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Viacom18's Gourav Rakshit on Colors Telugu digital-first launch, advertiser strategy, digital measurement

The channel will launch on VOOT first on 23 September.

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MUMBAI: Viacom18 is taking two bulls by the horn. Not only has it targeted the regional market but is doing so in a digital-first manner. Colors Telugu is soon to be launched on VOOT, Viaom18’s over the top platform.

The new language play of VOOT is set to go live on 23 September targeting a market which has the highest affinity for native language. While VOOT has always been focusing on the philosophy that regional is the new national, Viacom18 Digital Ventures COO Gourav Rakshit said the big shift is happening as advertisers also want to speak locally now.

“As we don’t have a network channel, the marketing has to be a lot nearer to the consumers. So, the marketing has to be more local because the consumer has to feel this is a part of us. A slight change will be in the mix up we would normally do. We will also use conventional television, distribution, Voot to popularlise the content. But I think it’s important to be in and around the ecosystem there itself in Hyderabad. The other thing is we are launching a marquee show Feet Up with the Stars which is a very big property,” Rakshit commented on the marketing strategy.

He also noted that the network is aware of what works in the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana market as the Telugu speaking audience watched Hindi content also which made the platform realise the need for Telugu content. Hence, the marketing strategy is more tilted to demonstrate presence, relevance and in the market rather than a pure acquisition.

In comparison to previous times when players wouldn’t risk original content, the scenario today is different. Today, even advertisers speak in regional languages since running Hindi ads are a misfit.

“The brand voice changes when they talk in regional languages. When you are trying to build credibility or enter the market, sometimes it’s more effective to do with regional creative than national. You can’t do that on a Hindi-based content,” Rakshit commented.

While VOOT is planning a subscription-based service, it is expected the platform will predominantly focus on advertising in India. As there are other advertising-based video-on-demand platforms that are also chasing for the advertising pie, Rakshit thinks the connection to relevant audience and content will help them differ.

“We have a significant skew towards youth and female audiences. There are enough advertisers, especially in consumer’s products etc., who will really like our audience. It is our content that attracts viewers and hence, advertisers,” he added.

Speaking on the digital measurement system, Rakshit agreed that it was important and that many people are trying to solve the problem. The benefit here is that every time spent counts, which isn’t the case in the TV industry.

“The TV industry is completely reliant on third party data. That’s why they had to give birth to that. Hotstar knows its own number. YouTube as well and I know Voot’s. So, we are not reliant on the third party. As a result, we are not forced to collaborate. Whether it will come or not, there will be a measurement system. The question is how credible they will be if the media industry will support those findings that are up to chance. It is not clear to me when it will be resolved,” he added.

The new leader on the board of Viacom18’s digital arm joined the platform in May who was earlier serving as the president and CEO of People Group that owns and operates Shaadi.com. Although he is in the internet ecosystem for a very long time, from the content side the two worlds are very different. According to him, the long gestation period of content is really different in his new venture.

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