Will video content on Flipkart & Zomato help increase user engagement?

Experts say any promise of value-added services on apps is a good marketing strategy

by Shikha Paliwal
Published - Sep 20, 2019 8:26 AM Updated: Sep 20, 2019 9:22 AM

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India loves consuming video online. Studies after studies show how cheaper data plans and growth of the smartphone user base have spurred video consumption. It was only a matter of time that marketers would find ingenious ways to tap into this obsession of the Indian consumer and use it to lure new customers or retain the existing ones.

Only recently, in a bold marketing move, digital giants Flipkart and Zomato announced the launch of video content on their apps, thus stepping out of their comfort zones. While Zomato has centered its video content around its business of food, e-commerce giant Flipkart’s video section is offering movies and content from OTT players such as Arre, Dice Media, TVF and Voot. In fact, even digital wallet Paytm, which already has a plethora of services on its app, is reportedly planning to add content, news, short videos and live TV for its users soon.

Both, Flipkart and Zomato, have dismissed speculations of entering the mainstream OTT space. Their content, they say, is purely from a user engagement perspective. It is a value addition for existing customers and an attempt to tap potential ones, they say. It is important to note that the content on both the platforms is free and available in a user friendly format. If one looks at it from the point of view of Flipkart, offering free content is a direct challenge to its arch rival Amazon which has its subscription based Prime videos.

Zomato’s niche food-only original content, in contrast, is a unique concept from the food delivery app. The day the company announced the launch, Deepinder Goyal, CEO & Founder, Zomato, had said, “We are constantly looking for new ways to engage our users around food. Most of our users visit our app several times a week. This presents us with an opportunity to further delight our users using Zomato Originals.”

It is plain to see why video content is an attractive prospect for these brands, besides value addition. If customers tune in to watch these shows, it increases the time spent on their apps, which basically translates into better business. We asked industry experts whether or not this move by the digital brands really does improve user engagement or are consumers not really moved about video consumption on these apps?

Some experts say the response to video content on Flipkart, which is borrowed from existing OTT players, may not hold much draw, while Zomato’s original food-related content may arouse interest.

MK Machaiah, President, Content+, Mindshare South Asia, explains, “Broadly, engagement on social space is defined as time spent. If you look at it from the Flipkart lens, if they don’t have new content and it is repeatable content which is already visible on a far more popular OTT, it will be just another long tail OTT player. Then the time spent by people on this kind of content will be far less. If there is fresh or new content which is good and if it is promoted enough, the engagement rate will definitely go up.”

“As far as Zomato goes, if they are doing short-format, YouTube kind of content on food, will it really work? I think it’s an experimentation from their end. Keeping in mind that the app is used frequently by people to order food, and suddenly if they see this content that is going to be played and if this content is going to be food content, if it is unique and has celebrities sharing some cuisines and recipes, definitely there would be some amount of traction. The reason there would be traction is that people do use these apps and when they see the availability of this content there, trial happens. The trial will happen, but stickiness will happen by the quality and uniqueness of the content,” Machaiah adds.

Meanwhile, others in the industry believe that the nature of the digital ecosystem is such that the consumer is spoilt for choice. Therefore, any promise of value added services on their app is a good marketing strategy.

Krish Ramnani, Co-founder & Director of Technology/Innovation, Togglehead, says, “In today's era, with data becoming cheaper, apps are fighting for real estate on a consumer's phone. In such a scenario, the ones that tend to survive are the ones used on a day-to-day basis and are an interface to the entire ecosystem. Further, all apps are gradually moving towards super apps (one app for all services), venturing into content at such a time comes as a progressive step towards this direction. In the future, I foresee shoppable content (clickable products in videos) much like shoppable Instagram that attract marketers and increase the consumer's stickiness.”

It comes as no surprise that digital brands are pushing to get bigger and better in India, with the country predicted to be one of the fastest growing markets for digital consumers. A McKinsey report released earlier this year reflects India’s insatiable appetite for the internet. It states that internet users in India will rise by 40 per cent and the number of smartphones will double by 2023. Further, the report also says India was second only to China in most apps downloaded, an impressive 12.3 billion in 2018. In such a market, one can expect to see more and more players enter the space hoping to get a slice of this growth. Existing players will, therefore, need to strengthen their position to be able to withstand the competition. A super app which can improve user engagement then seems to be a step in the right direction.

Explains Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO & Co-Founder, TheSmallBigIdea, "Creating a content ecosystem is on most brands' wishlist today. But due to high entry cost on TV, this ended up becoming 30-second ads. On digital, it's a function of how much you pay to expose people to your content and wait for measurable results to follow. Apps have helped brands to break these barriers by creating content for their current users, hence attempting to increase the customer lifetime value. Creating sharp, high affinity content will increase stickiness and time spent on apps. And as time goes in, a revenue ecosystem will be created. Content extensions will thus add more value to apps, which are fighting for the customer's digital real estate."

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