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As video is being increasingly seen as the most preferred way to win a consumer’s mind and grab his attention, brands are increasingly betting bigger on OTT platforms among the available video platforms.

Kartikeya Bhandari

“We’re in the age of video. On the back of really affordable smartphones, the cheapest data plan anywhere in the world, and a content explosion of what’s available from creators, publishers and OTT players – video has become the preferred way of engaging online,” said Kartikeya Bhandari, Senior Director, Marketing, Flipkart, in a conversation with BuzzInContent.com.

Diageo has a content property ‘No.1 Yaari’ for its brand McDowell on Viu and appreciates its performance on the OTT platform. The brand believes that OTT platforms can serve the audiences’ on-the-go entertainment consumption needs that television cannot give.

Amarpreet Anand

“Viu’s reach has helped us drive the brand message closer to our target while providing an avenue to introduce McDowell’s No.1 to new audiences. When the idea was being conceptualised with Mindshare, we discussed the usual approaches such as securing a spot on a popular GEC but we believed that our target audience is one that is on the go, often consuming content in transit. Where we landed is that it is equally important to find an OTT partner that is culturally relevant, providing a wider reach,” said Amarpreet Anand, Executive Vice-President and Portfolio Head, Marketing, Diageo India.

According to various reports and analysis, the 18-24 TG has started to migrate out of TV as it doesn’t cater to their entertainment needs today and that’s where OTT and digital come into place.

Sameer Gogate

Sameer Gogate, Head of Monetisation and Distribution at Viu, India, said, “Facebook and YouTube have been here for 10 years now and they have been able to build their reach over a period of time but both these platforms don’t cater to the content need of the consumer. This is the voice OTT has been able to cater to. It caters to the entertainment hunger by content on the platform.”

‘It happened in Hong Kong’ is one of the top web series in the country right now in the digital TG, done for Hong Kong Tourism by Viu. Gogate said, “The show caters to the millennial audience who have never considered Hong Kong as a travel destination and the series has done fabulously well for us.”

OTT platforms can add to the scale of brands’ content initiatives because they have a larger and engaged subscriber base. These platforms also offer great accessibility, giving consumers the freedom to get the desired content anytime, anywhere.

Indiafirst Life Insurance company, a new-age insurance brand, had partnered with Sony LIV for the content initiative ‘Tera Mera Pyaar Amar’ that took the form of a short film. Rushabh Gandhi, Deputy CEO, has been happy with the association while comparing the kind of investments the brand made to the ROI they received.

Rushabh Gandhi

He said, “We did believe very strongly that we will get a bigger bang for the buck from this association. At the end of the day, when you tie up with somebody, you always evaluate the spends for the association. It was very lucrative from a cost point of view. If you look at the give and the get, the amount we actually spent  to create and promote the video was favourable as compared to the 2 million eyeballs we got for the full eight-minutes ”

A lot of factors come into play such as algorithms, discoverability of content, etc., while choosing the platform for the brands’ content needs. On choosing OTT over and above Diageo’s own social media page to put the video content, Anand said, “It’s important to know where your consumer base is – where they go for content. As a brand, we know we cannot rely solely on our own platforms, which is why we prioritise Viu which caters to an audience we’re looking to aggressively reach.”

Explaining the rationale of choosing OTT and not any other platform like Facebook, YouTube, TV, content platform or even its own social media page for its video content initiative, Gandhi said, “If we were to do something on YouTube or an eight-minute video on Facebook or any other OTT platform, the cost per view would be substantially higher. Sony LIV has a huge captive audience and a lot of people watch the channel continuously. They already have a large follower base. If we would have done the same thing on our own platform, we wouldn’t have got that many views”

Done rightly and if the brand is deeply immersed in the storyline of the content, OTT can be the right place for the brands to be in as it can fetch reach and brand recall rather than getting into intrusive and blind messaging.

With a number of options available to put the video content, it becomes just a case of media buying for the brands at times. Just like regular social media practices, a lot of brands end up putting the same content on OTT as well. But given the reach OTT, it should be a well-thought decision and unique content that the brands should create for OTT consumption only.

Priyadarshi Banerjee

Priyadarshi Banerjee, National Revenue Head, Digital and Marketing Head, International Brands, WorldWide Media, said, “Brands are keen to invest in OTT platforms, but would end up running after the media impressions generated on OTT platforms, not so much of custom content creation, because the cost of creating the content and distribution of content on OTT is as much as you pay on TV channels. So you rather do on television than on OTT.”

Along with the growth of the number of OTT platforms and their content quality, brands are increasingly looking at OTT as the preferred option for their video content initiatives. But the road ahead is bumpy. Explaining the challenge, Gogate said, “There are three ways of doing branded content. One is when the brand commissions the product to be produced entirely for it. The other form is when the brand is integrated into the show. Over here, the challenge is that the OTT production cycle is about seven to nine months right now. To marry our cycle to the brand’s need right now is difficult. Once we get over that challenge, even that part of the journey will be solved.”

Ali Hussein

Ali Hussein, COO, Eros Digital, added, “The overall advertising pie is skewed to the TV as compared to digital video, despite the overall unique monthly viewers on digital being a substantial percentage of the overall TV viewing universe. There is a certain amount of inertia within brands to understand and absorb this change. However, we are going through this transition faster than it has ever been in the past.”

Emphasising the need for the brands to look at OTT platforms as not just another medium to put brand content but consciously taken decision, Hussein said, “I believe that it is not ‘just’ another medium but a very relevant one. Brands are required to invest in platforms where audience interest and time spent are significant. Hence, OTT platforms become an interesting avenue for brands for customer messaging, especially when the brands are looking to target the millennial audience.”

On the other hand, most of the marketing budget of the OTT platforms goes into promoting their original content and not the branded content and it's not the most important source of revenue for the OTT players.

Banerjee said, “Not many OTT players promote branded content much. But with the substantial amount of subscription base, they can push the brand content to the audience. It is not the most important thing for OTT platforms to go out and do content creation for brands just like content platforms.”

Varun Duggirala

Concluding about the scenario of branded content scenario on the OTT platforms and its focus on the space, Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder and content chief, The Glitch, said, "The brands need to put on their publisher hat and create content, which is entertainment first with their brand value/values at its core. They then need to look at which platform works basis the audience that needs to be reached and engaged. Regarding the content investments with OTTs, the brands need to be mindful of the right surround they create across social platforms. It's still early days for brands and OTTs to find the right formula which works for both; I'd say they're on their second date".