Why India’s leading OTT providers are turning to YouTube to engage entertainment lovers

Kanika Jain, Siddharth Shekhar / April 2019

In India’s increasingly crowded online video space, over-the-top (OTT) providers are constantly competing for consumers’ attention (and wallets). To get in front of their core audience of entertainment lovers, OTT brands are reaching them where they spend their time: on YouTube.

From appointment viewing to binge-watching, the way people consume entertainment has changed a lot over the past 10 years. As more and more people turn to the web to stream video content, the number of OTT providers continues to grow — there are currently more than 30 in India alone.

While this is great news for consumers, OTT players face a very real struggle in reaching audiences in such a cluttered market. Brands are left competing to earn consumers’ attention, which is often spread thin across multiple channels and platforms.

Consumers in mobile-first India are hungry for video content. With 265 million monthly active users,1 YouTube is a popular platform for Indians to watch videos. The majority of these users come for entertainment-related content: Last year’s top 10 trending videos were all about being entertained.

Three of India’s top OTT players recognized this as an opportunity to leverage YouTube to drive awareness, subscriptions, and app installs.

Boosting OTT app installs with App campaigns

With 50% of OTT apps being uninstalled within seven days of downloading,2 every OTT platform is vying to be one of the few OTT apps on consumers’ smartphones.

Viacom 18’s video-on-demand platform Voot hosts a huge library of original and existing video content. With options for news junkies and reality TV fans alike, the brand knew its app would appeal to a wide variety of entertainment lovers — if it could just get in front of more of them. To drive app installs in a cost-efficient way, Voot ensured it showed up on YouTube by using multiple videos in its App campaign.

The campaign enabled Voot to show its ads where they were most likely to be clicked on YouTube, like at the bottom of the video player or on the sidebar. What’s more, the automated campaign continuously adjusted itself to make sure it was reaching users who were more likely to download the app.


The App campaign resulted in a 300% higher click-through rate (CTR), 60% lower cost per install, and 57% lower cost per video view compared to other video advertising platforms.

Dailyhunt, an app that publishes and aggregates news in 14 languages, used a similar strategy to get more users ahead of a state election. Using a “burst” approach to generate more downloads before the election, the brand ran App campaigns across search, YouTube, and the Display Network. To maintain a low cost per install, Dailyhunt set a target cost per install and gradually increased bids by 20% where it saw them working.


The unique strategy resulted in 86% more overall app installs — with 346% more installs coming from search and 44% more installs coming from YouTube — than standard campaigns.

“For the recently concluded state elections, we were trying to acquire a 3X larger user base,” said Abhilash Somanchi, director of strategy and innovation at Dailyhunt. “By using well-known practices for App campaigns, we were able to scale our campaigns and reach our goals in a brief time period.”

Adding subscribers more effectively

Before the premiere of “Rangbaaz,” its biggest show to date, ZEE5 wanted to drum up excitement and ultimately drive subscriptions to its platform, so it launched a multi-phase YouTube campaign. During each phase, a trailer featuring a different “Rangbaaz” character was served across the platform. To appeal to as many potential subscribers as possible, different creative variations were assembled based on audience signals, resulting in more than 44 versions of the video creative.


When “Rangbaaz” premiered, 95% of new ZEE5 subscriptions were a result of this campaign. Compared to the generic plot trailer the brand ran a month earlier, there was a 20X rise in daily paid subscription numbers during the customized campaign period with an 80% lower cost per subscriber.

“We are firm believers in video creative driving video conversions. Our teams maximized Google’s creative best practices to drive subscriptions at scale,” said Manish Aggarwal, business head at ZEE5 India.

Taking advantage of YouTube’s massive reach

India is a country of video fanatics who are hungry for more content. While competition might be high, OTT brands can boost their chances of success by taking advantage of new automated solutions and built-for-action campaign formats that boost both business and performance metrics.

India’s mobile-first ecosystem in numbers