From TV to OTT, brands need to rethink their approach to content


The Indian #MeToo campaign has landed a huge blow to the film and digital media fraternity with companies dissolving, CEOs and founders stepping down, and brands shying away from advertising on various OTT platforms. This is the time to address the elephant in the room – content.

In today’s day and age, we media agencies, channels and digital platforms need to understand that content is king, and it is imperative to not be insensitive, sexist, racist or offensive. Mocking a particular gender or an archetypical character can no longer be considered comedy. It’s time we took the responsibility of being “media,” and thoroughly think about what we are saying and how we are saying it. So, what are the things that one should keep in mind while creating content and planning a brand’s campaign?

In the process of shifting focus from television to digital, all brands and media planners looked at the digital space from the myopic viewpoint of television planning. They applied the rules of the ‘reach objective’, but forgot the content rules of no abusive language, etc. Everyone was only after reach numbers, and no one actually sat to analyse how these numbers were achieved. The entire plan was based on what is the ROI and cost per reach. While television numbers are extrapolated since they are measured on the basis of a sample size, digital numbers are actual numbers. This was completely overlooked. Also, in most organisations the digital marketing and brand teams are separate, competing for the same marketing budget. The onus of the impact a brand had was on the creative agency, and the medium of advertisement had no relevance.

The survival matrix of any OTT platform was the brand’s digital media spend, which is lesser than their television spend but the reach objectives had to be met. It is expensive to garner reach in the digital medium with high cost per reach, and a constant battle for viewer retention and subscribers. This put content provider in a catch-22 situation. They had to have the 1 million views’ mark to attract sponsors. How do you reach that mark without spending the money, and keeping the business bottom line intact?

 Content is King

Typically, in the digital world, there were no rules and no TRAI. The easiest way to garner reach is thoughtless with borderline bullying comedy or else show of skin. Coming from a more traditional medium like television, I was surprised to see how big brands launched their OTT platforms on the back of overtly sexualised content. Yes, the amazing reach numbers on the launch date were superb, but how did these brands forget that the audience doesn’t take to “adult” content with love? Today, this strategy has backfired for most OTT platforms. Even brands advertising on these platforms had to justify the spend with ROI. Somewhere along the way, these OTT platforms forgot that they are upsetting a lot of their advertisers’ target audiences – women, at least for most FMCG brands.

So, while choosing a platform to advertise on, brands need to look out for the content offered on that platform, and who is watching it. Check for the ratio of fake ids and real people. This will give you an idea if the ROI can actually be achieved or not. Also, don’t compare television numbers with digital numbers, since the base itself is different.


Check for the reach of the OTT platform v/s spends. Organic reach today is very limited because of the changed algorithms of YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Hence if it’s regular content that the website/OTT platform is offering, see if it resonates with the brand ethos. Check if the ratio of organic reach and spend, and then evaluate reach number on the basis of these parameters. Pure numbers might not be a great matrix for decision making.

So, what should be the strategy of any OTT platform?

Content: The same content that runs on television cannot resonate with the digital audience. Digital medium demands creativity and not mediocrity. The fact that television and film censorship standards do not apply to the digital space is a responsibility that needs to be utilised with purpose and meaning. There are other ways to attract attention. Content creators need to be sensitive about the audience and brands. For example, the Ikea India launch attracted attention by simply incorporating a local auto rickshaw in Hyderabad.

Spend: Organic reach might be limited but you can spend on digital mediums to garner reach. Explain this spend to brands, and add that to the cost. YouTube has managed to increase its cost of advertising effectively. It might difficult and slow, but will work as a long-term strategy.

Lastly, brands have to look deeper into digital media plans to see where their advertisements are being showcased. Choose platforms carefully and consider a higher ROI to reach the right target audience. The key to new age digital media plans is to reach the right target audience at the right time with the correct message.


(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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