THE $1 BILLION OPPORTUNITY FOR AUDIO OTT
With the advances in technology and high-speed internet, audio streaming was already a booming sector. However the pandemic that struck in 2020 saw a massive growth for the audio streaming sector, with platforms witnessing growth in both subscriber base and advertising revenue. During the lockdown this year at the time of the second wave, audio streaming has been on the rise with players exploring new formats of audio entertainment while confined to their homes. Strategies That Paid Off Collaborations with brands and artists Massive opportunity for advertisers Focus on regional growth What will drive future growth?
Consumers are choosing their music and playlists on the basis of their activities at home, which is reflected in the increased consumption of music across the country. Gaana too has seen an increase in both music consumption and paid subscribers. Sharing insights into the consumption patterns and genres of choice, Gautam Sinha, CEO, Times Internet and Gaana says, “On Gaana we witnessed a 13% rise in music consumption across India, with a notable 12% spike in romantic playlist streams across all age groups and 14% increase in devotional playlists - even among 18-24 year olds! Besides romance and spirituality, there was a whopping 26% surge in workout playlists, and a 24% surge in motivational or self-help podcasts. Paid subscribers constitute less than 10% of our overall user base today and the number is growing every year.”
More than 2 billion people globally come to YouTube each month to experience music, states Pawan Agarwal, Head of Music Partnerships, India & South Asia, YouTube. “In the first half of 2020, over half a million channels live streamed for the first time, which alone accounted for over 10 million streams on the platform. As of September 2020, YouTube has over 30 million Music and Premium paid subscribers, and over 35 million including those on free trials.”
Whether it is leveraging technology or choosing the right marketing mix, industry players have been consistently pushing the envelope with new innovations and strategies to drive growth on their platforms. Since its launch, Spotify has created and delivered over 25 campaigns across both digital and ATL platforms that have made an impact with consumers. “These largely local campaigns have helped us acquire new users, build engagement, and drive brand love. In fact, our top-of-mind-recall has increased by 6x, and more importantly, we have seen a 3x increase in brand love,” notes Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing - India, Spotify. “Going forward, we will continue to build our communications through human-driven insights and local nuances, so we can build a deeper connection with listeners across India’s diverse demographics.”
Going hyperlocal has always been our north star, says Agarwal. Earlier this year, the platform collaborated with top female creators in India to promote YouTube Premium around International Women’s Day. “We want to be able to connect with Indian listeners in the most authentic, locally and culturally relevant way possible. During top local moments like Diwali and Holi, we’ve launched campaigns in celebration of the occasions and provided extended free trials to allow users to spend more time learning about the benefits of YouTube Premium.”
Platforms like Hungama Music have innovated through unique partnerships with payment systems like PhonePe and Amazon Pay, allowing users to conveniently purchase subscriptions and enjoy seamless integration across different online services. “We use various referral programmes and aggressive amounts of partnerships in the digital space to drive our growth and our audiences,” remarks Siddhartha Roy, Chief Operating Officer, Hungama Digital Media. “As Hungama has a wide presence across our different ecosystems be it music or video, we get a chance to cross leverage the consumer. We’ve been doing massive programmes with payment systems like Amazon Pay, Phone Pe, etc.,” he adds.
Today, with the growing digital transformation, potential audience or consumers can be found on any digital platform. Hence, platforms are exploring collaborations with brands as well as artists in their endeavour to forge stronger connections with consumers and create brand loyalty. This is also a big positive for artists who are not able to perform at offline venues during the pandemic. To create and maintain a connection between the audience and the artist, JioSaavn launched JioSaavn LiveAnywhere. The property has since then hosted virtual gigs with prominent artists such as B.Praak, Palash Sen and Amaal Malik, among many others. Moreover, the platform recently collaborated with AR Rahman for 99 Songs JioSaavn LiveAnywhere Concert. “As a music-first brand, we try our best to provide unique experiences for our users across very diverse tastes. We gauged audience and artist sentiment to uncover a gap when it came to live shows.” notes Bhat.
Mankind Pharma recently rolled out an audio campaign for its face wash brand AcneStar with an aim to reach relevant audiences. Sharing insights about the campaigns and
With listeners in India increasingly turning to music and podcasts, there’s a growing opportunity for brands to reach their audience in a more meaningful and targeted way, through audio and visual mediums. Moreover, a majority of audio streaming consumers in India are free users, giving a massive window of opportunity for advertisers.
Advertisers are looking for new ways to reach consumers and audio OTT offers a plethora of avenues. The challenge however is that brands are still to leverage audio and move beyond video OTT. “With the rise of voice search, brands need to get creative to properly communicate with audiences. In India, brands are not yet aware of the full
While a lot of brands like McDowells, Reckitt, Dominos, Royal Stag, Nestle, OkCupid and Mondelez have been investing on various audio streaming platforms for advertising, brands like Mamaearth and Tata Consumer Soulfull are also positive about advertising through audio streaming in the future. “Mamaearth’s consumers are
Growth for these platforms has emerged from not just the key metros and urban markets, but also the regional market that is not far behind. In fact, for Gaana, regional music contributes more than 39% consumption, which is more than 32X growth in absolute consumption over the past three years. Similarly, JioSaavn has also been focussing on regional markets. Last year, it launched the ‘We Are India’ campaign to celebrate excellence in regional content.
Starting from personalisation to podcasts or collaborations with independent artists and live streamings, there are various ways in which the audio OTT space is evolving and growing. In addition, players are pulling out all the stops to drive advertiser interest. Last year, Gaana.com introduced Voice Dialog ads and Dynamic Audio ads in order to enable advertisers to connect with Gaana listeners with real-time contextual audio creatives. Explaining about the new formats of audio ads, Sinha remarks, “These audio marketing innovations will enable marketers to create hyper-personalised ads in real-time by tagging parts of commercial scripts based on demographics, weather, time, music preference, device and other third party data to create and serve relevant ads to our user-base.”
Another interesting trend that has been keeping the audience engaged is the popularity of podcasts. Having emerged as an extremely engaging medium of entertainment and information, podcasts allow audiences to access an array of content in an interactive manner. Speaking about Hungama Music’s upcoming podcasts, Roy says, “We see a lot of brand engagements being built on the back of higher personalisation and higher consumption that these consumers are driving. The other big play is the podcast space where Hungama’s focus is very clearly to bring in very interesting podcasts where there are going to be over 30 broadcasts across 60 languages. We are planning to introduce it this year itself.”
While the options are diverse, it remains to be seen just how audio streaming platforms will endeavour to hit new notes and scale new heights in their attempt to sustain the momentum they have had over the past couple of years.
With the advances in technology and high-speed internet, audio streaming was already a booming sector. However the pandemic that struck in 2020 saw a massive growth for the audio streaming sector, with platforms witnessing growth in both subscriber base and advertising revenue. During the lockdown this year at the time of the second wave, audio streaming has been on the rise with players exploring new formats of audio entertainment while confined to their homes.
Strategies That Paid Off
Collaborations with brands and artists
Massive opportunity for advertisers
Focus on regional growth
What will drive future growth?