By Amit Gheji
OTT marketing had been growing gradually until the pandemic happened and then it burgeoned. Many brands were cognizant of the OTT space but did not consider it for themselves. With the large viewership that OTT platforms have amassed, they are now being seen by brands as fertile grounds to position themselves and generate awareness and familiarity.
The utilisation of the OTT space by brands is more than just about staying up-to-date. On OTT, brands can either advertise or integrate themselves into popular content. While there are some platforms that do not permit advertisements, others allow it to be shown to those who consume free content parts. Leveraging the age-old concept of embedded marketing, brands have also positioned themselves in films or series whose viewership is either huge or matches their target audience.
However, brands have more reasons to make the shift to OTT other than its enormous viewership. There are some clear advantages to it.
Almost everyone is on OTT
OTT platforms provide a platter full of subscription plans. In it, there’s something for everybody. Content for those who can only watch on their mobiles or their smart TVs, content for those who can watch while travelling or at home, for those who watch with family or go solo, for those who watch on own subscription versus a friend’s borrowed one and the list goes on. The diversity of content is also immense. Such a broad range ensures brands that their target group not only exists within the OTT space but can also be reached by targeting films, series, or shows that they are most likely to watch and engage with.
OTT is everywhere
Content travels far and wide on OTT. Marketing on OTT transcends the urban-rural divide. Due to wider access to the internet, smartphones, and consequently to OTT, brands can reach even those customers who could not be targeted previously due to the lack of access to cinema halls and television sets.
If not ads, then what?
Most of us skip, mute, or simply ignore advertisements. To add value to their platforms and rid customers of the annoyance caused by ads, OTT outlets provide ad-free content to paid subscribers. Although a boon for viewers, it is a bane for brands. So, how can brands utilise the OTT space in such a situation? The answer lies in embedded marketing in OTT spaces.
Embedded marketing seamlessly assimilates a brand into content that generates awareness for it without disrupting the viewing experience. It integrates the brand naturally within the plot and creates a positive association with it by aligning it to the characters, themes, or settings of the film, series, or show.
Since 1927 when a chocolate bar was featured in a silent film, embedded marketing or what is also known as product placement has been on the rise. Ever since the world made its way towards OTT, brands have followed with techniques new and old.
Content on OTT travels freely across borders, and so do brands associating themselves with it. If a modest Dalgona candy, ubiquitous on the streets of South Korea but unknown to the rest of the world, can rise to global fame, due to a series that was enjoyed worldwide, imagine the impact it can have on a brand.
The reach of OTT is massive but also specific. Brands understand that though the content is globally available, it may or may not be watched by everyone. Understanding their customers’ behavioural and consumption patterns helps brands target the right kind of content to reach their audience. And, if they’re in luck, global fame awaits them. After all, the internet has the ability to take a brand from obscurity to popularity in no time.
Marketing on OTT, like all other avenues, can be tricky. Brands always have to be wary of problematic associations or adding to the ad-fatigue. Even in embedding, brands should ensure that the incorporation is relevant and doesn’t strike to the viewer as odd or out of place.
Since people have become comfortable with enjoying content of their preference from the luxury of their homes or wherever they are, the way for OTT marketing is only upward from here. The scope for innovative methods of marketing in the OTT space is also huge if only one is willing to try.
The author is head marketing of Gulf Oil India. Views expressed are personal.