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After TikTok’s exit, short-video platforms yet to catch fancy of advertisers

We ask industry leaders what it will take for brands to trust TikTok-type short-format video platforms and invest in them

TikTok had some memorable and viral campaigns. The challenges used to get millions of views and user-generated content would also be huge. Since its exit from the market, the number of short-video platforms has grown but we don’t see such numbers anymore.

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Hayden Scott

According to Hayden Scott, Group Creative Director, Famous Innovations, brands seem a bit reticent when it comes to choosing a short-video platform. Asked what it will take for brands to trust these platforms again, he said “Brands jumped on to the TikTok gravy train because it was exploding like never before. No trust there. Just opportunistic marketing. The other platforms, because they are copies of TikTok, at least in terms of the format, will need to differentiate themselves better to even be considered as serious contenders. We are in an era of doing things that have never been done before. And that’s not going to happen if we become clones of clones.”

Viraj Jit Singh, Sr. Vice-President and Head Revenue, MX Player, said applications on the back of VOD platforms drive more engagement. He said for brands to zero in on a platform, it really boils down to the engagement metrics. Another key factor that will drive the space is reach across markets. Penetration in tier2/3/4 regions will fuel reach as well as engagement, thereby showcasing value to prospective brands.

“With MX TakaTak, we have managed to tick the engagement bucket as well as the reach bucket with a strong user base of over 10 million MAU. Not just that, we have over 600 of the most popular TikTok Influencers on MX TakaTak, creating exclusive content for our user base. MX TakaTak has some of the biggest content creators such as Badshah, who help in fuelling our growth and striking a chord with users through engaging content. One of the key aspects that drive creators to partner with us is the scale of offer coupled with the creator's first technology that drives creativity. In addition to that, the content creators are available to the brands as influencers to drive deeper engagement,” he added.

Sumit Ghosh

Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder and CEO, Chingari, said brands are still figuring out where they will get the best value. He said users today are segregated across different apps. Ghosh also said today the brands are looking for performance campaigns rather than branding campaigns as they are easy to measure.

“Chingari has 31 million users. In the next six months, we will probably be at 100 million-plus. We have seen the results with performance campaigns that we are running for brands and there are also third-party platforms that can measure the reach of platforms like us. Over time, brands will figure it out and get back on these platforms,” he said.

“Right now if brands want to run performance campaigns, the options are Facebook, Instagram, and such large companies. But in the short video space, it is just us,” he added.

“The short-video format presents brands with a plethora of ad monetisation options, gearing the space up for an exciting phase. At MX Player, we present advertisers with an ‘Everytainment’ pack, that comprises inventory, reaching across all our formats, including VOD, games and short video and enables brands to engage with their target audience at different times of the day,” said Singh.

The MX approach has always been to provide solutions to its clients instead of just inventory. The MX Player app at 200Mn MAU is the No. 1 entertainment app and offers scale, unique reach and premium content for brands to leverage. In addition, our Everytainment offer provides significant differentiation and brands are rapidly adopting this offering festive season. Through the super app, brands engage with the user across their entertainment journey through the day / week / month. The user could be watching video on the OTT, listening to music on the audio streaming, playing a game and now engaging with short videos on MX TakaTak, which is available on both the main MX Player and the MX TakaTak app,” he added.

Scott pointed out the need for innovation in the space to attract brands. He said there is a need for brands and agencies to innovate more on these platforms. “Barring a few exceptions, most branded content on these platforms is more of the same. How many dance and dub challenges will you do? And then, of course, there’s the question of reach and engagement. Which platform offers what and how is it going to help my brand.”

He said it's the real people who are creating content on these platforms this can help brands tremendously. “But unfortunately, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities. Honestly, I see that as an opportunity for agencies — to study the medium and come up with stuff to set a new gold standard for the industry,” Scott said.

The rise of OTT-backed short-format video platforms

Over time we have noticed a number of OTT platforms launch their short-format video versions. These platforms like MX Takatak and HiPi have already captured the market. MX Taka Tak has reached 15 million-plus video uploads and more than one billion views.

According to Scott, they offer advertisers a ready and (hopefully) willing captive audience base. He said Chingari and Roposo are doing extremely well in tier two and three towns and clients choose platforms based on their requirements.

“We aim to follow something that we like to call a ‘dual’ strategy. So, while MX TakaTak will be available as a standalone application, it will also reside on the MX Player application. During the course of conversations with advertisers, we are the only player in the market to offer short-video, premium video, display and inventory on gaming property. This goes beyond the realms of having multiple businesses in one application; there is seamless integration which enhances customer experience. To further empower advertisers, we make use of big data to drive insights on content consumption patterns, enabling them to target better,” said Singh.

Divya Dixit

Taking a different route, ALTBalaji has partnered with Roposo, and Chingari platforms to amplify their content at large. When asked how this will help ALTBalaji, Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Analytics, and Direct Revenue, ALTBalaji, said, “Being an SVOD platform, our focus is to engage with the audience and expand our reach and give them a glimpse of the diverse content we have to offer. These short-video apps have very well captured the mass audience of our country and we are certain that it will allow us to create an immense amount of UGC that is essential today for content marketing.”

“Recently there has been a proliferation of home-grown platforms such as Roposo, Chingari, Josh, etc. that are capturing the market, brands, and audiences, alike with their seamless services and easy-to-use features. Audiences have already started embracing the new players, resulting in brands exploring these platforms through associations. As the audience engagement increases, we will witness more advertising brands shifting towards these platforms and we are certain that in the days to come, there is a huge scope for them to grow across the country,” she added.

However, Ghosh says most of these players came in after the TikTok ban to cash on the void. “There is a long-term play and a short-term play, Chingari is aiming at long-term play and we have a long-term product plan. I don’t think the same holds true for other apps that have spun from OTT platforms. They are more focused on content. Just having some celebrity or some content on the platforms won’t cut it. It is about the democratisation of content creation and technology,” he said.

He said when Reels was launched, everyone thought it would be the next TikTok but that has not happened and it has become an aggregating platform. “People are creating content on Chingari and other apps and posting on Reels. Creation on Reels is not really happening. It has become an aggregation platform and that is what Reels will be. It is not really a competition but more of an aggregation platform.” he said.

When asked about the competition in the space, Singh said the short-video space is seeing a healthy influx of applications on a regular basis. “Having said that, given our multitude of offerings, we believe that MX TakaTak will carve a name for itself in the market. As per third-party research, we are already No.1 of all the new short video apps across metrics such as daily active users, videos uploaded per day and so on. Our app is made to serve the Indian user taking into consideration their requirements, preferences and specifications.”

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