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Digital marketing becomes mainstay for OTT platforms during COVID-19

Services have innovative communication measures.

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MUMBAI: The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works of every single organisation. Even as the media and entertainment industry comes to terms with this ‘new normal’, the over the top (OTT) industry seems to have got a thrust. As digital viewership keeps increasing week on week, it is imperative for streaming services to ensure viewers are aware and engaged.

Right at the beginning of the lockdown, several services opened up their premium content for free viewing. Since there is hardly any chance in the resumption of OOH advertising in the next few weeks or even months, OOT platforms are mulling over innovative ideas to attract and retain customers. In part two of this series, we explore how these platforms are communicating to its consumers who are stuck at home and hungry for good content.

The BARC-Nielsen report states that VOD viewership on digital is at 3 hours 59 minutes a day in week three of lockdown, with a 12 per cent increase from pre-COVID time. This is being fuelled by movies and original series. Understanding this change, services have shifted their OOH spends to these two mediums.

On the digital front, ZEE5 is focusing on reach and frequency campaigns along with expertise on entertainment and news websites. “News and entertainment are our two key segments on digital and TV now since people’s attention is currently diverted there. We have moved a lot of our OOH display advertising to the digital medium. We have also started a lot of video advertising,” says ZEE5 India SVOD marketing head Reilly Rebello.

Voot Select and Viacom18 youth, music and English entertainment head Ferzad Palia is confident that Voot Select, which launched days before the country went into lockdown, has a huge slate of originals that can easily attract consumers. With the ongoing crisis, the aim is to focus on creating awareness. One of the ways is through chat shows with talented artists from their shows. Palia says that Voot had intended to take this approach even without a lockdown.

According to Palia, the impact lies in how effectively they use the two available mediums - TV and digital - in the crisis as the words need to be maximised.

ALTBalaji, the streaming service from the house of Balaji Telefilms, struck a deal with Zee TV to air some of its family dramas. The duo also has an OTT partnership in place. ALTBalaji marketing, analytics & direct revenue SVP Divya Dixit says that for them, digital marketing comprises all social media handles, platforms and websites that are being accessed by the audience.

“We create backlinks across our media communications to ensure our website witnesses a continuous influx of new and existing users. Influencer marketing is another tool that has worked wonders for us and the shows. When you see actors and vloggers talking about the show and the characters directly with their fanbase, it tends to create a personal bond with the audience and engages them in the journey of their favourite characters and actors,” she says.

She adds that memes have become mainstream and an important and engaging tool for marketers. So, ALTBalaji has incorporated meme marketing as an integral part of its marketing campaigns. “Besides Instagram and Twitter, we also actively use WhatsApp to engage with audiences,” she adds.

Switching over to digital, ZEE5 has started moving press screenings online. Rebello says that they have sent the key information to reviewers and media people along with a link to a 20-30 minutes preview.

MX Player launched eight shows in March and the first week of April for which campaigns were seen across social media to create personalised experiences. “We have digital PR, an increase in spends on mobile marketing, optimising performance marketing to reach out to viewers at every possible touchpoint as well as contextual advertising. More so, since our own platform hosts 75 million daily active users, we have used our own internal inventory to cross-promote across categories. It’s more personalised with focused audience buckets,” MX Player marketing and business partnerships head Abhishek Joshi says.

Hungama Digital Media COO Siddhartha Roy states that on the basis of the double-digit growth in consumption Hungama Play has noticed on the platform since the beginning of March, it will continue channel marketing spends on the digital medium for the next set of original shows that are ready for release.

It is an opportune time for streaming platforms to target existing customers as well as attain new ones to sample the content in the hope that not only viewership but also revenue through advertising and subscription will increase over time.

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