If you thought OTT (over-the-top) players were all about digital, think again. When it comes to advertising, OTT players in the country are taking the traditional route of billboards in a big way just like other brands. This year, OTT majors are expected to spend Rs 350-400 crore on out-of-home (OOH) advertsing alone — almost double the figure last year, point out experts.
While Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar could lead the chart in terms of spends, analysts say players like Zee5, VOOT, ALTBalaji, Eros Now and MX Player will also contribute substantially to the OOH ad pie this year. For example, Zee5 is expected to have an annual budget of Rs 70 crore for OOH, similar to that of Amazon Prime Video in India. A lot of outdoor advertising spend at Hotstar is expected to go into Hotstar Special, which showcases its original series; it has launched OOH campaigns for its webseries Roar of the Lion and Criminal Justice.
Nabendu Bhattacharyya, founder and managing director, Milestone Brandcom, feels spends by OTT players will cross 15% of the OOH industry turnover in 2019. OTT now features among the top three outdoor spenders, after
categories like real estate and automobiles in metro cities. The big push on OOH is also propelled by the limitation on how much OTT players can advertise on GECs, since they are seen as competitors.
“So OTT platforms are left with few other visual media options apart from outdoor. Also, with OOH being
hyperlocal, players are able to focus their target groups precisely in the top metros,” explains Bhattacharya.
Another reason for OOH spends to be higher this year is due to OTT players strengthening their presence in tier-II and tier-III markets, and looking at yearly deals and long-term campaigns. For example, ZEE5 is fast acquiring OOH properties in tier-II markets.
Given the jostle for space, the price of outdoor media is also expected to go up this year by 8-10%, say media experts. According to Rachana Lokhande, co-CEO, Kinetic India, which handles the Netflix OOH account, “Today, OTT players are what consumer electronics or e-commerce were two-three years back in terms of OOH spends. Now, the latter use it only tactically. OTT may take a similar route.”
When it comes to the media mix, 25-50% of media spends of OTT players are now earmarked for OOH. For example at ALTBalaji, outdoor is around 25% of the mediamix. It started outdoor campaigns from October last year and is advertising in tier-I and tier-II cities, along with metros, depending upon the shows. “Outdoor is a large-format, conversation-driving medium. We use it for shows which have a unique narrative,” says Divya Dixit, SVP & head, marketing, ALTBalaji, adding, “However, year-long deals are expensive and we look at outdoor on per-show basis.”
At Zee5, outdoor plays a supplementary role to reach a larger audience base in a short span of time when it is deployed along with TV and digital. Its outdoor campaigns — currently for its original show Poison and movies like Sonchiriya, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Simmba — are based on large-format hoardings. The strategy is to use OTT for original content while tent-poling its movie titles.
The approach so far by OTT players is to plaster the city and change the creatives every 10-15 days. It is centred on landmark sites at prime locations for impact campaigns, rather than penetration, says Atul Shrivastava, CEO, Laqshya Media. While the cost of billboards varies as per the location and city, large-format hoardings, which are typically 40×40 feet, on prime locations like Western Express Highway in Mumbai, can cost around Rs 10-12 lakh per month. Amazon Prime Video, for example, spent around `25 crore on outdoor last year, according to media experts, on promoting its originals such as Comicstaan, Breathe and Mirzapur along with movie premieres like Raaziand 102 Not Out. Breathe used a mix of billboard and impact sites like gantries, cluster branding and experiential marketing, including the setting up of fake crime scenes in malls.
Netflix, on the other hand, reportedly spent Rs 40-45 crore on outdoor last year. Some of it heavily advertised series included Sacred Games and Ghoul. It went beyond large-format hoardings and made use of digital OOH and contextual ads for titles like Little Things, Narcos and Stranger Things. While billboards help as an awareness medium, contextual ads are better suited for engaging consumers, say experts.