VOOT's Akash Banerji hints at introduction of interactive content around fiction programming

Content-tech is also the next wave of growth for brands.


MUMBAI: With a rich line-up of content and advanced solution for advertisers, Viacom18’s OTT arm, VOOT, has pledged to reach 100 million monthly active users within the fiscal year on its third anniversary. The advertising-based video on-demand (AVOD) platform is now looking at the introduction of a freemium model in the second half of the year, VOOT Kids, which is at the beta testing stage, further expansion of international business followed by an entry in the UK. More interestingly, the streaming platform may introduce interactive opportunities for consumers around fiction content.

“I think that’s where a huge unlocking of value is going to happen. Just imagine if a drama show is running, you can decide what you want the protagonist of the drama show to do, what choice he or she should make which could be about the relationships, which could be at a certain inflexion point in the storyline and you act on it. Either you do what consumers are looking for or you do something different to surprise them. This is one of the things that we have been discussing and you will see something interesting coming up,” VOOT AVOD business head Akash Banerji commented when asked if the platform has any plan to introduce interactive content around fiction programming.

While the platform had already ventured into the branded content opportunities, it is now introducing VOOT Studios, a business performance-oriented content-tech solution for advertisers. Explaining the rationale behind the move, Banerji pointed out key problems for advertisers. According to him, although brands started creating an interesting array of short-form content they did not necessarily drive great business value or ROI. Brands failed to realise sometimes creating content alone cannot drive the conversation and engagement unless more pieces of data and tech are added to it.

Banerji said that the second big barrier is the inability to initiate dialogue with content writers, data scientists, tech people, agencies, etc. for brand building and, more importantly, how to bring all of that together.

“We are a digital-first brand and we have this huge roster of maverick rich insights and deep consumer understanding of more than 1000 plus audience segments. We will not just make stories for VOOT, we will integrate data and tech and give out solutions which are bespoke and will help solve a brand’s specific need. That has actually led to the birth of VOOT Studio. Essentially, we have just institutionalised this entire solution from our side,” he added.

He also noted that the platform gets all kind of large advertisers including CPGs, e-commerce brands, fashion brands, consumer durables on board. Banerji pointed out that the brands don’t have the luxury anymore to think of spending on TV alone as everyone knows the next wave of audience growth and audience time spent is happening on digital. While a CPG brand advertising on digital would have raised eyebrows earlier, brands today are thinking differently.

Digital brands today turn to OTT for better ROI while non-digital brands come for branding purposes.

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