By Ashvin Vellody and Monika Bagchi
As with many industries, technology has played a key role for advertisers to leverage the OTT platform and the pandemic further accelerated this phenomenon. During lockdown amidst concerns around adequate social distancing, TV show productions were halted, and cinemas were shut down. While there was decline in the overall revenues for the Indian M&E (Media & Entertainment) sector, the digital and online gaming witnessed growth. The digital media spends overtook print and online gaming overtook filmed entertainment; this acted as a cue for advertisers to increase their spends on OTT platforms. While television remained the largest segment, advertising on television took a significant hit as ad volumes severely dipped during the lockdown. The digital advertising remained stable, with traditional advertisers increasing their spending on digital channels.
Here are a couple of key trends that have led to advertisers increasingly choosing OTT platforms –
Content, content everywhere
The OTT players amassed libraries of content that could be viewed anytime, anywhere. Most M&E companies created a parallel OTT platform where their products were available in digital format. As users were spoilt for choices, there was a new generation of mass OTT converts. A surge of regional content further spurred the growth. The lines between regional, national and international content were soon blurred, making all types effortlessly accessible on OTT. The chain reaction was brought in by big production houses releasing content and cinema exclusively on OTT. With the audience flocking to OTT as preferred mode of consumption, it is no big surprise that marketers and advertisers have started looking at OTT as a key channel for reaching out to their audience and be with them on their medium of preference.
It’s the digital technology
The pace of advancements in tech offers advertisers the unique ability to select the geography, demography, behavioural, and other first and third-party data for precision targeting. The potential to personalize and customize topical ads based on the concept of a customer data platform is very impactful. Using technology, the user profiling is accurate enough to place the most relevant advertisement in the most engaging content for the most prospective customer. With engagement now being a two-way street, advertisers can think about customers strategically – as brand ambassadors, influencers, collaborators, and innovators in their engagement models. OTT and digital infrastructure provide means for advertisers to broaden their focus for more collaborative engagement. The result is QR (quick response) banners, augmented reality ads, omnichannel marketing, 3D view, and AI for predictive personalization.
Also, in OTT, since technology allows for the content to be verified and authorized, there is a higher degree of control over quality and better adherence to brand positioning and safety. Advertisements embedded in inappropriate content such as extremist videos can cause a severe dent to brand reputation and can be controlled better using digital technologies.
Last but not the least, digital technology innovations have enabled real-time performance feedback. Advertisers on OTT platforms can track views and every single click, making measurability more granular and real-time. It presents the business lot more options to perform target testing, change creatives, use different languages, buy limited impressions, and instantly modify the budget allocation based on viewer reactions. In a nutshell, technology allows the advertisers on OTT to target greater efficiencies and reduced cost.
While the path is set, challenges do remain; platforms have to continue to invest in technology and build a robust advertising ecosystem rapidly. Few of the players have leveraged new age ad-technologies such as Customer Data Platforms (CDP) and Data Management Platforms (DMP) and other third-party measurement tools. OTT’s other glaring challenge is still a fragmented landscape and lack of common guidelines and industry standards of unified measurement norms. Different metrics are followed in the OTT world leading to lack of standardization, uniformity, and transparency.
So, what does the future hold? In the coming months, we will witness advertisers taking a hybrid approach comprising of mass marketing using traditional channels as well as a hyper localized and targeted marketing using digital mediums such as OTT.
The advertising portfolio for the marketers will thus contain a blend of both worlds, OTT provides advertisers with some unique advantages to tailor and target their message, get feedback and measure ROI in clearer ways. The best way forward for brands is to have specific execution plans based on the strength of each platform, keeping the customer experience at the core.
The authors are Ashvin Vellody, Partner and Monika Bagchi, Director, Deloitte India. Views expressed are personal.