Marketers flock to audio OTT as commute resumes post lockdown

The biggest incentive for marketers to be on these platforms is growing access and reach. In October, 30 million adults tuned into audio OTT against 23.3 million users in September

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: Dec 17, 2020 8:19 AM  | 4 min read

After months of the pandemic-induced lockdown, joggers are back in the park and vehicles have returned to roads and traffic jams are also back. Marketers are also returning to platforms like Jio Saavn, Hungama Music and Spotify India since the recovery in OTT has sped up with the opening up of businesses and public transport.

The biggest incentive for marketers to be on these platforms is their growing access and reach. The user base numbers have only been scaling up in the last couple of months. As per the latest Kantar -VTION™ report released in October, 30 million adults tuned into audio OTT against 23.3 million users in September.

Interestingly though, the maximum growth came from Tier II and Tier III cities. “While Hindi still dominates the music space, digital services are going to the hinterlands pushing the growth to a great extent in Tier II and Tier III cities for us where we have seen 3X and 4X growth respectively as compared to the 2.5X-2.7X growth in Tier 1 cities. Needless to say, these numbers are reviving ad contracts from marketers that had come to a standstill during the peak lockdown months,” said Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media.

Hungama Music is working with brands from sectors like FMCG, a mobile ecosystem which is basically devices, automobile, mutual fund brands, banks and video OTT players. “We are working with a host of brands like Nissan from the automobiles sector, Dominos and Pizza Hut from the F&B sector and interestingly a lot of gaming platforms like Adda 52 and My Circle 11 have also gotten on to our platform. Video OTT is also a huge advertiser for us. In the last few months we have done some major campaigns for the sector including an extensive one for Mirzapur 2,” Roy added.

As of 2019, when the growth of audio OTT was at its peak in the country with a host of new entrants in the medium, the Indian audio OTT industry was valued at USD 280 million. As per the latest numbers from Indian Music Industry (IMI), revenues from the audio OTT industry in 2019 contributed 67 per cent of the total recorded music revenue in India.

However, while most of the traffic comes in from the resumption of commute there are other reasons that lead to the growth in the medium.

“There could also be bundling led gains that some of the audio OTTs are benefiting from including those from Airtel Wynk, Amazon Prime ( Music) and Times Prime( Gaana)- which offer immense value to listeners. The subscription model also seems to be seeing some traction- with anecdotal feedback on consumers willing to pay for ad-free content including some premium content including originals- both in music and podcasts. Interestingly at the other end of the spectrum, Amazon’s Audible has also seen some consumer interest in the last 60 days as can be seen in its search trends for its audiobooks and related offerings,” said Ajit Gurnani, CCO at Zenith.

According to Gurnani, the other thing working for audio OTT brands is the reach that they are able to command with growths over the last 9 months- some of it spurred by the pandemic/WFH trends. “This coupled with the engagement (time spent) opportunities to be more immersive is allowing brands to explore them with greater interest. This is particularly true for podcasts, which may have longer playtime and loyalty given their nature. With improved technology and data-based solutioning, some platforms are also looking at deeper personalization and are also exploring interactive formats with more meaningful performance results,” he said.

Talking of formats, brands have tried different types to support marketers and offer them maximum return on investments. JioSaavn for instance is working towards allowing brands to engage with their audience across touchpoints. “In the past few months, we’ve been working on ensuring that brands can narrate their stories to audiences in real-time which are hyper-contextual to their earbud moment. Finally, with content becoming more relevant to a user's everyday life and playing many roles - entertainment, solace, a reminder of happy times, etc., the role of digital audio as a content marketing medium is increasing. Hence, we are working on enhancing ways brands can bring to life their Sonic Branding strategies,” said a JioSaavn spokesperson.

The platform recorded over 120 brands choosing to amplify their marketing narrative by adding JioSaavn to their media mix between April and August this year. “During the same period, there was also a 72.5% increase in the number of unique brands that came on board since 2019. We’ve continued to see brands trust JioSaavn over the last few months too,” the spokesperson said.

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