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Shradha Agarwal, Chief Operating Officer and Strategy Head, Grapes Digital Pvt. Ltd, is an entrepreneur and digital marketing professional with more than 10 years of experience. Shradha worked at an event management company in 2008 but her quest for learning and exploring the digital medium took her to the digital side of the advertising business, in 2013 along with Himanshu Arya she launched Grapes Digital.

In this exclusive piece, she writes about the challenges the digital industry faced during COVID-19, about how even in crises there are opportunities and about the evolution of new forms of content. Read on.

The COVID-19 crisis has made us all believe that ‘In every crisis lies an opportunity, depending on how it is looked at’ the crisis has brought along new opportunities, especially for the digital marketing ecosystem. The pandemic started with announcements by brands to restrain marketing budgets. Also, the Government imposed restrictions on shooting outdoors, and hence video emerged as the biggest tool to engage with the audiences.

All of this was going on, the entire marketing ecosystem was grappling through new challenges. But a creative mind can change any crisis into an opportunity, and that is what happened when the creative minds of the digital marketing ecosystem have come together with unique ideas to promote their brands and while all Indians were sitting at home, we have made most of it.

The COVID-19 crisis has made us all believe that ‘In every crisis lies an opportunity, depending on how it is looked at’ the crisis has brought along new opportunities, especially for the digital marketing ecosystem: Shradha Agarwal

According to a report, Indian consumers have been spending more time on their smartphones compared to previous years, be it for work from home (75 percent increase), calling (63 percent rise), or for viewing content. Overall the OTT channels like Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and others have resulted in 59 percent growth in time spent by consumers.

There has also been a 55 percent increase in time spent on social media and a 45 percent rise in time spent gaming on smartphones. Interestingly, the average duration of clicking pictures and taking selfies has increased from 14 minutes to 18 minutes in a day.

The average usage of smartphones by Indians is estimated to have gone up 25 percent to almost 7 hours a day as people depend on these gadgets for work/study from home amidst the pandemic. The digital marketing industry has evolved in the middle of the pandemic that has given birth to new content formats. 

The pandemic that forced people to stay at home and OTT platforms have made most of it by releasing local content that has raised the appetite for local content. The paid subscriptions on OTT video platforms grew to 29 million by July, a jump of 31% in just four months: Shradha Agarwal

Short Format Video

There has been a rise in short format videos and the audiences. The content creators of short-format videos are increasing every hour in India. The popularity of the short video format has gone up with Instagram launching Reels which has successfully filled the void created by the ban on Tiktok in India.

OTT platforms                                                                       

The pandemic that forced people to stay at home and OTT platforms have made most of it by releasing local content that has raised the appetite for local content. The paid subscriptions on OTT video platforms grew to 29 million by July, a jump of 31% in just four months, shows the latest estimate available with India Brand Equity Foundation.

Podcast                                             

A podcast is a new tool in digital marketing that is at a very nascent stage in India as the country. However, it is growing steadily, and the number will reach approximately 175 mn from the current 40mn by 2023. Gen X will drive the growth as 60-65 percent of customers feels that music and podcasts will be their preference for self-discovery.

A part of the above, we have done several campaigns that were well received by the masses like #ThankYouHaters for AcneStar Facewash, Banao Boring KaamKo Ting Tong, Happy Ending On Father’s Day for Manforce, Pharmacist Day for Mankind Pharma, Power of Immunity for Groviva, Indian Jibbitz for Crocs, More Recipes for AlpenliebeJuzt Jelly, Rap Music Video for Sparx around IPL, etc. Furthermore, we have leveraged moment marketing for most of the brands we are working for which received well by our audience, and we have seen great numbers in terms of engagement.

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