OTT & Web-series: The New Form Of Advertising

With the right set of metrics, the impact of OTT is likely to be measured, often leading to a competitive advantage in adspace which will open the road to more innovation

In the current digital economy, brands are looking for ways to enhance consumer experience with interactive content. As per some reports, OTT services have seen a 40-50 per cent increase during the lockdown. Spends on sports and original titles have nearly doubled in production as OTT players aim to retain viewers with live and novel content. The synthesis of this is causing constant change in ad tech. Brands have already been sponsoring web series to target their audience directly for some time now. Remember Love Per Square Foot? And product placements are as old as our favourite series Friends! So what is new in OTT that is causing the market to disrupt?

Customisation Is The Prime Mover

Sentiment alignment and emotive messaging were always key to addressability. While marketers have been historically leveraging existing content to plug-in, promote, sponsor their product and/or service, OTT provides a maiden field for innovation through ad targeting across mediums. Since the onset of the pandemic, the audience of SVOD has spiralled. Consumers are streaming more and more everyday. Every viewer has a unique home page on their preferred platform! This has become possible due to new age cost-effective ad-tech that helps tailor user experience. Programmatic ad serving is leading the way for targeting. Header bidding technology is promising an increased yield for premium inventory. In plain words, OTT devices and platforms are facilitating ad delivery to the consumer in different formats, through different routes. It is in this spectrum that OTT has emerged as one of the champions since the ads consumers ‘had’ to complete watching as unskippable can now be tagged through interactive ad units, catering to individual demand.

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement

Think about the topical positioning and the sync with millennial sentiment in any web series. I bet you will be able to recall at least one placement here and there. So where is the ‘new’? With engagement now being a two-way street, advertisers are thinking about customers strategically. Even regional brands are optimizing viewability based on hyperlocal content aggregated in vernacular languages. Varied media platforms and their features have proliferated a generation of influencers. Infact, anyone today can create a web series and become a brand ambassador for any product, be it beauty, fashion, technology, food or beverage. With the rise in collaborative engagement 3D has now become akin to AR, as black & white did to color. We have collaborative web series’ delivered through Instagram Stories too!

The Promise Of Interactivity

Digitized content can be supplemented with opportunities to create live user-generated commentaries. Audio-video enabled messaging, listening to music on apps and even participating in live contests has all become possible because of OTT. Industry giants are also devising ways to allow consumers to design their own climaxes to shows. Needless to reiterate that digital delivery has facilitated better customization due to availability of consumer data. With improving digital infrastructure and internet accessibility, interactivity is the promised territory where OTT can land.

OTT Is Here To Stay?

OTT is the elemental media service for content curation and distribution, with quick consumer buy-in and immense potential for brand collaboration. The present landscape leads me to deduce that, yes - it is the new form of advertising that is here to stay. With continued investment in technology, OTT platforms will aim to build a robust advertising ecosystem, swiftly. There are a few challenges presently in terms of the cost of premium content production given the pandemic, big cinema competition as, if and when that goes back to normal, quality over quantity, piracy vis-a-vis Intellectual Property Rights and trust in online payment gateways as it penetrates further to subscribers in Tier 2 and 3 cities. But with the right set of metrics, the impact of OTT is likely to be measured, often leading to a competitive advantage in adspace which will open the road to more innovation.

It is an interesting time to be a part of the industry and be privy to the fact that homegrown platforms are giving stiff competition to OTT giants. If common guidelines and standards can be unified for the industry, it wouldn’t be amiss for me to quote one of my favorite movies, Begin Again, that showcased the power of OTT superbly, that I hope ‘it's all coming up roses’ with this disruption.

The author is Monaz Todywalla, CEO, PHD India

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