IBS: Redefining viewing experiences: The next era of connected TV innovations

IBS: Redefining viewing experiences: The next era of connected TV innovations

The fireside chat delved into an in-depth conversation between Anil Wanvari and Nikhil Kumar


Mumbai: The India Brand Summit held on 28 November 2023 at The Lalit Mumbai, convened leaders, marketers, entrepreneurs, and experts to explore current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the dynamic brands and marketing arena.

Indian Television.com group founder CEO & editor-in-chief Anil NM Wanvari in a fireside chat with mediasmart vice president India, SEA and ME Nikhil Kumar

Anil began the conversation by asking, “When speaking to industry, they see that the figure we should look at is 22 billion or 20 billion. Where are we at?”

Nikhil replied “I mean, frankly, we feel the connected TV bases, approximately 18 to 20 million, which approximately means from an Indian context close to 60 million reach. In terms of households, but, the connected TV penetration, the number of activated connected TVs is close to 20 million to 22 million, but it's growing really fast. By the time we have another panel like this, it could be 24, 28  and we all know Jio IPL is unexpecting and you know what it did or even the year so those numbers are growing really fast, double-digit, and pretty fast.”

Anil questioned, “What are the innovations we're seeing in terms of your experiences as far as connected TVs are concerned?”

Nikhil commented, “Interesting things are happening, I mean, what connected TV has done is provide users with a very interesting way to engage with the television. Now, we all come from an era where you know, we were all growing up, we used to watch television together at home,  we found off watching.TV with a family, there used to be a Shaktiman and Ramayana I don't know, choose your big night, right or no, or Baywatch, whichever finds your fancy. But we went to an era of personalized mobiles. And then suddenly everybody had a smart screen. Everybody was doing their own thing and the smart screen and then you found your families disintegrated. And then suddenly we were hit by this whole phenomenon called COVID. Where you didn't have much to do at home, you watched television feed, which was quite depressing, because most of the live feeds were telling you depressing talks about people dying, which was not the most optimistic news you wanted to hear. media feeds led to a decline in what could be repeated and can be watched again, come on, it's like well, months to 24 months to not have anything being shot. I think that is the time when connected TVs really started to rise and the growth of connected TV during that era actually catapulted the overall growth of connected TV. And when there are so many eyeballs, there are so many uses on connected TV, just the way you consume content itself also started to change. As an Indian, as a starting point, I don't even need to talk about innovations. You watching Korean content, is that an innovation? Or is it just the way it's supposed to be? If I asked people how many people have watched Money Heist or Squid games, I'm assuming it'll be at 90 per cent. Again, none of you are Koreans. None of you are Spanish. But while you're watching many eyes, I think that in itself speaks volumes of content consumption in terms of innovation,  I mean, there is all kinds of content available. There are 46 plus OTTs in India alone, That speaks volumes of just innovation, and the kind of content now, in terms of consumption and content innovation within connected TV, you can engage with the content you're watching. Let's say you can decide where  Ranveer Singh has to jump from the hill or Ranveer Singh has to take a row. We also what Netflix did recently, there are many such contents which are being developed by publishers that are letting users be controlled by Black Mirror one of the episodes you can actually control what the end outcome of the episode will be. Imagine the user in being control of the content.”

Anil then went on to ask “What are the new innovations it seems to It appears to be that connected TV has kind of hit a pause mode in terms of content. So where is the innovation coming?”

Nikhil replied, “I think innovations are coming and lots of engagement and interaction. I think your remote today is far more powerful than the remotes that you want it to have. And I think I was interestingly having a panel a couple of days back and what we did was we asked like a young gen Z to come and sit on the panel and really tell us what he wants from connected TV  and the kind of stuff he was saying is I don't want to go all the way and pick up the remote from there, I won't hand gestures so the world is moving towards Weiss automated commands. You can purchase the products that you actually want you can say hey, you don't watch I'm going for a match. Need a Josie now suddenly you can have two TVs, you know tracking you down to a YouTube page or two or probably a website which you can actually view connected you can scan it which it opens up on your mobile the purchase can be made or in developed economy where the purchase itself can be made of the Apple TV because it's connected to your card, your television experience is no longer the same, the innovation is actually coming a lot from the way you consume content. From the way you look at your television as an alternate screen, which it probably was never, it was only one side earlier, television is giving you content you are consuming. That's why it was called the idiot box. Today, the smart TV is called a smart TV because it is smart. You can do a lot of things on your mobile, and your TV, you can connect your mobile to television, in fact, and suddenly you realise that my screens are all the same no matter where I watch it only the experience is better on the television.”

Anil asked “I was watching one of the players Jio actually watching India vs. Australia. And there's a QR code, which tells me you know, I have to go and that's where we are at QR codes. When the ad is running, why hasn't there been much more progress?”

Nikhil shared “I think I'm a firm believer that everything doesn't change. India was not built in a day, Rome was not built in a day either. And I think, at the cusp of where our ecosystem is, India has got over 800 internet users, we are 1.2 billion countries, I mean, things are gonna 20 million looks nothing when you talk about some statistics on the right. But look at the growth of it. Now Jio entering, the whole foray of connected televisions, suddenly changing the ballgame. It's it's gonna grow really fast. There's a very contentious debate on whether you should be watching it on Star Sports or Jio, there's a serious debate about where you should be watching it now.

if you look at how things are changing QR codes, QR codes are probably a starting point. It's getting the users a taste of what they can do with their television. Now, at the end of the day, if I get my user remote and tell him that you can buy a jersey of his favorite IPL team, probably he'll get really confused. And it's not just the consumer, I can start with the marketer. I mean, the marketer is questioning, how am I getting clicks from a connected television, they are really surprised by calling it fraudulent. But if you look at world economies like us, close to 50 to 60 per cent of the business is performance advertising on connected television. Now I would say connected TV and performance, how is it even met? Yeah, it is a screen. And you can use your remote to do a lot of things, download apps, engage with apps within apps, and do so many more things gaming itself is an ecosystem of connected TV where there's an entire universe, you can put ads within games being played on cricket, TV connect with users across the globe purchase stuff from a store within that game, which have been delivered to your home, the world is moving really fast. India is taking its early stages of you know the revolution, which is connected to the TV, and if you see how we also started like three years back, vs where we are today, you can see the number of players talking like television, you can see the number of forums talking connected television, you can see the number of players with a connected television ecosystem, whether it's OEMs, whether it's smart tech companies, whether it's publishers, they're all out there it's something that's going to grow really fast.”:

Anil further asked “What are the challenges that are in their place currently? And how do we get over them? And how do we get a connected TV viewing experience? How do we drive footfalls to stores even more? What is needed to get that to happen?”

Nikhil commented “I think I sort of tend to agree and disagree that are we moving fast. I mean, we're growing it 30 to 40 per cent quarter over quarter, I think that's as good a growth. That's what smart TV would actually look at. If you look at the factors, India is one of the most penetrated countries when it comes to the internet, we have got the cheapest package in terms of data per GB, if you look at any TV that is produced today is smart. Technically, I don't remember the last time somebody was making a box TV. Just the accessibility but accessibility part of getting those smart TVs to your homes is well penetrated. It's not like a tier one tier two phenomenon if you put these factors together, connected TVs only to grow. So technically, most people aren't using the connected TV, but they probably don't call it a connected TV the way we are calling it.

If survive two years. And if you're employed and you still have a job, I'm sure you figure out what Wi-Fi is. And that's the factor that I think we are negating a lot how did CTV become so important? Why are why is IPL on Jio why, what's going on? Why are the set-top boxes streaming set-top boxes anymore? These are all factors which are determined by what's happened in the last three to four years. Some controllable factors, and noncontrollable factors like who doesn't have Wi-Fi now today Wi-Fi is not a cost. You all have Wi-Fi most people don't have Wi-Fi at home even in the remotest villages you would look at if they don't have Wi-Fi India's gonna be fine If you can't read still, as a 5g country, you have well penetrated 5g ecosystems within the ecosystem. And that can very well actually support any kind of content that you want to watch on a connected TV.”

Anil asked further” What are the innovative ad formats, that are coming in, not just in India, but globally, which which can be really put to use in India going forward? And which marketers can look forward to?”

Nikhil replied “I think in terms of innovative ad formats, there are many things happening, I think. Just the fact that you can engage with the ad, just the fact that you can talk to your ad, just the fact that he can tell you the ad that I don't want to see you. And itself is I think new in terms of innovation, when it comes to the large screen television, I think a lot of the comparative start to come with mobile, because there's so much happening on mobile, but we need to understand the screens are different. They're both digital, but just the way you consume anything, even as an ad on a large screen television versus where you are in itself is like ten steps ahead,  We come from an era where it used to be pushed down our throat, we could change channels, but we couldn't escape an ad till the body had to step in says only 15 minutes of ad within one hour. Still, you can't escape ads to now you deciding what ad comes to you? Can you engage with the ad? Can the ad really translate into you making a purchase? In fact, the innovation is not coming from just advertising innovation is also coming from ads transforming into a metric because any advertising is not done for the purpose of making a great ad, I as a marketer never made ads, because I loved making ads.

I think most marketers have made ads for the share purpose of ROIs. As for ad spend, she would go back and say what's the business? Where is the needle moving at. And connected TV today is able to serve that metric not as a post-mortem. So you're not looking at the share of investments in advertising on television and looking at your market shares next month. With connected television, you can look at your investments in television in terms of TV ads being served in large screen format, which we love the TV ad and tracking it down to a metric right in terms of purchase website,  brand score search indexes on a real-time basis. Now from a marketing scenario, imagine that this is a best-case scenario because technically you're not looking at a post-mortem which happens next month after your spending has been done because the body is lying there whether it was good or bad. I mean, you're just finding out later with connected television or advertising and finding out real-time. you can down the funnel all the way to purchase remarketed re-retention reordered referred to my family. Imagine suddenly you have a metric which is the best-looking triangle, obviously upside down and you're saying I showed an ad to a user. This guy engages with the ad. He filled out a form for a driving test driving a BMW. The BMW came to his house. It took him free he has gotten converted from the ad that he saw on television he is actually a purchaser of the BMW etc best case scenario.”

Anil asked “I wish for a seamless content experience—starting a show on my connected TV, continuing in my Wi-Fi-connected car, then on my phone in the elevator, and finally, back on my office TV. Why isn't this integration more widespread across platforms?”

Nikhil commented on this “That's already here, glad you brought it up, I think while content syndication needs to happen, I think from an ad tech lens from an advertising lens, this technology already is out there. I think I was talking to my earlier panelists that eventually, you want to use the reach the user at multiple levels, right, you want to reach them on their pistol on a phone screen, while they're entering the left exactly like you said, you want to reach them and they are driving across the busy Bandra ceiling and a fancy holding. You want to reach them and reach home and switch on their television and watch their content of, I don't know Annapurna whatever they want to watch a cricket match on the connected television. And eventually, it was sleeping at night, looking at the mobile going down to sleep now you want the user to see your ad in all these locations. But if you choose to be operating at multiple levels, with multiple partners doing multiple things, and at a certain frequency, which you believe is good, what are you creating? Are you making a little series ad 12 times 14 times where he's saying, Why are these guys spending so much on me like, or could you create an environment where the multiscreen touch points are engaging with each other? We know this is the same. We need to catch him on maybe 12 times, no, maybe nine times or six times across the screen. So he suddenly realises Oh, yeah, I love the ad man. I'm seeing it everywhere. It's not fatiguing me.”

Anil asked further “Hotstar has been doing they had maximum mode, and vertical mode during the Cricket World Cup this year. That calls for content to be reimagined, it does not score for the app to be reminded. “

Nikhil shared his opinion “Absolutely. You know, I think there the advertisers have the power to do it. Now. You know, it's we live in a world today where ads can be shot on iPhone movies, it can be made on an iPhone. So we have evolved from an era where you shot an ad spent a bomb, and then you couldn't change your advertising strategy or tank it. Now India has one that's a sentiment and if your ad is coming during that sentiment, it will have a positive. Hopefully also be repercussions. India is lost. There is a certain sentiment on a Sunday, and you are bombarding the user with a very different happy ad of India very much. I don't know what emotional outcome it could lead to.”