#SocialThrowback2020: Lights, Camera & Action – Ganesh Gaitonde recaps OTT marketing for the year

Ganesh Gaitonde OTT marketing

As digital accelerations helped transcend demographics and geographics, the rise of OTT platforms as prime channels became undeniable in the digital realm. Ganesh Gaitonde encapsulates how OTT trends evolved in 2020.

Touted to be the age of digital acceleration due to the ongoing pandemic, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the year 2020 marked the emergence of a one-stop-shop for content as the OTT platforms. At a time when consumers were locked inside their homes, OTT channels emerged as a solution for consumers and brands, alike.  

Tracing the evolution of OTT marketing through the lens of one of the most popular Indian OTT characters, Ganesh Gaitonde.

Rise and Rise of OTT: “Lagta Hai Apun Hi Bhagwan Hai” 

The year 2020 marked the year of digitization as pointed by Mohit JoshiCEO, Havas Media Group India. “We fast-forwarded 6 years in 6 months in terms of our digital transformation,” he said. While digitization became the norm and fresh content on television saw a hard pause, OTT seemed to be like the ‘Bhagwan’ of entertainment, as Gaitonde would say it, “Kabhi Kabhi Lagta Hai Apun Hi Bhagwan Hai.”

From 2012- 2020, as the OTT channels increased to 40+ platforms in India, this sector in India witnessed a 30% rise in the number of paid subscribers – from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020, only. The ongoing pandemic only further accelerated the boom in these platforms.

Apart from the rise in the number of subscribers during the period, the OTT platforms adopted a ‘content for all’ approach, encompassing age, geography, and even mood. 

Ali Hussein, CEO, Eros Now, highlighted that a platform catering to various formats and genres stands a winning chance.

With theater releases delayed, the launch of new movies on OTT apps made for an important trend in the year. Amazon Prime astounded everyone with the direct-to-digital release of the much-anticipated Gulabo Sitabo starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana for INR 60-65 Cr. A number of movies then hit the OTT screens – Sadak 2, Shakuntala Devi, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, and many more.

Other genres like kids’ content and the Hallyu Wave including K-Dramas too picked up. The Kids viewership on ZEE5 increased by 200%, launched in 9 languages such as Hindi, English, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, and Bhojpuri. Players such as Netflix and MX Player saw an increase in viewership of Korean Drama, with plans to onboard newer Korean and other international language titles.

This period also witnessed a surge in advertising by brands on OTT platforms.

IPL 13 was a milestone in this area as the league’s viewership surged to 200+million on Disney+Hotstar bringing many advertising opportunities. As expected, the occasion raked in INR 200-250 Cr revenue from Disney+Hotstar, alone according to media reports.

There were also OTT Brand Integration campaigns which saw brands getting creative with the plotline or characters. Center Fresh associated with Prime Video India’s Bandish Bandits, Nykaa signed an integration deal with a host of women-oriented fresh content on Netflix, and more such campaigns saw the light of the day.

With an average time-duration of 70+ minutes a day spent on OTT platforms by Indians, OTT apps enhanced the user experience on the channels with interactive features, customised options, the launch of watch-parties for community-viewing, and even UI in vernacular for better streaming facilities. 

OTT marketing trends

There was also a rise in short format content like Eros Now’s Quickies, ALTBalaji’s association with short video apps like Roposo, Chingari, and Firework to amplify the objective of massifying content for ‘Bharat’ at large.

Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker India shared the entry barrier to social networks has come down. Platforms like Trell and Roposo and Josh have unleashed the talent from all the nooks and crannies of the country.

DTH brands such as Dish TV also launched their OTT arms and e-commerce apps expanded their wings towards the release of new video channels within the e-commerce UI. These included Flipkart Videos, Zomato Originals, and Myntra’s fashion content.

Consumer Trends to Foresee: “Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai

At a time of uncertainty, where Ganesh Gaitonde echos that in the OTT world, “Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai”, the viewing patterns changed. A noticeable trend observed was a significant scaling up of consumers from Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities. As per a report by PwC on Global Entertainment & Media Outlook: 2020-2024, India is one of the fastest-growing OTT markets at 28.6 percent CAGR; to become the sixth-largest market in 2024. 

Divya Dixit, SVP – Direct Revenue, Marketing & Analytics, ALTBalaji shared, “We noticed a significant rise in the amount of time spent consuming content across urban and rural cities. For instance, in the pre-pandemic era, 60% of our consumers would come from the top tier 1 cities, and 40% would come from Tier 2 and 3 cities. Today, however, it is vice versa. A majority of our audience is from the remotest cities, of the country. The year certainly acted as a catalyst in transforming the content consumption habits of the audience, converting fence-sitters to subscribers.”

The radical shift also saw consumers turning to their smartphones and smart TVs for original content and more.  

Kranti Gada, COO, Shemaroo Entertainment pointed out that the OTT space saw a surge in hyper-localized content that caters to the growing demand from the regional markets. 

Re-releasing classics and memorable movies and shows also became a trend to entertain the audience. “This also changed the demographics of the viewers from the first-time users to the middle-aged — all are embracing a growing OTT viewing culture,” she added.

Marketing Strategy & Trends: Malum Pada Ye Khel

According to a TAM report, ad insertions on OTT platforms doubled in April 2020 over March 2020 that included platforms such as Eros Now, Disney+Hotstar, Zee5, Sony Liv, MX Player, VOOT, and more.

Gulabo Sitabo seemed to kickstart the OTT marketing trend of content integration for 2020. Manish Kumar, CEO & Founder, Digi-Osmosis, shared that Magic Bricks’ collaboration with Gulabo Sitabo helped pave way for many more, in the coming months. He also pointed out that Mirzapur 2 with Zomato Loot was another favourite to appeal to the appropriate TG.

Dixit explains that the success of an OTT content integrated campaign can be gauged through multiple parameters including, the User Engagement Rate, Number of Times a User Clicks on the Campaign Link, Number of Back-links to the app or website, and Total Time Spent on the Page, amongst others. “Another aspect revolves around tracking the customer acquisition cost, which regulates the rate of investment while also presenting a holistic idea of the ROI”, she says.  

Nagarajan puts forth a survey by NFX digital highlighting that 88% of respondents found the digital film of Centre Fresh unique with high likeability and uplift in the brand imagery attributes such as stylish and cool.

In-app integration was a tactic that continued to be leveraged by marketers like the Swiggy and Hotstar collaboration. Further, branded content campaigns on OTT, interactive ads with storytelling through suspense and gamification, pre-buzzing the theme of an OTT show and recapping the previous season in case of a new release, content extensions with influencers, cross-posting across content series of the same platforms, Instagram Poll Stories & Contests and Twitter for Poll posts were some of the prominent marketing tactics adopted by the brands during this period.

As celebrity protagonists from OTT series/movies became face of the show, many content pieces brought forth a wave of memes paving the way for organic conversations. Moment marketing and leveraging topicals seemed to be consumed for entertainment by brands and audience, alike. 

The anticipation for Mirzapur 2 gave brands ample opportunities to garner eyeballs, whereas, Masaba Masaba, Sima Aunty, and Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives brought further brand and audience conversations through memes.

Another very interesting trend was the rise of virtual calls as a part of engagement tactics in-line with the theme of releasing content virtually on OTT platforms. In one of the instances, Amazon Prime’s Breathe Into The Shadows attempted to replicate the interaction experience with the viewers. This resulted in receiving 50,000 + calls for the activity.

Many brands also created new IPs such as Zee5 with Dabur Honey on fitness. OTT brands also brought forth an enhanced plethora of Ad Suites for advertising. Disney+Hotstar for instance launched its own influencer marketing tool consisting the celebrities and influencers they work with.

Monetization: “Jang Ki Taiyari”

As per the ‘Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2019-2023’ study, OTT video revenues are expected to grow 15.2% in the next five years. 

So which income model might help continue the OTT business – AVOD, SVOD, or even TVOD? APPLE TV+, for example, is an inquisitive blend of SVOD and TVOD (according to a report, a portion of its titles can be purchased or leased for an extra sum). As varied models hustled for the “Jang Ki Taiyari”, experts foresee crossover models as “maintainable” over the long haul.

Gada further highlights that OTT players also started to experiment with a pay-per-view model or transactional video-on-demand (TVoD) model in the Indian market, particularly for movie premieres. ShemarooMe introduced the model in India for unreleased through a strategic tie-up with BookMyShow. 

“Bundling of streaming services by internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom companies was also leading to significantly wider distribution for almost all OTT players,” she shared.

Going Beyond: “Hum Sab Ka Life Ek Kahani Hai”

As we move forward on the road to 2021, digital will continue to play an integral role in OTT marketing, according to the brand experts.  Dixit highlights that for the brand almost 70% of the marketing budget will be directed towards pure-play digital across social, Google, and affiliates. 

While people will keep the stronghold on metros, it is emerging Bharat that will drive growth for the next billion internet users and therefore price affordability will be followed keeping in mind the audience, says Dixit.

According to the FICCI report, with 5G coming in soon, the number of regional viewers is expected to grow. This will transcend demographics and geographies. Gada puts forth that diversification of content will be critical in staying relevant while also offering the type of differentiated entertainment increasingly demanded by consumers that might range from multi-lingual to multi-genre content.

She adds that the integration of Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom companies bundling OTT video platforms as part of their offerings might see some great innovations.

Further following OTT marketing trends will continue on the road to 2021:

  • More regional and vernacular content will be created in 2021
  • Varied content to push the envelope for fresh narratives and immersive experiences catering to the segmented audiences.
  • Multi-device to flourish for inclusivity and family viewing
  • Movie premiering on OTT will continue
  • OTT artists will become mainline brand advocates and influencers (characters like Munna and Kaleen Bhaiyya could endorse brands tomorrow)

Ganesh Gaitonde concludes the recap of the OTT marketing saying, “Bhagwan aadmi se kahani me baat karta hai. Hum sab ka life ek kahani hai.” And this Kahani is pegged to continue smoothly in the coming year.


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