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Video streaming platforms are going big on outdoor advertising as people step out of home after close to two years of covid-induced lockdown.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, ZEE5 and even regional players are looking at billboards, hoardings, metro stations and airports, to promote individual shows and movies or the platform itself.

Media experts say most platforms are focusing on the top 10-12 cities for now but that there is great potential to penetrate further. Outdoor advertising spends for a major platform can touch up to 25 crore annually. Overall, major OTT players are expected to spend upwards of 400 crore annually on advertising and marketing, according to media industry estimates.

“Outdoor advertising is impactful and reaches a mass audience at the same time. We opt for the hoardings or cut-outs or billboards at primary locations across cities in areas with high footfall to ensure maximum impact and reach. This approach while being used in tier-one cities, is actually more impactful in tier-two and tier-three cities where traditional methods of advertising work for audiences who are more accustomed to the offline way of life," said Soumya Mukherjee, chief operating officer at Bengali streaming service Hoichoi.

Outdoor advertisements inform viewers about the app as well as offline packages which the platform offers in retails stores to facilitate those who aren’t well-versed with the online interface, Mukherjee added.

In an earlier interview, Sidharth Shakdher, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer, Disney+ Hotstar had called both outdoor and print impact media that the company uses for new and marquee shows. Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar and ZEE5 declined to comment on Mint’s queries.

As an after-effect of the pandemic, people are more drawn to their screens than ever before, so the most effective form of advertising is definitely online. “However, with people finally stepping out of their homes after two years and populating public places, outdoor advertising is also something we are looking at again, to ensure complete utilisation of both the effects of the pandemic," Mukherjee said.

Hoichoi had explored outdoor advertising in Kolkata for its series Tansener Tanpura right after the city started opening up post the first lockdown in 2020.

Hoardings and billboards are still associated with larger-than-life aspects of life, said Sourav Kumar, co-founder of marketing agency CupShup, pointing out that content with a target audience residing in tier-two and three cities will definitely allocate a good share to OOH (out of home) ads from the media mix.

Kumar cited Netflix’s use of outdoor advertising for its international original Stranger Things as a good example of the strategy.

While outdoor advertising was once considered to be very expensive or too unattainable for smaller companies, it is now more affordable than ever, owing to its availability across so many mediums and sizes, said Robin Thomas, strategic partnerships and growth, at digital agency White Rivers Media. 

“With the ever-growing consumption of content on OTT platforms, they are taking the traditional route of billboards for advertising their content. Over the years, billboards or OOH (out-of-home) advertising has helped many stakeholders drive business with word-of-mouth. Since people also spend quite some time travelling by road in tier-one and tier-two cities, outdoor advertising provides consumption on the go. This year, OTT majors are expected to spend 350-400 crore on out-of-home advertising alone — almost double the last year’s figure," Thomas said.

Atul Shrivastava, group CEO and executive director, Laqshya Media Group, an OOH advertising company said the OTT platform category is emerging as one of the highest spenders for the OOH industry, along with erstwhile players like real estate, auto and mobile handsets. “While OTT players were aggressive about outdoor advertising even before the pandemic, they have now returned in full force as they are fighting for time and viewer eyeballs yet again."

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