Content Hub 2021: Growing relevance of language personalisation in OTT advertising

The next growth of OTT will come from regional content, says brands.


Mumbai: The last one and a half years have escalated the pervasiveness of the OTTs and streaming platforms in our lives like never before. Not wanting to lose out on their share of the OTT marketing pie, brands have begun exploring promotions and advertisements on these channels.

With regional content being a major chunk of the consumer viewership on the OTT platforms, there is a growing conversation around advertising too being tuned towards regional to resonate more with their audiences. Representatives from some leading brands came together to discuss the growing relevance of this regional targeting in OTT advertising at the fifth edition of the Content Hub 2021- ‘TV, Film, Digital Video, and Beyond’ which was organised virtually by IndianTelevision.com from 28-30 July.

The panel consisted of representatives from Lenskart, Myntra, DABUR, ESSENCE and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL). The discussion was moderated by IndianTelevision’s founder, CEO & editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, who began the session by seeking the panellists’ views on how brands are looking at the OTT ecosystem as a communication tool with their customers.

“The platform (OTT) represents the best of both worlds,” remarked ESSENCE India, managing director, Sonali Malaviya, “It provides the ‘comfort & love of Television’ and the possibility of ‘an ad-free background’, which is what consumers have been wanting to have, since time immemorial. As an advertiser, it gives you the flexibility, the dynamism and the targeting dexterity which we have always wished for in TV. So definitely OTT platforms are here to stay.”

As the OTT boom revolutionised the media industry, it also opened new avenues for advertisers who had otherwise been reviewing their ad spends on certain genres. One such example has been Lenkskart, which moved out of advertising on English genre, along with the premium audience which gradually moved to OTT.

However, the lack of data measurability remains a concern, pointed out Lenskart, brand media head, Anupam Tripathi. “The only worrying factor is that little black-box of information about viewership, targets in terms of absolute numbers that doesn’t pass on via the OTT to the marketers. Especially during the streaming of live sports,” said Tripathi.

While the OTTs have evolved in terms of content and consumer reach, the lack of adequate data measurement and the ability to compare that data with other platforms has proved to be an obstacle for advertisers looking to invest in OTT, according to the panellists. But they also contended that, since these are early days for digital platforms, it may take some time before the new technologies and data measurement systems are devised and made available for advertisers and brands.

One of the many things that may be challenging for OTT is the high level of expectations that advertisers may have from it. Nevertheless, there’s one area that sets the OTTs apart as a marketing medium, is the regional reach, and the ability to target specific audiences through vernacular content.

“From an OTT stand point, that’s where the next level of growth is going to come from,” highlighted Malaviya. “And, this is also what makes ‘measurability’ all the more critical- for brands to be able to figure out the scope of the language content, and for marketers to know where they are putting their money is the most optimal use of it.”

Regional content is drawing advertisers’ interest across all segments. A major portion of the ad-spends of FMCG brands is also shifting towards regional, highlighted Dabur, head of media, Rajiv Dubey. The brand has also been creating regional marketing teams, producing local content & ads, getting local influencers, getting closer to the ground by creating custom made campaigns for that market.

“This goes hand in hand with regional content on OTTs,” he added. “But, OTTs have to give people options to watch original content in their language. Then it becomes a level playing field. Right now the content is only skewed towards English & Hindi content. So there's a huge place to grow over there. Though, reaching people behind the paywall will be a challenge.”

Myntra vice president & head of marketing, Achint Setia concurred. “The next big growth for OTT will come from regional content and advertisers would want to be part of this journey. However, the expectations from OTTs are higher. Almost one-third of our money is deployed in sharp regional campaigns today, so I think it’s just going to get bigger as we see success in this. It’s bound to happen- if anybody has to scale in this country you just cannot not go regional,” said Setia. “It’s an industry which we all have to support because in the future, it will provide solutions which do not exist today.”

While it took television several decades to understand the power of regional, digital platforms are plunging into vernacular content within a few years of their debut. “Regional is a dominant force in OTT content because of the sheer numbers of people consuming it. It’s just that the expectations from OTTs are also higher, in terms of addressability. The responsibility is higher,” said Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), Revenue, COO, Rajiv Bakshi.

The OTT platform launched three years ago has already expanded into 11 languages, including Hindi, Bhojpuri, Tamil and Telugu. It has been leading the way in regional content with the release of several original series in local languages, including Nanna Koochi (Telugu), Utsaha Ithihasam (Malayalam), Date with Saie (Marathi) and What’s up Velakkari (Tamil).

“I don’t think any medium can invest or prepare for the future, as best as OTT,” added Bakshi, giving a sneak peek into the platform’s latest solution for brands and advertisers, which he said will differentiate why OTT is an important medium for tomorrow’s media planning. “So, when you are watching any piece of content, you can pause and see the jhumkas (or any other item), and when you press on it, you can see the price, colors, details etc and if interested, you can go to the platform and buy it. This is the new solution we are offering to our advertisers. So, at any point viewers can pause and visit the platform to purchase an item. We have the solution, now rest depends on our partnership with the client as to how to develop it so as to ensure it doesn’t affect the overall consumer experience. These are the kind of solutions we are investing in.”

Summing up the discussion, Wanvari also drew attention towards the lower cost of advertising on digital and OTT, compared to TV. “Digital and OTT channels are offering reach at a fraction of the cost that print and TV offer, and that makes a case for allowing this new medium to develop and grow similarly too with adequate support. At the end of the day, for anyone using regional languages to target specific audiences, first movers would always stand to benefit from the platform as the medium grows because one builds a relationship early on,” he added.

The three-day summit organised from 28-30 July, 2021 concluded on Friday. It was co-presented by IN10 Media Network and ZEE5, and co-powered by Applause Entertainment and Tipping Point, the digital content unit of Viacom18 Studios. PTC Network was the supporting partner.

Centred on the theme – ‘The New Dynamic’, the three-day event witnessed insightful sessions with industry stakeholders deliberating on how the new forces are transforming the way content is created and stories are told. It also delved into the impact of these changes on the business models for the world of films, TV and OTT.

For more details, visit: https://www.thecontenthub.in/

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