JBL to Too Yumm, brands break into ad-free Amazon Prime viewing experience

Inside Edge, a series based on a fictional T 20 cricket team has had in-show brand placements
Brands have been wanting to do business with the subscription-led OTT platforms for a while. The estimated two-million-plus subscribers of Amazon Prime and the 1.2 million-odd for Netflix in India have made these coveted platforms for marketers, while the need to shore up revenues has made the two open to working with brands, without compromising on the promise of no ads on screen. 

The first crack in the door has been pushed open by Amazon Prime for its hit show Inside Edge. JBL and Too Yumm, an audio equipment brand and a snacks label, have been inserted into the storyline, much like what is common practice in non-subscription OTT models, films and digital web series. This is also what Netflix has been doing globally with its series Stranger Things, Green Eggs and Ham and such others. 

Gaurav Gandhi, director and country GM, Amazon Prime Video India says that they are looking for 'innovative' ways to associate with partner brands. For brands this gets them a foot in through the door to a large captive audience. For OTT companies, this helps further monetise their original content without having to run commercials that break the story flow. 

In the Indian market where subscription rates are particularly low, the platforms are keen to establish a more rigorous and regular engagement with brands. It is a way to stave off the threat from home-grown platforms such as Hotstar, estimated to have close to 300 million viewers, and from new entrants with deep-pockets that charge a fraction of their rates. Hotstar however has a different model, the free platform programming comes with regular ads and mid-show breaks. Only the premium subscription-led service promises an ad-free experience.

RP Sanjiv Goenka Group’s Guiltfree Industries that owns and markets the brand Too Yumm! partnered with Amazon Prime for an in-film branding in the series Inside Edge Season 2. For a brand that aims to position itself as a ‘youthful brand and focus on fitness and healthy eating’, the cricketing drama felt like the perfect fit. 

Anupam Bokey, CMO, Guiltfree Industries (RPSG – FMCG) said, “This collaboration will aid Too Yumm! in directly reaching out to our consumers since both, the web-series and the brand, share similar target audiences.” This is not the first association with OTT platforms, it partnered with MX Player for ‘Love OK Please’ in March this year. 

“The costs vary on the level of integration a brand wants to do based on the objectives they want to meet. Films and OTT provide different opportunities and hence cost are not exactly comparable. OTT has several options with different genres and content that allows brands to find the most relevant fit for its target group,” he explains. It is a win-win for brands and video streaming platforms, helping the former find the right audiences and the latter to monetise the content further, without giving in to the need for commercial breaks. 

Gandhi said, “We are continuously raising the bar in the entertainment space by creating world-class original shows. To take this high quality content to our customers, we often look at innovative and engaging ways to market this content through associations with like-minded partner brands.”
For Netflix bringing brands on the partner track is a strategic move in India where it goes up against low-price competitors and faces deep resistance to price hikes. It wants to grow its business here and in the rest of Asia where it may have registered the biggest gains across all regions for Netflix, but that is still a small portion of the overall business.

The streaming major has about 14.48 mn subscribers in the Asia Pacific region as of September 2019. The numbers have nearly tripled from 5.8 mn in 2017 for the corresponding period. India is an important geography in Asia Pacific for Netflix  where it has launched a mobile-only plan around July. 

Netflix is profitable in India, as per market estimates with its revenues registering a several fold jump in FY19. While Amazon Prime Video’s revenue break up is not known, it is also pumping in money to create a steady stream of original content to maintain its lead over Netflix.

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