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Why are ad agencies turning to branded OTT content?

India is home to over 500 million (50.3 crore) OTT consumers, though the number of paid subscriptions may be as high as 5 crore, an EY report said recently. According to market estimates, these platforms also fetch more than Rs 5,000 crore annually. This explains why brands are exploring new ways to interact with consumers, especially through the production of branded content on video subscription platforms.

Branded content is produced or paid for by advertiser brands. Unlike ads that talk about the brands USP, this content engages the target audience through emotional storytelling with a casual reference or logo placement in the story.

An increase in this content has now led top advertising agencies to exploit the potential of this form and are likely to diversify their portfolio. This transition from the agencies’ core competency of creating 15-30-60 backers to producing full-fledged series, talk shows, and movies is an interesting one.

Example this. Lintas C:EX Entertainment, the content arm of MullenLowe Lintas Group, is developing a premium unscripted series with cricketing legend, commentator and coach Ravi Shastri. This will mark MullenLowe Lintas Group’s debut in branded content creation. The series is designed to appeal to a wide audience that goes beyond cricket fans and spans all gender and age segments.

According to Virat Tandon, Group CEO, Mullen Lowe Lintas, “This large-scale unscripted premium series conceptualized by our team will not only feature Ravi in ​​a new avatar, but will also disrupt existing format codes and set a new benchmark in its genre. .”

Meanwhile, Havas Media Group India recently launched its specialist content division – Havas Content. “Our goal is to identify and create relevant content across all platforms, which will foster a better connection with consumers. Not just TV, OTT, digital and social space, we also aim to leverage the metaverse,” says Uday Mohan, President and Chief Customer Officer, Havas Media Group India.

Mediabrands through its unit – Content Studio – also creates different forms of content which can be categorized as original, branded, campaign, performance and experiences content.

From ‘Hum Log’ and ‘Ramayana’ in the 80s to ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Panchayat’ today, Indian audiences have noticed a seismic shift in terms of content. With impact reaching various layers of society, brand marketers are also leveraging trending OTT content to drive engagement on digital media.

Some agencies were early adopters of the trend. For example, Foxymoron launched video content solutions agency “The Rabbit Hole” in 2015. Glitch also launched a specialized new age content division called Flux in 2018.

The best example of branded content was Coke Studio, which launched on MTV in partnership with Coca Cola. Huge success in India and Pakistan, Coke Studio is now going global.

Authentic and Meaningful

“Content is an authentic way for brands to relate to the world. It’s not advertising, it’s compelling brand stories. The purpose/philosophy of the brand is communicated in a creative and engaging way,” says Dhruv Jha, Co-Head, Mediabrands Content Studio, India.

“We have great examples of work in films like 5B and Dear Santa around the world, The Punishing Signal and The Plum Shelters more recently in India. This is the way to go as audiences become more real and relate better to real stories,” says Jha.

According to industry observers, branded content offers advertisers a broad and powerful canvas to engage with young audiences who view ads as intrusive and increasingly use ad blockers on digital platforms. They prefer content that entertains, enriches and inspires. Brands are now identifying their specific audiences and preferences.

As for Uday Mohan, “Havas’ proprietary Significant Brands (MB) study provides us with category-specific content pillars such as Entertain, Educate, Inspire, Help. Our goal is to leverage this MB tool to identify and create relevant content across all platforms, which will foster a better connection with consumers through meaningful media experiences.

Brands that move

EdTech brand Unacademy took the opportunity to sponsor the web series “Kota Factory” which revolves around the lives of IIT aspirants in the Indian coaching center of Kota in Rajasthan. The brand is also associated with properties such as IPL’s “Kya Hum Live Hai” show.

Other brands include Ola Cabs, which was the title sponsor of “Permanent Roommates” on TVF, condom brand KamaSutra partnered with OTT channel Frogs Lehren’s Virgin Woman Diaries (season 2), Lakme linked to Bang Baaja Baaraat and Tanishq Ladies Room, and Flipkart has formed an association with the Aam Aadmi family. Sugarfree and Honda Cars have also created web series The Sweet Breakup and Honda Jazz.

“Content more powerful than ads”

A 2019 study by The Brandgym points out that 84% of internet users ignore ads when watching content on mobile phones. They watch a 15-second ad for just 5.5 seconds and a 30-second ad for just 7.4 seconds, according to the study.

On the other hand, branded content improves recall by more than 59% compared to digital ads and increases the chances that consumers will explore brands by 14% after a branded content impression, according to a 2016 report by Forbes. .

Market size

Over the next five years, premium branded content globally is set to become a $20 billion opportunity for publishers, wrote Greg Bella, vice president, technology provider marketing for branded content, Polar, in a blog.

The size of the branded content market in India is currently unclear as surveys place all video content in a single category with no branded content bifurcations, says Advait Gupt, co-founder and CEO from Kulfi Collective, which started out as a branded content company. Supari Studio’ in 2012.

“Since big agencies have ventured into this space, that means the market is quite large. All I can say is that it’s a big part of the video market now,” remarked Gupt.

Brands spend 5-15% of their promotional budget on branded content, he added.

Agency heads also point out that, as they lose key creative leaders to the entertainment and film industry, offering a content platform is a way to retain talent and open up a source of income.

Read more news on (Internet Advertising India, Internet Advertising, Advertising India, Digital Advertising India, Media Advertising India)

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