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We will be India’s first AVOD platform to soon have a profitable business, says Akash Banerji of Voot

The video platform has reached 100 mn MAUs with 100 bn minutes of watch time in 2019. Banerji discusses with the platform’s competition with others, the opportunities it has for advertisers and plans for 2020

Akash Banerji

Beginning the year 2020 with 100 million MAUs (monthly active users) and garnering100 billion minutes of watch time in the last year, Voot is confident to turn profitable in 2020.

In an interaction with, Akash Banerji, Business Head, Voot Advertising Video Platform (AVoD), talks about the factors that led to the growth of the platform. He discusses the newer, agile version of the platform with enhanced tech support and how it keeps a library of reality shows for inviting new users and dramas for better consumption. The platform plans to open a sales partner network in the coming months for advertisers to have a dashboard of available inventories. 

As the OTT (over the top) category still continues to be the darling of the masses, Voot has clearly managed to build an advertiser friendly ecosystem on four fronts—reach, inventory, measurement, and videos solutions.

“Our ambition for 2020 is that we are moving towards profitability. It is going to happen much sooner than a year. I'm confident that we will be the first AVOD platform in this country to have a profitable business. We are moving steadfast in our journey to drive it. Voot is indeed the fastest growing segment in the entire Viacom18 portfolio with respect to the growth in user numbers and revenue,” he said. 

Banerji explained how the platform works on three measurement tools: Moat, to define better viewablity, Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings, which helps in determining the success rate of reach and Mavaric, which is an in-house DMP. It gives rich insights about the audiences via programmatic from which the platform gets close to 50% of its advertising.

To enhance its partner ecosystem, he said the platform will soon launch a sales partner network where advertisers can have a dashboard of inventories.

Apart from this, he said 10% of revenue comes from Voot Studio, where it co-creates content with brands. It aims to double the revenue through the next year.  

Launched in April 2019, Voot Studio is a playbook for advertisers and brands of all sizes that has been built using a combination of our creative storytelling, production expertise, interactivity offerings, social media platforms and native elements that come together to meet the business objectives brands. In less than a year VOOT Studio has co-created marquee properties with brands, helping each brand uniquely deliver on their brand narrative.   Unique shows and formats like TikTok present Work it Up with Sophie & #Cheatweekin Singapore with Singapore Tourism amongst others have all contributed to building equity and resonance for the brands.

The platform witnessed 4X growth in views from regional content. Focused on driving growth from tier II, tier III and vernacular markets, Banerji said up to 30% of their consumption comes from vernacular languages, which contribute 23% to the total revenue.

Asked if the platform plans to boost content in the coming year, he said, “We intend to see how much new content has revenue possibilities. We are not going to do anything just for the heck of it. If creating five new original content pieces can drive a lot of sponsorship and inventory opportunities, we will do it or else not.”

Talking about the cost acquiring users for the platform and the industry overall, he said they constantly focus on optimising the cost.

“In digital, we never talk about reducing the cost. We always talk about optimising the cost. We were one of the first OTT platforms that actually brought the cost of acquisition to a below Rs 10, which happened on the back of massive optimisation. Talking about what's going to happen in the industry with respect to either the cost of acquisition going up or down is a double-edged sword.”

Discussing the platform’s competition with the global players like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which largely work on the SVOD (subscription-based video on demand) model, Banerji said AVOD platforms are in the business of maximising reach and maximising watch time, which remains the success metric as well. In SVOD, aggregating a lot of users and watch time beyond a point does not have any consequence. It is about maximising the subscriber growth.

“In the long run, all (SVOD, AVOD, Freemium and others) are going to win because the market is diverse. With this, there are 50-50 chances of consolidation happening in future because there can be a lot platforms that might not necessarily appeal to the entire country. So, consolidation is a far cry from reality as of now. However, the top three-five platforms will make the most money,” he added.

Banerji attributed the growth of the platform to its massive engagement on the back of the diversity of the audience. He said it is the only digital video platform and possibly the only digital platform that has a 50:50 skew of females and males, which presents a good opportunity for FMCG advertisers.

For a platform, it's imperative to have that right balance between the massive rosters of drama and non-fiction shows. Banerji pointed out how on the platform reality shows such as Bigg Boss and Splitsvilla bring in a huge queue of new users. However, reality shows do not drive as much consumption compared to drama shows. Drama shows drive 70% of the total consumption.

The digital platform has just launched its newer version, 3.0, for better discoverability of shows, to drive higher personalisation and great recommendation. It aims to become self-reliant on the tech front. It has also started with a big tech team in Bangalore to gradually move away or reduce the dependence on other partners, building its own team of coders, machine learning and AI experts.

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