Are local creators replacing traditional mediums for regional content promotions?

In contrast to national-level influencers, regional creators' focused content resonates better with local audiences, leading to higher engagement levels

BuzzInContent Bureau
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In recent times, with the burgeoning regional content space, there has been a spike in the media vehicles used for the promotion of the content therein, so much so, that it is the local/regional content creators who are being leveraged not just for one-offs but for packaged deals, now more than ever as compared to the traditional mediums and even prominent nationally known mega influencers.

Some industry players have emphasised that regional creators are redefining promotional strategies as regional content platforms harness their influence for more engaging and targeted campaigns.

Avinash Mudaliar

As per Avinash Mudaliar, Co-founder and CEO, OTTplay, the rise of regional OTT content has been gaining traction both in India as well as the globe owing to the profound resonance of regional content with diverse audiences. Also, regional narratives, presented in local languages, establish a powerful connection between content and viewers and therefore open up untapped markets.

“Our strategy at OTTplay employs data-driven insights to curate personalised recommendations aligned with viewer preferences and consumption patterns across languages. Partnership with regional broadcasters and distributors, social media campaigns, influencer collaborations and community engagement complement these efforts in generating excitement and fostering cultural ties since the objective extends beyond boosting viewership to facilitate the discovery of exceptional regional content,” he added.

As the OTT aggregator which currently has over 10 regional OTT platforms covering Malayalam, Telegu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Gujarati, amongst others, strives to nurture a sense of cultural identity, the aim, in his views, is to champion diversity and creators by providing a platform that resonates across linguistic backgrounds.

“The Indian market is unique in terms of the multiplicity of languages and cultures, this diversity is reflected in its regional content which is gaining all the more popularity owing to the emotional connect for localisation and cultural authenticity, target marketing, regional partnership and promotion as well as consumer interest. As a result, regional influencers, who have a better understanding of the cultural nuances and preferences of their specific region, can communicate and connect in a way that feels more personal, relevant, relatable and that too in the local language,” he added.

Sanjay Chhabria

Similarly,  Sanjay Chhabria, Founder and CEO, Everest Entertainment, the Marathi content production company, also emphasised like various other shows which use influencers to create a buzz, today they too partner with several regional content creators, some mega and some mid-sized influencers, to create promotional content or reels which are posted during the release week of some of the Marathi regional shows.

“Earlier, maximum spending used to be on TV spots of GEC and Movie channels, followed by print ads in Maharashtra Times and other publications, and then on the regular OOH, but today, what has happened post-pandemic is that the traditional media such as TV, which was the go-to medium for shows owing to the massive audience reach, are not working anymore in terms of the desired outcomes for these regional shows,” he said.

Mitesh Kothari

As per Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, White Rivers Media, India is currently leading in numbers with about 467 million users on a free video streaming platform, and clocking over 25 billion hours of entertainment app streaming in 2022, marking a 52% increase from 2019. In fact, the demand has sparked an upsurge in diverse regional content across languages and genres- the implications of which reverberate not only in the form of engaging narratives but also in empowering local talent and establishing collaborations that are propelling the future of storytelling into a new era of audience engagement and content creation.

“The surge in popularity of regional OTT content has significantly bolstered local content creators, providing them with newfound opportunities for growth. Collaborative efforts within the creator ecosystem across OTT platforms are reshaping the landscape of storytelling. As a result, regional OTT content on platforms such as Aha (Telugu), Hoichoi (Bengali), Planet Marathi, Koode (Malayalam), and City Short TV (Gujarati), has been significantly gaining popularity among local creators in states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu,” he stated.

Devarshi Shah

According to Devarshi Shah, SVP and Business Head- Global Creators Network, OML Entertainment, in the realm of promoting regional content, various strategic mediums are deployed to capture the audience's attention and create a buzz around the shows and titles. These initiatives serve several objectives, all aimed at enhancing engagement, viewership as well as recall.

Of this, collaborating with influencers and local celebrities who have a strong presence in specific regions often helps regional platforms tap into existing fan bases as these influencers when creating content that resonates with their followers and express excitement for certain shows or provide their unique perspective when discussing upcoming shows create a sense of authenticity and relatability, which in turn encourages their followers to check out the content, he said.

“In the pursuit of promoting shows and enhancing viewership along with the recall, influencer marketing plays a pivotal role and is particularly vital in India since consumers exhibit a 15X higher engagement rate with influencers compared to brand pages as they offer brands a versatile and expansive platform, enabling them to connect with a broader audience- beyond the confines of their own brand pages,” he added.

Shivani Kamdar

In the views of Shivani Kamdar, Associate Creative Director, SoCheers, Owing to the growing affinity for vernacular content, OTT platforms often produce localised content and campaigns when they themselves have a better understanding of the audience in terms of the content consumption patterns and touchpoints and for this, they often tend to take the cost-effective and impactful route. 

“Influencers, especially regional influencers have a strong existing base of followers, it helps brands leverage their regional presence to tap on a niche, yet wider audience,” she added.

As per WRM’s Kothari, the significance of influencer marketing has stood out over the years as more and more people are joining the social ecosystem and connecting with influencers they resonate with. It alleviates the challenge of identifying and connecting with the right audience by leveraging the groundwork already accomplished by influencers.

“The focal point here lies in aligning the influencer's niche and public persona with the brand's image. A well-thought strategic approach helps us optimally utilize the influencer's established reach to foster audience engagement effectively. Regional influencer marketing goes one step further as the level of connection that the influencers share with their audience is even deeper, and thus, can be more yielding,” he said.

As per OML Entertainment’s Shah, when selecting creators for collaboration what’s utmost important is that a comprehensive evaluation is undertaken, considering both qualitative and quantitative factors, which encompasses aspects such as following,  engagement rate, content format/IP performance, demographics, geographical reach, median engagement and views, audience overlaps, Cost-Per-View (CPV) and Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE).

“This meticulous assessment ensures creators are aligned with the brand's objectives, maximising the impact of influencer marketing. Furthermore, this strategy fosters a bridge between the show's audience and regional creators, facilitating potential audience overlap, thereby magnifying the promotional efforts' effectiveness,” he added.

SoCheers’ Kamdar also pointed out that the agency from a selection pov, the checklist that the agency factors in includes the type of content the influencers churn, how engaging their associations are and other numbers such as their community, engagement rate, followers etc.

Commenting on what checks the box for leveraging regional content creators over nation-wide known mega influencers, OTTplay’s Mudaliar stated that the distinguishing factor brought forth by regional creators is their ability to foster a sense of community unique to their particular region which entails incorporating local languages, cultural nuances and relatable content that resonates deeply with the audience and results in heightened engagement and a more immersive viewing experience.

“Comparatively, regional creators tend to achieve higher levels of engagement and interaction when compared to national-level creators. This can be attributed to the inherently targeted content created by regional influencers, as opposed to the broader, more generalised approach often taken by national influencers who cater to a more diverse audience,” he added.

Everest Entertainment’s Chhabria also went on to share the example of some of the renowned Bollywood celebs leveraging creators to market their movies, which also gave them the confidence to leverage regional content creators, especially from Varanasi, as they add more value than some of the national influencers who have a larger reach and therefore are very commercial nowadays.

“Since we have limited budgets which make it difficult to rope in the mega creators for social media for a one-off project as it isn’t prudent for us to spend everything on a YouTube or Facebook campaign which doesn't really bring the desired results. However, we’re working out on creating package deals for our content with the regional as well as micro-content creators on short-form platforms like Moj to go to the lower segment of the population, i.e.- Tier II and III towns. For such shows which target 15-20-year-olds in these smaller pockets, the best way to reach out to them is through their mobile today, through Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, Facebook and even WhatsApp,” he opined.

OTT regional OTT Avinash Mudaliar Sanjay Chhabria content promotions traditional medium Mitesh Kothari regional shows Devarshi Shah influencers promotion influencer marketing regional content creators