Streaming companies retool the visibility kit with spike in viewership

Topics Amazon Prime | Netflix India | ZEE5

For most OTT platforms, the absence of OOH or out of home media that helped mass visibility is being strongly felt
With more people glued to their screens and spending more time online, the pandemic has led to a viewership spike for over-the-top (OTT) platforms. But with traditional advertising modes shuttered down, digital entertainers are looking for ways to leverage the bonanza, unpacking the online-only marketing playbook to engage and encourage discovery of new shows and movies.

For most OTT platforms, the absence of OOH or out of home media that helped mass visibility is being strongly felt. Gaurav Gandhi, director and country GM, Amazon Prime Video India says that given the limited media choices in a lockdown, there was a need to go all out on social and digital media (with some support from TV). Marketing teams have also had to be creative with their hook and bait or else, a new show or a popular film may well disappear under the swish of a scrolling thumb. 

Gandhi says, “Creatively each campaign is unique and is tailor-made for the show.” The responsibility for promoting a show rests on all — actors, producers and the marketing team and every move is coordinated, from the timing of online release of posters and trailer videos to the banter around them.

For Amazon’s Paatal Lok, for instance, promotional campaigns played around with the concept of patal or hell. For that everyone, be it the producers of the show (actor Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Films) or the writers and the marketing team, coordinated their efforts, using a common vocabulary to build interest and generate excitement around the show’s release. 


Raghav Anand, segment leader, digital media, at EY India says, “Marketing budgets for OTT shows are shifting to digital in the current environment and especially to programmatic.” He predicts that performance based campaigns will outweigh brand campaigns till the festive season on digital. Brand campaigns are what are traditionally mounted on OOH and television and which help build up to the release of a show and attach a premium-ness to it, say experts.

India currently has 95 OTT platforms across video, music, podcast and audio streaming categories making it an overcrowded market. To break the clutter, the platforms are using a vast array of experiential tools that integrate AR/VR technology, seeking increased participation of stars and putting their weight behind influencer-led campaigns.

For example, the launch of a new show on ZEE5 (Chintu Ka Birthday) was planned as a watch party on Twitter that was preceded by setting up a chat room with actor Vinay Pathak and an interactive engagement platform, #AskVinay. Rahul Maroli, senior vice president and head SVOD at ZEE5 says the company’s advertising spending on digital has gone up by over 30 per cent.

The campaigns are also designed for a multiplier effect. For instance, Amazon Prime used the premise of the show, the nether world, to generate intrigue and surprise. The team set the time of the launch at 11:34 in the morning, which, if read upside down, spelt HELL (Paatal). Such moves help gain shares and likes and fuel online conversations. Paatal Lok saw a huge organic flow of memes, propelling the show into a big pop cultural moment, according to Gandhi.

The growing importance of digital media will encourage many platforms to dig into the psyche of their audiences to know their likes and dislikes and bring about a more intensive mining of audience data. Anand says, “Performance advertising is tilted towards digital as it has justifiable ROI, targeted messaging, demonstrable measurement metrics and ability to accommodate spends in smaller denominations.”

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