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Advertisers need more clarity in understanding how audio OTTs can impact their campaigns: Bharat Khatri of Xaxis India

In an interaction with, Bharat Khatri, Country Lead, Xaxis India, discusses the dynamics of digital audio advertising in India and how the underdog medium offers great potential

Bharat Khatri

Seventy-one per cent marketers are allotting just 10% of the total ad spend on audio advertising, according to Programmatic Audio playbook Xaxis. Speaking about what is stalling marketers from investing in this space, Bharat Khatri, Country Lead, Xaxis India, says, “One barrier all advertisers are facing is that more clarity is required in the market in terms of how digital audio will impact the overall digital campaigns and what kind of marketing objective can be achieved by running budgets here,” he said.

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“The challenge is to know the impact of programmatic or digital audio advertising. Advertisers again are finding it difficult to figure which kind of campaign must be run and whether they must use it for recall or action-based campaigns. This is stopping advertisers from increasing their spending on digital audio. However, we are seeing a catch-up happening and brands are giving due justice to audio platforms,” he said.

Khatri said these platforms are now offering a variety of options to advertisers in terms of innovation and reach. “Most of the platforms are bringing innovations like 3D sound effects in audio ads, creating microsites, and creating conversational ads,” he said.

According to Khatri, because these platforms are on-demand, advertisers have more targeting options and this ensures a better ROI. “While on traditional radio, people used to target around content, channels and according to the time, digital is far more robust when it comes to demo targeting like male and female and age groups. You can have geo-targeting if you want to target specific cities, behaviours and ethnicities,” he said.

“If you digitally target, you can definitely have a larger ROI. You can know whether, after the ad, the consumer has visited your website, visited your offline store. So definitely it brings this additional benefit. These are on-demand; you don't force consumers to come in at a specific time. The consumer can put in his choice about what kind of music he listens to, which genre they listen to and you can also know his mood depending on the music.”

According to Khatri, Gaana and JioSaavn are doing better in terms of ad revenues due to their reach and they have more ad opportunities available. He said even though Spotify was a late entrant in the Indian market, it is offering exciting options to advertisers in terms of offering and innovations.

“An innovative work we did with Spotify was creating a microsite for Subway and within the microsite, we used AI that recommends music based on the flavour of the sub which the consumer is opting for. For eg: if someone is opting for a tikka flavour, they would be given a different playlist and Spotify is known for these kinds of innovations as a global audio platform,” he said.

He said as Spotify has a large podcast library and other content offerings, they will scale the user base in India.  

Khatri said most platforms are operating between 20 paisa and 25 paisa for a cost per spot. “If you run a thousand impressions on the audio platform, they charge you 20 paisa-25 paisa for 1,000 insertions. Within this range, you can target according to demography and geography.”

“Definitely the pricing is like this because it's an underdog medium and the potential is not yet met, that's why the pricing offered to the advertisers is very competitive. They are currently looking to attract more advertisers. The type of audience the audio platforms get is unique because when you’re engaging with this audience, somewhere the brand recall is always higher because the environment is not cluttered like video,” he added.

Speaking about the changes in consumer behaviour in the last few months, he said smartphone availability and cheap internet are driving the consumption of audio OTTs. He said as people are mostly at home, the consumption medium has changed. Instead of listening to music during travel on mobile devices or on audio systems in cars, people are increasingly using smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home.

“Platforms have started supporting independent artists and that consumption is increasing as well. There is also a shift in devices. Earlier when consumers were traveling they were operating the apps through mobile devices but now, we are seeing a major jump of audio consumption through smart speakers like Alexa and Google home. A new set of consumers is household females. Their kids are now doing home school and the new trend is that to get their attention away from screens, they are using these speakers to recite stories or any other kind of interaction,” he added.

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