Mikesh Chaudhary and Tanya Nagpal, in a long-distance relationship for three years, decide to move in together. They end up choosing a flat on commonfloor.com, a real estate portal owned by Quikr, with the help of Purushottam, the often interfering broker. The second season of the web-run series, ‘Permanent Roommates’, by YouTube channel The Viral Fever (TVF) saw Purushottam return as a driver of OlaCabs, which incidentally, is also the sponsor of the season.
The episodes of Season 1 have been viewed around 3.5 million times on YouTube. Season 2, which premiered on Valentine’s Day this year, is catching up fast. The more the viewership, the merrier it is for Quikr and OlaCabs.
Brands are no longer banking on the five seconds before the “Skip Ad” option on YouTube to grab audiences’ attention. New-age startups, including Quikr, Ola, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Swiggy, are cashing in on spoof-based content — comedy, satire and parody videos — to gain visibility.
The idea is to weave the brand as a character within the video. And that’s where YouTube channels, such as All India Bakchod (AIB) and TVF, are scoring. AIB has 1.64 million subscribers. TVF boasts of 1.65 million.
“The concept of weaving a brand into the scripts creates content, which is original and engaging, and provides longevity,” says Vineet Sehgal, chief marketing officer, Quickr, a classified portal company.
No wonder, according to a recent Google study, ‘YouTube Ads Leaderboard’, the top 10 Indian ads on the video-streaming website clocked 400,000 hours of watchtime between January and June 2016.
Around 70% of YouTube India’s over 60 million unique users are below 35. “Through these YouTube campaigns, brands are targeting the youth, in the 18-35 age-bracket,” adds Sehgal.
TVF claims to have partnered more than 50 brands — Lenovo, Head & Shoulders, Flipkart, Pond’s, Ola, commonfloor, Duracell and Kingfisher, among others.
“When our videos started getting popular, various brands approached us to make content for them. But we started convincing companies to integrate their brand within our content,” said Arunabh Kumar, CEO, TVF Media Labs. “We did ‘Emotional Atya-charge’ for startup Freecharge. It was one of the first long-form brand integration on YouTube.”
“Young people do not watch TV these days. They are the audience we want to cater to,” says Rohan Joshi, member, AIB. “We did a bunch of videos with Quikr, and then Snapdeal also got associated with us.”
The brand integration deals on YouTube are very different from traditional TV ads. Brand integration with a web series costs a company a minimum of ₹50 lakh. A 30-second primetime slot on TV is worth ₹1-2 lakh.
“A well-integrated content on YouTube adds more value for the brand. A TV commercial may claim 60 million views, but it is possible that many of them saw it in passing. On YouTube, there may be only 2 million views, but all of them must have engaged with it meaningfully.” adds Joshi.
“Brand integration with web content provides ‘longevity’. Ola as a brand will always be there with Permanent Roommates,” adds TVF’s Kumar.
YouTube also gives a lot of analytics support to the channels — how many viewers watch them on mobile or desktop and the age-wise break-up of viewership, among others. Brands find it easier to track their audience.
Both brands and individuals have started cashing in on the growing popularity of the YouTube channels.
Nazar Battu, a Delhi-based YouTube channel which started posting videos six months back, has already added 50,000 subscribers. It has worked with brands, including Testify (video-editing mobile app), Rolling Joint (Delhi-based food joint) and Hootzap (legal complaint service), among others.
“Almost every day a new YouTube channel comes up. The biggest challenge is how to differentiate from others,” says Ameen Khan, creative head, Nazar Battu.”
“Being an internet company, digital and social are important for us. Our last associations were successful, and we plan to engage in more collaborations in future,” a spokesperson at OlaCabs said.