

Kunik Patel, Industry Head - Tech, Telco, OEM & QSR, InMobi

Ravi Shharma, Revenue Head, Gaana

Vinit Mehta, Head of Sales – Indian Sub-Continent, BrightCove

Rajneel Kumar, Business Head Expansion Projects and Head of Products, ZEE5

According to Vikram Tanna, “The digital ecosystem in India has always shown growth and post-lockdown has seen a digital explosion. The new mantra is digital only. Right from education and health to gaming and OTT consumption, everything has shown significant growth. The consumer is very hungry, but is still discerning while consuming content. There are three major trends that I have witnessed – Relevance, Contextual and Data Privacy. OTT is growing with digital because the OTT consumer is most primal digital native. OTT spends will definitely grow and the opportunity is there for brands to build platforms in such a way that the prism of engagement is right in the centre. On our platform, which is enabled by blockchain, we enable brands to create digital goods to start interacting with users and increase engagement.”

“Definitely one of the big changes that we had seen in terms of advertising was definite prudence on budgets and brands keeping a strong eye on every buck spent,” remarked Ravi Shharma. He further said, “In the last 6 months, user behaviour and consumption patterns have changed and mobile has become a central focus in our lives. Another big change that I have seen is many smaller brands in regional areas have started to experiment with digital. There are many first time advertisers who weren’t exposed before. Advertising-backed video on demand are seeing a huge uptake and that will definitely continue. We are seeing a lot of trends on platforms in terms of the kind of music people are listening, podcasts have gained popularity, people are listening to more devotional and meditation content and have been consuming for a longer period of time in a day.”

Speaking on the emerging trends, Siddhartha Roy elucidated, “Due to the pandemic, what was supposed to have happened in India in the next 18 months in terms of growth and consumption was shortened to 60-90 days. Our video service went ballistic in a very short period of time in terms of consumption. This was backed by a lot of regional consumption and the level of personalisation that’s happening through AI and ML layers. Content discovery on OTT platforms is a challenge and once the consumer starts consuming content and when there’s a structured consumption habit formulating, then you have the ability funnel the customer in a systematic manner. This leads to very interesting ad tech. There is localisation happening and brands wanting to go local are targeting those audiences. Brands are looking to create new communities out there.”

Adding further, Roy said, “Ad formats are changing and becoming more native. This space will see constant evolution and as consumption becomes more mainstream and spends increase, more innovations will happen in this space.”

According to Rajneel Kumar, “As a part of acceleration, consumption of TV has increased. The duration of watching has also increased. In the pre-COVID times, there were clear peaks and troughs when content was being consumed. Now they have flattened out more than ever. Consumers are now focusing on ease of use and want TV like experience even on OTT.”

He further said, “Advertisers are looking at more measurability so that their dollars deliver more for them. They are looking at platforms like us for optimisation.”

For Vinit Mehta, “The streaming industry is hot and Brightcove has also seen massive growth. The numbers of OTT in India are off the charts and there’s a massive opportunity in the video space. The merger of content and commerce has definitely intensified. The next evolution in our market will happen in this space. Commerce and content merging is a theme. A few challenges are that newer platforms are falling prey to only programmatic advertising. The idea is actually to marry the best of programmatic and direct selling. Building the right team to make the best of this opportunity is extremely important.”

Kunik Patel commented, “We’ve seen new categories advertising on OTT like CPG and gaming. The number of insertions on OTT has doubled in April as compared to March. The space of traditional advertisers on OTT was taken by newer categories. There’s a lot of emphasis on the bottle funnel in terms of campaigns to gain maximum ROI.”

Catch the full conversation here:

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