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OTT platforms cut ad spend on print and outdoor, focus on digital to acquire new audiences

The pandemic forced OTT platforms, one of the largest spenders on print and outdoor, to revise their marketing strategy. The challenge forced the video streaming industry to focus on digital means to increase reach and acquire a newer audience base

India’s OTT industry, which was among the largest spenders on print and outdoor, has scaled down its marketing activities on these two mediums and is focusing more on digital to reach out to audiences and acquire new subscribers. 

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The likes of MX Player, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Zee5, AltBalaji, Voot among others used to advertise a lot in print and outdoor at the time of launch of their new shows. But with the distribution of newspapers taking a hit and the public being inside because of the lockdown, OTT platforms have moved to a more cost-effective way of reaching out. 

According to experts, marketing in such times is about reaching out to maximum people with the avenues available. As a result, most OTT platforms have started communicating through digital in a big way.

Abhishek Joshi

According to Abhishek Joshi, Head of Marketing and Business Partnerships at MX Player, the challenge is to explore avenues where the consumer is available and that is digital.

“At a fundamental level, marketing is the process of understanding your customers and building relationships with them. So, all that has changed in today’s scenario is reaching out to them where they are available, which is indoors, with their window to the world being news, social platforms, music, entertainment, streaming VOD, mobile games and TV to a certain extent.

“As opposed to a normal situation, the challenge now is to explore more avenues to reach the consumer to where he is and that’s a digital outreach strategy. Basically, a lot more digital is being added to the traditional media mix,” he said.

He said people will continue to use mobile phones to consume content. “I think the best way is to create more focussed audience buckets with social distancing and WFH possibly becoming the new normal. People will continue to consume content primarily on their pocket screens, even after lockdown. Mobile will be the new form of content distribution,” he said.

Divya Dixit

Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Analytics and Direct Revenue, ALTBalaji, said they have cut down above-the-line marketing spends and are focusing on digital and television. “As a marketer, the safest way to go is digital. Earlier, it used to be 360 degrees kind of campaigns looking at the segment of the show. Now it’s about reaching out to the audience with the avenues that are available to you and that is the strategy we are focusing on,” she said.

Focus on acquiring new audiences

Marketers are focusing on acquiring newer people and making them comfortable with OTT. According to Dixit, the digital habits that people have acquired during the lockdown will continue to influence them even after it is lifted. She said as digital penetration grows in the country, people will eventually come to OTT.

"I have a feeling that content and viewing habits will come to digital because of the fact that in India every month more and more people are getting connected to the internet. For these people, we launched 60-plus shows and launched our 61st show yesterday, 'Baarish' season 2. The library is totally new. For us, marketing and content strategy is focused on people who have not seen our library. We are reaching out to them and making them aware," she said. She said they are in the position to launch new shows as they had a few that were already shot and were in the post-production phase before the lockdown.

According to Joshi, the best way to acquire a newer audience base is to create a diverse library. "There has been an acceleration in digital consumption with audiences turning to OTT to find calm in times of uncertainty – be it to stay informed or to be entertained. Streaming habits are evolving and becoming more diverse, and the only way to satiate this need is to offer an infinite amount of programming across an array of digital formats. MX Player has launched nine Originals/ Exclusives since March, ranging across language and genres like thrillers, crime dramas, slice-of-life flicks and more, staying true to our promise of ‘everytainment’. We’ve seen a surge in engagement and every metric has been on the rise," he said.

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