Arpan Basu1

Is OTT the New Playground for Communicators?

Written by: Arpan Basu
About the author: Director Communications at Coca-Cola India and South West Asia


Earlier this year, I eavesdropped on an interesting conversation amongst the children at my kid’s school during the dispersal.  The topic being discussed was the marvels of technology where each person could by the mere click of a button – sign up for services or apps on smartphones and TVs and enjoy their offerings any-time through universal internet access at their fingertips. Today, the cable provider has become the provider of high-speed internet connection whereas the individual has become the controller of the content they want to consume. Television channels in the urban setting have become what our grandparents watch, hence may be passé in a certain sense.

As OTT (Over The Top) transforms content distribution and communication, the interesting question that crops up is what happens when business/brand communication decide to go the “over the top” way? Does transcending traditional media provide brands with the opportunity to maximize ownership of consumer touchpoints to deliver content, experiences, and products? Does it help them build a more direct and longer relationship with the consumers which would subsequently create sustainable value? Perhaps the most important question of all is – are brands and consumers really ready for it?

It is perhaps still very early days for OTT communication, but we can already see distinct patterns of principles emerge. The companies that best understand how they interact with customers mostly operate in the pure-play digital space. Therefore, the pertinent question to ask ourselves as communicators is – would the scope of our communication also not evolve dramatically? It would increase the necessity to look beyond traditional media and incorporate in our strategy the scope of consumer interaction as well.  The good news is – OTT platforms already provide the stage to enable targeting viewers basis their profiles and viewing habits that provide brands unique insights into the consumption patterns and help to build a strong relationship.

This new media platform offers a huge window of opportunity, for content that is hyper-localized, personalized and relevant. As we step into a new era of the post-pandemic world with trends created by it, let’s look at what, how, where and when it is that the consumer of the content wants, because at the end of the day that will drive our focus.

I want my content  communicating to a ‘you’ – personalization

The consumer of content on OTT platforms is highly individualistic. Thus, the traditional methods of ‘carpet bombing’ to drive mass messages will evolve, both in terms of thought and delivery of content. We can already see this happening through interactive engagements and letting consumers decide, to a certain extent thus proving a feeling of control, on the way forward in shaping stories.

And I want it my way – from local to hyperlocal, globally with language as a focal point

The market for regional language content – especially in Hindi, Tamil and Telegu languages – is growing twice as fast as that for English. As communicators, we need to invest and target exclusive, original content creators in regional languages who capture and reflect the nuances of the culture they are catering to. At the same time, technology has helped us transcend borders. OTT platforms have thrown content accessibility wide open to global audiences and are getting better every day at ‘glocalization’. This starts to make sense when you want to communicate with Global India in their language.

Don’t complicate it for me – keeping it simple and real

Consumers want the content to be easy to understand. OTTs are adopting innovative strategies for content creation through real-time dynamic testing and consumer feedback. As communicators, the onus is on us to successfully engage with this real-time information and synergize on both sides of the coin – building deeper connect and stronger affinities.

Getting really, really smart

Indian OTT platforms have taken the big leap to grab a slice of the global viewer pie. More futuristic tech will make it even easier to create and distribute content. How we leverage this information and knowledge will rest upon us.

Keep me engaged. – Interaction is name of the game

OTT platforms have the unique ability to offer various interactive elements in the user interface by taking hyper-personalisation to the next level. We’re sure to see far more innovative formats, consumer-driven twists to the stories we tell. This will push content creators to be agile in their ideation and engaging with delivery.

Unquestionably, 2020 is the dawn of a new era in the communications industry. As communicators we will need to optimise our business models and strategies, increasingly focusing on driving efficiencies through collaborations and alliances across these new value chains. As the general rule in life, the key is to strike a balance, the balance between the traditional and the newly evolving methods to message delivery.

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