Viacom18’s Voot soars higher with 100 mn MAUs

MUMBAI: Viacom18’s video streaming platform Voot has achieved the 100 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) milestone, a goal that it had set last year. As per App Annie data for December 2019, the platform’s Time Spent per viewer (TSV) is 46 minutes.

Voot business head advertising video platform (AVoD) Akash Banerji said that the ad revenue over the past year has doubled. The platform gets 23% of its ad revenue from regional content while Voot Studio’s contribution is 10%.

Voot Studio, he noted, was set up to help advertisers tell stories and narrative that goes beyond the 30-second spot. It has worked with around 15 clients so far.

The platform’s five key focus areas going forward are continuous innovation, content and publishing agility, regional growth, using big data to streamline costs and consumer lifetime value.

Banerji said that profitability is the biggest goal for the AVoD business. The expectation is to get there in the coming year if not sooner. He, however, declined to talk about the percentage of Viacom18’s revenue coming from Voot noting that it is a far more recent initiative.

“We are moving steadfastly in our journey to drive profitability. I am confident that we will be the first AVoD platform in the country to be profitable,” he stated.

Banerji noted that Consumer Lifetime Value will be the key metric of success in the digital space going forward. “Till the time I am driving a higher Consumer Lifetime Value I know that I am taking tangible steps towards driving profitability for my business.”

According to him, the consumer lifetime value is determined by the advertising demand that the platform has. If there is no demand then the platform has no value for that user and if Rs. 20 was spent on acquiring that customer then that is money wasted.

“That is true either for AVoD or for SVoD. If I do not have advertiser demand then why the hell am I spending money on acquiring that user as opposed to say a female in 25-35 age-group which gives me half the watch-time at a cost of Rs. 20? But if I can generate advertiser value that is more than Rs. 20 because the advertiser wants to target that user then I am going to go and acquire the user. The value is then more than the cost. This is the only mantra to drive profitability for your business.”

He stressed that Voot’s aim is not to build a business for the sake of driving valuation. It is also not about driving the perception that involves simply spending money on content, marketing and then going out there talking about it. The aim is not to quickly drum up the numbers and dress up the bride so that it can be sold. “Our business is supposed to achieve its goal of driving profitability. We have taken baby steps in driving profitability from a unit economics point of view.”

On the content front, he noted the importance of balancing reality shows with other entertainment content. While non-fiction drives new user acquisition the entertainment content drives platform consumption. These buckets of content have to work in tandem. Striking the right balance, therefore, is important. He noted that the new Voot originals can be expected in the coming year and the focus is also going to be on seeing how much how the content creation opportunities also have a revenue possibility.

“I am not going to do anything just for the heck of it, just for the perception of it. I am a 100 million user platform driving 100 billion minutes of watch time. I don’t need to create any kind of a halo in the marketplace. If I can create five new Original pieces of content that can drive sponsorship, inventory opportunities I will do that. But if these opportunities are not created then I will not do it.”

He also said that regional is the new national. Marathi, Kannada, and Tamil are the languages where the platform has seen excellent traction. He also said that unlike other OTT platforms, Voot has an even mix of men and female consumers which makes it an attractive proposition for brands like HUL. He also noted that 65% of Voot’s consumption comes from outside the megacities showing that the Indian OTT story is no longer just young, male and coming from the Metros.

A crucial component in achieving profitability is accountability to advertisers. He said that on digital clients want to know if they have reached the right TG, if a click happened and if a purchase happened. So Voot has implemented Moat for Viewability. Was an ad seen properly? Then Nielsen DAR is used to help determine if the right TG, specific audience set was targeted through a campaign, activity. Also, advertisers want to know what a user’s interests are. Is he an adventure seeker? Is she an online shopper? Do they like to eat in restaurants? The aim is to be precise in targeting.

Voot, he said, has an in-house tool that allows for this. It gives rich insights about consumers. He added that programmatic is also important and close to 50% of advertising on Voot comes through this route.

He regrets the fact that standard third party measurement is missing. He blames this on a few platforms with some vested interests and noted that they need to wake up and smell the coffee. “We are late in that and if we have to move to the next level then it is imperative that we not only start walking but running.”

Co-Creation with Voot Studio

Launched in April, Voot Studio is a playbook for advertisers and brands of all sizes that has been built using a combination of our creative storytelling, production expertise, interactivity offerings, social media platforms and native elements that come together to meet the business objectives. In less than a year Voot Studio has co-created marquee properties with brands, helping each brand uniquely deliver on their brand narrative.

Unique shows and formats like TikTok present Work it Up with Sophie & #Cheatweekin Singapore with Singapore Tourism amongst others have all contributed to building equity and resonance for the brands. 10% of monetization on the platform is achieved through Voot studio with the focus on doubling the same through the next year.

Voot Partnership eco-system

Banerji noted that this represents an additional revenue stream. The aim is to ensure that Voot is available far and wide. One of the key drivers of reach through the year was the building of a diverse and inclusive partner ecosystem that aimed to ensure an omnichannel and multiscreen presence for Voot. The strategy was to achieve seamless and wide distribution through partnering with brands across categories like connected TVs, devices, telcos, travel, utility, broadband, etc.

Brands like Sony, LG, Samsung, Flipkart, Ola, MX Player, and Airtel joining the new bandwagon have ensured the last mile availability of Voot. The key is that monetisation ability across each and every platform rests with Voot. Voot, Banerji explains, thus unlocks additional inventory for its ad sales team to go out and sell. Moreover, Voot will formally launch a Voot Partner Sales Network.

Expanding regional footprint

Unlocking new territory with vernacular Content, Voot’s regional slate saw many firsts. They included making a digital-first entry into the Telugu market with shows like Feet Up with the Stars Telugu to Regional Reality Content experience being augmented with interactivity and advertiser-friendly content innovations. The platform, Banerji said, has witnessed 4X growth in the contribution to the views from Regional content as a result of these initiatives.

An all-new refreshed Voot

A lot of work has gone into the tech area through things like strengthening the User Interface. Voot has set up its in-house team for this. There has been a pivot to be self-reliant on the tech front and so Voot has its tech team in Bangalore. A complete tech hub is being built there and the aim is to gradually reduce the reliance, dependence on other partners.

So Voot has its team of coders, AI experts, machine learning experts, programming guys, etc who can create tech for the future in the most seamless manner.

Banerji said that the aim was to build a stronger, agile and futuristic tech for the new Voot 3.0 app. The focus lies on improving content discoverability, providing what it calls an unmatched user experience and agility for the digital content user. Given that we live in an attention deficit time content discovery is all the more important.

The aim of Voot 3.0, he said, is to drive higher personalisation, great recommendation and easy discoverability of different shows. Consumers, he said, who watch more than two shows are three times more than likely to be retained as opposed to a consumer who only sees one show. At the end of the day, retention is the new acquisition. The tech is the enabler of this.

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