Homegrown OTTs increase marketing spends

  • Services that are tying up with telecom and broadband companies, as well as wallets like Paytm and PhonePe, said most of their marketing is targeted at non-metros.

Lata Jha
Published22 Nov 2022, 03:24 PM IST
Hoichoi resorts heavily to social media and local influencers both from India and Bangladesh
Hoichoi resorts heavily to social media and local influencers both from India and Bangladesh

Armed with budgets of Rs. 30 crore to Rs. 50 crore, homegrown streaming platforms have increased their spending on advertising and influencer marketing to win a slice of the growing OTT (over-the-top) video-on-demand market in India. 

Platforms such as aha Video (Telugu), Hoichoi (Bengali) and Planet Marathi, among others, are looking at high-profile events for individual shows and films, tying up with local influencers in their regions and leveraging the power of television, print and, to a lesser extent, outdoor media. Services that are tying up with telecom and broadband companies, as well as wallets like Paytm and PhonePe, said most of their marketing is targeted at non-metros.

“While international OTT giants have a lot of financial backing and high marketing spends, our audience bases don’t exactly overlap, because our content line-up and target audience are very different. We aim to entertain people in their native language and have created an audience base that aligns with the same,” Soumya Mukherjee, chief operating officer, Hoichoi said.

Mitesh Kothari, co-founder and chief creative officer at digital agency White Rivers Media said Indians are adopting the internet rapidly, and almost 90% of them prefer to watch content in their local language. “This is creating a huge demand for vernacular content and opening up new opportunities for regional platforms,” he said.

Hoichoi resorts heavily to social media and local influencers both from India and Bangladesh who have an understanding of the Bengali culture, Mukherjee said. “Print, online and broadcast media play a crucial role in spreading the word across the nation, especially tier-two and tier-three cities. Outdoor marketing is something we don’t usually use, unless it’s an extremely big release or is relevant to the time, like, say, Durga Puja, when audiences are bound to be out of their homes,” Mukherjee added.

Telugu service Aha spent substantially on brand marketing from the very beginning with a distinct positioning driven by local language entertainment, said Kartheek Kanumuru, head of marketing, Arha Media. The company follows media strategies adopted for films, such as building noise through events to announce projects. “Big releases relevant to a larger audience are leveraged on TV, print, and outdoor, while material that will appeal to specific cohorts is leveraged on digital. Given the proximity to the market, local OTTs have a quicker feedback loop on the efficacy of different ads and may adjust their strategies accordingly,” Kanumuru said. Akshay Bardapurkar, founder of Planet Marathi that advertises in trains and at airports too, said local platforms can now spend up to 50% of the total cost of projects on marketing.

The promotion budgets of regional language streaming services may be lower compared to their foreign counterparts but the marketing strategies are somewhat similar and make use of common tools though the scale of execution is different, said Mahesh K Sharma, vice president, strategic partnerships and alliances at Punjabi service Chaupal. “Regional language OTTs go deep with their marketing strategy while foreign OTTs go wide. Print and digital media are the prime focus while we go for outdoor activities like college activations and mall activations before the launch of content. Our target remains to connect with the hyperlocal audience through mass events in different cities of the state and we do not go beyond regional boundaries,” Sharma said.

Sourjya Mohanty, chief operating officer, EPIC ON, the OTT service owned by IN10 Media Network said one of their key communication strategies centered on social media is to let users know they come with kids safety measures and are meant for family viewing. The platform has also partnered with 25-30 telcom operators globally, for distribution as part of their monthly plan packages..

Local streaming platforms have tie ups with telecom operators and also advertise in local gyms that help them penetrate communities, said Rishabh Khatter, business head at The Rabbit Hole, the video content solutions agency owned by Zoo Media. “They even tie up with cooperative housing societies leveraging notice boards, society WhatsApp groups with micro ambassadors and bundled flyers,” Khatter said. Sushmita Sinha, senior manager, client servicing, at digital marketing agency TheSmallBigIdea said local and regional OTTs play to their strengths, and their marketing strategy is a reflection of their content.

 “While bigger players have massive stars and budgets in their content and even their marketing, the local players have higher relatability, regionalization, and localization. Their marketing strategy includes micro-influencer marketing and meme marketing along with a healthy dose of regionalization.” Sinha added.

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First Published:22 Nov 2022, 03:24 PM IST
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