ALTBalaji will break even next year: Divya Dixit

In a freewheeling chat with exchange4media, Dixit SVP - Marketing, Analytics & Direct Revenue at ALTBalaji speaks passionately about the business she understands best

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Jan 31, 2020 2:32 PM

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Divya Dixit

The  SVP of Marketing, Analytics & Direct Revenue at ALTBalaji, Divya Dixit's energy is almost infectious as she moves between meetings, attending calls and other demands that her job brings. When she finally settles down to speak to us about the marketing initiatives of ALTBalaji, her vision for the platform is crystal clear. “ALTBalaji will break even next year, Balaji Telefilms will turn profitable as a group next year” declares Divya with conviction.

Marketing, Divya explains, is all about bringing the attention to yourself and at ALTBalaji, they have managed to do that despite the challenges. “We are the smallest platform in terms of content budget and marketing budget. Here, the major challenge is how are you going to spend lesser than but create the same impact and noise as the giants. So, we have to be really sharp and smart in whatever we spend the money on and try to negotiate and barter. Here, the team is lean but very sharp. They know exactly how much will it get done and we ensure that it is done in a manner that  creates maximum noise.”

ALTBalaji’s unique marketing initiatives and campaigns to connect with their consumers and stakeholders have indeed grabbed attention time and again. Shares Divya: “Our idea of unique initiative is that with every show launch, we don’t only talk about the show but also create a peg to tell people about the wrongs happening in the society, and how we can contribute towards making them right. We have such initiatives planned for each of our shows and we consider them unique marketing. We use entertainment as a peg to bring about the change in the thought process of the society. ALTBalaji stands high for children and women empowerment as we believe that they need support. With all our marketing campaigns, we work toward this goal.”    

For their show Cold Lassi aur Chicken Masala, they partnered with the Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Keeping the essence of the show in mind, the name of the show, along with the Zee5 and ALTBalaji logo, was printed across cloth bags of the dabbas to ensure maximum visibility and high recall value. For Mission Over Mars (M-O-M), their hoarding featured the four lead characters with a rocket taking off. It was placed at a high-visibility locale in Mumbai, captivating onlookers by the visual spectacle of a moving rocket. For its psycho-thriller, Bekaaboo, they rolled out a campaign around mental health to initiate conversations around subjects considered taboo in our society.

Adds Divya, “Apart from its strong content library, ALTBalaji also launched some clutter-breaking and innovative initiatives like ‘Breast Buffer’ campaign to create awareness for Breast Cancer. It reminded viewers that regular self-examinations can help save lives. This was well received by the subscribers and was also applauded by media, influencers, critics and celebrities.”

They were also the first OTT platform to use virtual reality (VR) for the launch of Ragini MMS Returns. In an innovative twist, an industry-first Stereoscopic 3D 360 degree VR narrative film was created to spook audiences and draw attention to the launch.

The platform is working closely with brands too. Divya shares how brands are eager to partner with them because of the results they receive. Says Divya: “Some brands come to us for marketing efforts where we integrate them in the show and they give us their marketing inventories to push and promote the show. They support us across their social media.” 

The platforms library too is a big draw for brands both here in India and internationally “With a library of over 55 original shows, ALTBalaji surpasses the likes of Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime with its large portfolio of original shows.  Our positioning in this area is very clear. Today, 70 per cent of the markets is Hindi in India and globally also we have grown. 18 per cent of the traction comes from the global audience, without aggressive marketing. This diaspora is coming from US, UK, Canada, Australia, Middle East and South East Asia. These are our largest markets in terms of international traffic.  This strong audience base makes brands associate with ALTBalaji.” Says Dixit.

Alt Balaji plans to scale up its library for its international audience and is looking to aggressively target the overseas markets.

She further shares that in terms of Hindi originals, they have got the Bharat consumers and they first intend to conquer the Hindi market and then turn their focus on other regional languages. Currently, some of their shows are dubbed in regional languages. By next year they may begin looking at creating originals in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi.

There are multiple shows in the pipeline for the year ahead, namely, It happened in Calcutta, Dil Hi Toh Hai Season 3, Class of 2020, Mentalhood, Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain Season 3, Mumbhai and Baarish 2.

Being a digital-first platform, their digital marketing strategy is also of utmost importance to the company, says Divya ,“ Digital will always play a critical role for me in the marketing mix and 50 per cent of the budget goes for pure-play digital.  For us, digital marketing will comprise all the social media handles and platforms, portals and we create backlinks to ensure our website has great authority.”

Influencer marketing, which entails using actors from the show as influencers, is part of their digital marketing. The actors’ fan base helps them organically create a push for their shows through the PR and social media route.

Shares Divya: “As per the Eikona PR report, our brand SOV also witnessed a rise from 28 per cent to 37 per cent in OTT space and has been 52 per cent in May 2019. We believe that organic noise will far outstrip paid noise. Our strategy is simple, PR, social media is for organic acquisition and the noise and the buzz and what I pay for digital is for customer acquisition. I work with this and it helps me keep my budget in alignment.”

Summing up with the OTT trends of the future, Divya believes there will be multiple disruptions, out of which quite a few will be technology-led like AR/ VR, gamification, etc. She also sees innovative narratives along with stories from Bharat picking up pace. The audience, she asserts, are now exploring online content in their native languages. Elaborating on the other  key trends in the space, she says “Moving out of a partnership model with multiple freemium Telco platforms to a single partner model behind a paywall, ALTBalaji in this industry-first alliance has demonstrated a shift from quantity to quality of subscribers accessing their content. The coming years will only witness more consolidations among the increasingly crowded OTT landscape with mergers, takeovers, collaborations and content production deals.”

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