Akash Banerji, Business Head, Voot AVOD, a young veteran in the OTT space who has taken Voot to newer heights is certainly a name that Medianews4u.com had to get on its special year-ender series Focus 2020.
Here are some of the Focus points that Akash Banerji plans to focus on, in 2020.
Experiment with various business models.
We have very clearly realized that we have to keep on experimenting with different business models in a crazy country like India, where there are now 20 million subscriptions on the back of 10 million unique subscribers; which is projected to reach towards a 40 million subscription number next year, but that is in contrast to 500 million video users, the only thing is your ARPU from AVOD model per user is much lesser as compared to what you will earn from a subscription based model, but by the base of AVOD versus SVOD is still heavily skewed positively towards AVOD. How do you arrive at a business model where you continue to acquire a lot of users at scale through free means, and then you keep on up-selling them, so that you start driving more or higher ARPU from those users is the bottom line.
For us to be able to experiment with various business models, partnerships in this new marketplace are very important for us, since the last year we have partnered with all the major telcos, video aggregators, like Flipkart and MX Player, we are also partnering with DTH and STDs, so all of that partnership in a category where content and platform fragmentation is happening at a massive spree. Partnerships are one of the most important routes through which one can keep on driving user growth or subscriber growth without necessarily worrying about whether consumers will come and stay on my platform or not.
While user growth is a very important story but we all know there is a difference between user growth and downloads. Getting a lot of downloads is not so much of a worry. So user growth with a mind-set of I need to retain my users is one of the big things that we all tend to compromise on, forget about or give it a low priority. When we talk about retention, there are just simply two things. One is the entire user experience and the other is the content story and hence I predict that there is not going to be any abatement of content costs in 2020.
However, I think marketing costs in the short to medium term, might see a slight dip because marketing is about getting in a lot of new users, the core offering which is content is about getting those users to stay on your platform. And that’s a very important thing that we internally are focused on, or I’m at least very clearly driving that mind-set in my team.
I need to continuously keep on getting more and more users in a very 500 million user market like India. Where will my next set of user growth story come from? On that we are clearly pivoting towards is not to simply focus on the belly and the belly is male, metro, young audiences. What I want to focus is on the top and the tail. For me the top is the connected TV market, which is at a 10 to 15 million user number right now, but the amount of time this market spends on consuming content is crazy. On Voot, we see 3x the time spent on a connected TV than the time spent on a mobile device. Connected TV in conjunction with Jio STB, broadband services and 5G which I hope will finally come to the Indian market and will start showing some early signs of what streaming really is about, by the end of 2020. With 5G one will be able to download a 5GB movie in just a few seconds will be a complete game-changer on the connected TV front. There will be absolutely no latency whatsoever.
Tier II, III and Vernacular Markets
On the tail front, I am very clearly focused towards driving growth from tier two, tier three and vernacular markets, more than 50% to 60% of our growth is now coming from tier II, tier III markets. More than 25% to30% of my consumption is coming from vernacular languages and more than 55% of my consumption is coming from female audiences.
Everyone is only chasing the young, male, metro audiences and they are only going to have two or three video apps on their phone. So either you continue to fight the raging battle to win them over, or you start creating new markets for yourself in order to drive growth.
Voot Content Studio
On the advertiser side there are subsets, which are going to drive the growth. One is, I think, this fall in CPM, which had been happening for a very long time now. I think we finally hit a plateau and I think advertisers and agencies will finally realise that law of demand supply is a real law and it’s not a fake one because if your CPMs continue to see a free fall, then for a platform to go in the direction of a subscription based service or a transaction based service, that is a much better bet as opposed to trying to garner revenue from AdSense.
If that happens, then where will advertisers show their video ads and on which platform? Because every advertiser and every brand manager wants to be associated with good quality content and I’m talking about this from a video CPM point of view and not from a display CPM.
The second big subset is there are a lot of smaller scale advertisers who are now kept on hearing about video advertising and on how big it is and how good it is. For example, the initiative which Voot has taken with the Voot Content studio where we are helping brands and advertisers create video content. 2020 I think is going to be an inflection point where these advertisers would experiment with it and will finally take it to the next level by closely collaborating with platforms like Voot.
Voot studio started in the month of April 2019 in the next one year we want to make it into something very solid, very robust. In six months we have already crossed double-digit income growth, both in terms of revenue, and also in terms of number of advertisers.
I think this is going to be the fastest-growing stream revenue generation for us, where we are working very closely with advertisers and giving them a full suite of solutions.