Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unsolicited advice to VOD platforms part 2: get over the Youtube fixation

Thank you everyone for the amazing response to last week's post about VOD platforms. Continuing on the same topic....

Youtube is for the masses, your VOD platform is for the ones with the money. It is quite simple, over time the rabid class of mass audience takes over the viewership on the Internet. One has to just read the comments to understand what I mean. Youtube adds an additional layer to the confusing mass by having everything under the sun under one roof. The closest analogy is that of a fish market. On the other hand a VOD platform that is curated and has hand picked content is more like a fine dining experience. There is no jostling crowds and insane elements trying to derail your experience. My take always has been that if you want to advertise to the audience that is mass and your product includes soaps and shampoos, then please go ahead and use Youtube. Your VOD platform has the opportunity to address the other side of the audience - the non mass guy who has willingly plonked money to experience a good service.

While advertising can never sustain revenue and ad funded VOD services will forever bleed, you can augment by allowing sponsorship and branded programming that is not obtrusive or offensive. I have been called naive for suggesting this in the past, but my argument is that I am the kind of audience you are addressing and if I am ok with seeing / interacting with ads before my content, then there would be more like me. Yes, it is a  task to get the media buyers to see beyond CPMs and cost per transaction, but they see reason when you go back with data - with solid understanding of your audience. I am never saying that there will be a pile of money on this type of advertising in month 3 of the service. By taking the pressure off ad funded revenue streams, you would be able to start small and grow.

Invent ad options - allow the advertiser to choose between the kind of content he wants to associate with on the 3/4 screens. The content and its derivatives can be delivered with different ad options / sponsorship options. I have seen Hulu do this effectively but am yet to see and Indian VOD platform go beyond the usual. Be bold, sell inventory to the advertisers who are looking at experimenting.

Use your VOD platform to go beyond the main content that you are so obsessed with. Go and ask the studios and channels for content that is discarded and create interactivity with live TV. Instead of competing with the large screens everywhere, try to be the supplementary screen that the audience goes to when they want to go beyond the first screen, integrate with the advertising on TV for the shows, with the in film advertising and extend the reach.

Finally, listen! Listen to the buzz, listen to the gut of the content acquisition guys, and the content that's bubbling under the surface on the social media scene. And then use that intelligence to manage the needs of the audience.

Running a VOD platform is akin to running several TV channels at the same time. Talk to the guys who run TV channels often. They may be of another generation but I learnt a lot from what they know and am sure the VOD platforms can gain from them too.

Hope this helps....

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