By Abhinav Tyagi
In 2019, Indian advertisers spent more than 37% of their total advertising expenditure on Linear TV, as per Statista Report. For every crore that entered the Indian advertising industry in 2019, a third of it was spent to air an ad spot while you were watching your favourite show and enjoying your meal. But if you’re among the 1.6 million Indians who reportedly stopped buying direct-to-home (DTH) connections from 2022 onwards, you probably missed it.
This has been the theme for most marketing and advertising teams in 2022 – dealing with a drop in TV viewership and trying to make sense of the ‘OTT Revolution’. That being said, the number of DTH subscribers was still a whopping 66.92 million in the quarter ending March 31, 2022. So, should Indian advertisers still be worried?
Should Indian advertisers be worried?
This entirely depends on who the target consumer is. A CII-BCG report on OTT consumption in India, reveals that India had 70-80 million paid subscribers of over-the-top (OTT) platforms at the end of 2021, up from 14 million in 2018 and just 0.5 million in 2014-15. Now it doesn’t take a thorough analysis from here on, to say that these 70-80 million paid subscribers would also account for a significant chunk of the highest-spending Indian consumers.
So, if you’re looking to target up to the top 30 percentile of the Indian populace based on purchasing power, expect a significant chunk of your consumers to be ‘light’ linear TV viewers or avid users of OTT platforms. While these consumers are expected to be glued to their TV devices, the chances of advertisers reaching them with ads on linear TV, are diminishing by the minute.
So what exactly is CTV, and how can it be leveraged?
A connected TV (CTV) is a device that connects to—or is embedded in—a television to support video content streaming. Different types of CTVs include Xbox, PlayStation, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Smart TVs and more.
The question is, how do Indian advertisers find a way for their brand to show up where their consumer is spending the most time?
Find the right mix of OTTs to target on CTV
Adding CTV inventories to your media mix is bound to add incremental reach to your deployment plans. But the challenge is that the leading eight OTT apps in India make up for 40%+ adoption. To top that, about 65% of the subscribers are registered users of more than one OTT app. So, how do you find the right OTT platforms to target consumers?
Talk to them both – the OTT platforms and your consumers – to understand where viewers are spending maximum time.
Another interesting way to target the right consumer is to find demand-side platforms (DSPs) to specifically target an audience segment across multiple platforms. Think of it as, once you know who your consumer is it doesn’t matter where you reach them, across the top eight OTTs, and even YouTube, as long as you’re able to reach them.
Go beyond OTTs
According to a study, more than 20 million people in India streamed YouTube on their TV screens in May 2022, compare this with the 12-14 million monthly active user base that’s regularly consuming content on CTVs, chances are that the same set of users are also likely using the YouTube app on their Smart TVs, Amazon Firesticks, Apple TVs and more. But, this is worth testing. For instance, at Urban Company, we found that 40% of the users we reached by buying ad units on two of the eight leading OTT players, were not consuming YouTube, in the period that we ran this test.
Strike programmatic guaranteed deals with the OTT players that you wish to target, and execute the next campaign on your own DSP, with the right measurement setup in place. Check the incremental reach accrued by your campaign, from each channel.
Not to forget, the static or slightly animated ad units that have started appearing on the home screen of Amazon Firestick-enabled TVs – or YouTube masthead inventory. If incremental reach beyond linear TV is the goal, these seemingly expensive but high-visibility properties can add value.
Find the right tentpole event to break the paywall
India has close to 500 million OTT viewers, out of which 70-80 million have paid subscriptions, which translates to 120 -140 million people (assuming 2 people share a subscription in every household). This means as an advertiser, you are highly likely to miss out on reaching the top one to five percent of consumers as close to 25% of all OTT viewers are paying to not see advertisements
How to find ad inventory that allows them to break this paywall? The answer lies in live events: cricket, live TV viewing on OTT, award shows and live reality content on OTTs. While the inventory is expensive, especially on CTV, it comes with a very high chance of a significant share of your consumers being intently glued to the screen when your ad unit shows up.
Think longer term – Integrate your brand or product with content
The idea is, how can your brand or product be placed in the plot of the featured content, seamlessly enough for your consumer to not be bothered by yet another ad from you? Advertisers and marketers, therefore, are tasked with not just engaging with the best OTT platforms to evaluate the effectiveness and authenticity of their ad units but keeping a close watch on content releases across these platforms.
This requires a long-term approach and a strong risk appetite. True, that only a small portion of eyeballs caught by the piece of content, will end up being glued to a TV screen – and the approach goes beyond a pure play CTV strategy, but the quality of reach that can be built with such an approach, is likely to triumph anything that advertising dollars can buy.
The author is the senior vice president – marketing at Urban Company