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Octro Inc. open to ads on gaming platforms, considers brand integrations on games

In an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo.com, Manav Sethi, Chief Marketing Officer, Octro Inc. says brands have approached them with the possibility of doing brand integrations or branded rewards

Manav Sethi

Gaming platforms are fast becoming an attractive destination for brands, which are looking at different options to endorse their products. Though Octro Inc., which has several games such as Teen Patti, Rummy and Tambola, depends very little on advertising for their revenue, they are considering associating with brands on their games. In an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo.com, Manav Sethi, Chief Marketing Officer, Octro Inc. says they are witnessing a lot of interest from brands that want to advertise on their Tambola platform.

They, however, do not wish to hinder the gaming experience of the players and so this would be done before the game begins. “We are considering running ads once the tickets have been distributed or while people are buying the tickets and players would be able to decide if they would like to watch the customised personalised communication.”

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Sethi says Tambola is one of their only games where women outnumber men in the ratio of 80:20. “So brands that target women consumers are seeking for some time to showcase their products,” he said.

Brands have also approached Octro with the possibility of doing brand integrations or branded rewards.

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"In India, people don't like rewards as much in cash as they like in kind. So, for example, a brand can sponsor the Full House or maybe whenever a line is completed, an eyeliner is shown and a beauty brand sponsors it. So these are not meaningless ads, they are very tightly knitted with the playing experience," he said.

During the lockdown, Aditya Birla Group and ICICI Bank had also collaborated with Octro to conduct an employee engagement activity while working from home with a game of Tambola.

In April, they will launch Octro Poker, which they plan to market entirely on digital platforms. They claim to be the only one in India to offer private tables for Poker, which means players can choose to play only with their friends and not with strangers.

They will also expand Poker globally. Once the IPL is over, they will look at branding it in India. Meanwhile, they will look at how they can penetrate deeper into international markets.

“We will have a game that has been made in India, created by a small team based in Noida, with the potential to travel to Western geographies, apart from India. We have made Poker for the international market ground up. Something like this has never been built in India and globally. We have only soft-launched it and we are already seeing high organic traction,” he said.

While Octro Poker has been developed with the idea of launching it globally, they are also considering taking their existing games—Teen Patti, Tambola and Soccer Battle—to the international markets.

Speaking on their marketing plans, Sethi said in 2021 they propose to increase their marketing spend by 100%. From last year’s Rs 100 crore, they plan to increase it to about Rs 150- 200 crore, a majority of which will go to Octro Poker.

With the gaming industry being plagued by a lot of uncertainty with regard to regulations, Octro is cautiously waiting to see how they will pan out for real-money games to decide their remaining ad spends. However, they intend to increase their spends on non-digital mediums from last year’s 5% to 30% this year.

"70% of our allocated marketing budget will be spent on digital and 30% on non-digital. We are cautiously watching what the regulations would mean for the real-money gaming space to decide about the remaining spends. Depending on that, in 2021, we will spend a lot more on TV. In fact, in the non-digital category, the majority spend will certainly go to TV,” he said.

Speaking about their marketing strategy, Sethi said when it comes to real-money gaming, their marketing is largely governed by encouraging responsible behaviour such as ensuring KYC norms and restricting daily cash limits. Octro strives to convey that their games are purely skill-based and not luck-based. In all their communication, they put a disclaimer stating that it is a game of skill and not of chance.

“It's a game of skill, where you need to deploy your mind, your basic math, your abilities of probabilities, and calculations. We communicate this at every possible opportunity. We share our creatives with the #SkillWillWin, so that people know that they are playing a game that is not left to chance. We also do whatever the law of the land requires us to do on the marketing material,” he said.

They ensure their games are not played irresponsibly by putting a disclaimer that these are only for those above 18 years of age, by setting daily limits, having the players’ KYC details and analysing player behaviour deeply. And being a member of The Online Rummy Federation (TORF), they are subjected to several audits every quarter.

“The moment the limit is breached, we don't allow them to play for that day. We also look at their behaviour deeply. So if the players have colluded with each other, we don't allow them to play on the same table,” he added.

Octro is looking at growing 100% year on year. They were ranked number 1 in revenue performance on App Annie and Teen Patti is the only Indian game in Sensor Tower’s top five and the sixth highest grossing app on Play Store.

Octro Inc. has a user base of over 200 million players and they have played about 170 billion plus times on the app. An average session time lasts more than 30 minutes on their platform.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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