Between OTT platforms and social media channels, advertisers are increasingly spoilt for choice when it comes to digital advertising. But the former is quietly emerging as the preferred medium for some. Consider this: FMCG major Patanjali went off YouTube in January this year and is now present on OTT platforms with a focus on sports properties. The company has a 'video-only' approach to digital. \u201cAround 70% of our digital video spends are on Hotstar and the rest on SonyLIV, with a presence only on sports properties. We want to catch sports enthusiasts and youngsters who are health conscious,\u201d says Avinash Kumar, AVP, marketing, Patanjali Ayurved. The company is promoting its health and fitness products on OTT platforms with a focus on properties such as IPL and FIFA World Cup to target the youth. Currently, 10% of its marketing budget is spent on digital. \u201cOTT is becoming mainstream for most advertisers, much like television. Even within digital, we find that money is now flowing more into OTT as compared to social platforms,\u201d says Uday Sodhi, executive vice-president and head, digital business, SPN. \u201cOTT is able to provide reach, viewability, brand safety and impact.\u201d While YouTube and Facebook still account for 60-70% of total online video consumption in India \u2014 YouTube being the largest with 225 million subscribers \u2014 the advertising revenue on OTT is expected to increase at a CAGR of 40% for the next five years to reach `9,300 crore in FY23 (source: KPMG). With the OTT landscape buzzing with competition and each player looking to carve a niche for itself, the growing subscriber base also means increased advertiser interest in the medium. Given the reach of high impact properties like IPL which assure an engaged audience and a brand-safe environment, the rate per impression is higher on OTT platforms. According to a KPMG report, the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rates on OTT platforms could go up to 1.5-2 times that of YouTube. In fact, the entertainment inventory on OTT typically trades at a CPM of Rs 200-400 depending on targeting, says Neena Dasgupta, CEO and director, Zirca Digital Solutions. The premium is 20-30% higher for impact properties. Sports inventory on IPL trades at a CPM of Rs 700-800; however, India bilateral and ICC tournaments trade at a CPM of Rs 400-500. Other sports such as kabaddi and hockey typically trade at a CPM of Rs 350-400. Soccer is largely behind a paywall, but for properties that are monetised, the CPM is Rs 600-700. \u201cYouTube doesn't have premium content like OTT players. It largely has Bollywood, Tollywood and social humour. Its reservation CPM is in the range of Rs 200-350, depending on targeting. Biddable CPMs are on the lower side of approximately Rs 130-180 CPM, because the algorithm is set for optimising on completed views,\u201d adds Dasgupta. What about programmatic buying on OTT which currently stands at around 10%? \u201cAs of now, a majority of media buys on OTT is led by content. While advertisers still buy ROS (run-of-site) inventory, a majority is about popular shows. The share of sponsorships is about 60%,\u201d says Shamsuddin Jasani, group MD, Isobar, south Asia. However, this does not mean YouTube and Facebook inventories come at a cheaper price. Recently, their ad rates were increased. \u201cFacebook ad rates have doubled with the fresh newsfeed algorithm. Earlier, the number of ads per session was eight; now, it is four. Therefore, CPM has increased,\u201d Jasani says. The YouTube masthead price is slated to increase to Rs 1.4 crore per day from January 2019. But it still has takers. \u201cFrom a CPM point of view, the YouTube masthead is the cheapest option available. A marketer can cross one billion impressions in a day,\u201d says Sahil Shah, VP, operations and media (west and south), WATConsult. The reason to invest in OTT then, Shah says, is brand-safety, higher ad completion rates and cost per effective reach for the brand\u2019s TG. \u201cOTT\u2019s on-target performance is more accurate and has an edge over YouTube,\u201d he adds. Facebook has the streaming rights for matches such as LaLiga and YouTube is also building a premium service. The fight for premium content, and hence premium ad dollars, is only going to get tougher.