Vernacular Mobile Video on Demand: A New Avenue for Marketers


by Meera Chopra

‘Localization’ of marketing through videos in native languages is the next level of audience engagement.

The facts are in front of us. In a recent global video insights survey we conducted on mobile video-on-demand (VOD) subscribers showed:

• An average 79 percent of mobile VOD subscribers preferred to view content in their native languages

• 84 percent of survey respondents wanted a single over-the-top (OTT) app that aggregated regional as well as international videos

The two data points lend to a trend: how a “think global, act local” approach is considerably significant to every business looking to enter, expand or sustain its market share in the emerging economies where English isn’t the native language.

Marketing to the Consumer in Their Own Language

India, a union of 29 states, home to over 1.2 billion people who speak 780 languages with more than 860 million active mobile connections, is a case in point. It underscores the opportunity of winning a heterogeneous market by leveraging the power of the mobile phone combined with localization of the marketing lingo. English may be the lingua franca of much of the world – and also the language in which you are reading this article at the moment – but the fact is despite being among the top 10 English-speaking countries, only a little over 10 percent of India’s population speak it.

So, how best can a marketer communicate to a multilingual and a multi-ethnic society that is united through the common need of being entertained?

The answer lies in localization of marketing efforts in the form of native language video campaigns.

They are targeted based on geography and, therefore, can be easily measured, are promoted via aggregated mobile video platforms that are increasingly seen as sources of entertainment and information, and score high on the entertainment quotient.

A recent Vuclip survey found Hindi videos already constitute over 40 percent of viewership traffic in India. Videos in languages such as Tamil (8 percent), Telugu (6 percent), Bengali (4 percent), and Marathi (4 percent) are also seeing increased traction.

Syncing Marketing Campaigns to Events and Festivals

Mobile VOD platforms that create customized video channels catering to different genres and languages enable efficient prospect targeting.

For instance, a channel created specifically for a sporting event is used to market brands such as health and energy drinks, sportswear, etc., in a language of the viewer’s choice.

India has many festivals. Throughout the year, every community or state celebrating a festival gives marketers an opportunity to make money by executing campaigns around these festivals, thereby mapping targeted prospects from specific communities.

Pongal and Baisakhi are harvest festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Punjab, respectively, by farmers. So, for example, an auto marketer could be running Tamil and Punjabi language ads on mobile VOD platforms in the run-up to the festivals, timing them in such a way to maximize tractor sales pre-harvest, and two-wheeler and car sales post-harvest.

Mobile Video is Changing the Game

Reams have been written about the efficacy of digital video ads over print that enables marketers to get a better bang for their advertising buck.

While the Internet has made the world flat, it is the rapid proliferation of Internet-enabled smartphones, especially in the emerging economies, that has made marketers adopt digital mediums.

Starting with email marketers to todays ever-evolving social media – marketers are constantly riding the learning curve, to tap new customers, entice them into becoming prospects, close sales, and sustain the relationship through communication that is engagement oriented.

Online video portals have been around for under a decade as a key marketing tool. But it is in the last four years that marketers have witnessed a paradigm shift towards it, forcing them to increase their budgetary allocations to the medium.

With mobile VOD, the learning curve for marketers has become really steep. Like ‘In-theatre’ advertising, they thrive on a captive audience hungry for entertainment or information.

The difference with the ubiquitous mobile phone is personalization.

Also, just as social media algorithms help marketers to know the taste and preferences of users, mobile VOD through data analytics provides marketers with a rich vein of information about the genre of content a viewer consumes, at what time of the day and on what device, besides sundry details like location.

Led by the emerging markets like India, global smartphones sales touched 336 million units in the March quarter of FY15, up 19.3 percent from the same period a year ago, according to research firm Gartner.

Complemented by increased Internet penetration and the onset of 4G, we have reasons to believe that the mobile phone in general, and mobile videos in particular, will continue to be a quintessential part of a marketer’s strategy.

It is the variety in communication, or the language we speak, that will create the differentiators.