All India Bakchod‘s YouTube channel has over 1.2 million subscribers and has received over 103 million views (as of July 2015, including the Roast videos which were made private). In the second part of MediaNama’s three part interview with All India Bakchod, co-founder Tanmay Bhat speaks about the All India Bakchod’s different means of monetisation, their relationship with brands, brand expectations, target audience, among others. (Read part 1 of the interview here, where Bhat spoke about how AIB produces and tests videos before releasing them online. Read part 3 here, where Bhat speaks about making content for television, IP of their videos, relationship with Maker Studio, among others)
Means of monetisation
MediaNama: How can you generate returns on YouTube for productions involving high costs? How does it work?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: This is the problem when we are trying to scale up. There are two or three ways to do this. While YouTube inventory is not enough to fund high production sketches, our videos have broken even on YouTube advertising itself in the last year or year and a half.
Secondly, if you create content that is legacy content which is content that can be viewed a year or two or three or four years from now, it will eventually reach a point where it can break even which is what has happened to our previous sketches. Thirdly, we now have sponsors being integrated into the video so it automatically takes care of the production cost and a little over that. That’s our main mode.
MediaNama: How does it work with YouTube restricting sponsorship?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: YouTube hasn’t banned sponsorship. YouTube has said that there are certain ways in which sponsors can be integrated. But there are other ways in which YouTube is very open to letting integration. YouTube doesn’t want to kill creators wanting to make money. So there are some ways you can integrate in your videos.
I think the opening slate was a bit of an issue for a small period of time but that has also been retracted. If you read the exact rules, you will know that you can integrate sponsors but there is just a certain way of doing it. Product placement is how we mainly do it.
MediaNama: Does YouTube have any system in place to track product placement on videos?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: I think so. With partner channels that are doing numbers like ours. We stay in touch with somebody from YouTube who monitors what’s happening. YouTube India has managers who co-ordinate with partners constantly about our approach, what is coming up etc. So far, they have been in the loop for everything and so far we have had no problems with product placement.
Brand collaborations and product placement
MediaNama: What do brands expect as impact/ROI from their collaboration with you?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: Brands now come to us with the expectation that anything we touch would go viral, which I think is something that needs to be re-looked at. Often, brands forget that at the end of the day, it is a message from an advertiser. It is less likelier of that going viral than a piece of sponsored content. So now brands have started coming to us in terms of interesting content that is made for the digital medium. That’s how we work with most of them.
Brands come to us asking, can you write for us in our space. We end up writing it that way. We did something for Xbox. They came to us saying that we have launched a particular product. What content can we produce around integrating this product? We did a 4-5 minute video around the theme of gaming. We do stuff like that for brands.
MediaNama: What do you think needs to change with any brand’s approach to YouTube?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: I think the advantage with YouTube, unlike what they have done on television so far, you can target specific channels and specific people watching it. You can customize it to a great extent. What brands have started realizing is that you can buy inventory on certain channels.
Brands have the ability to spend money more accurately in a much better way than before, like plant a banner onto something. I think that is something that brands need to be very conscious of.
MediaNama: Brands today even have their own YouTube channels. How do brands have a better advantage of coming to you instead of going on their channel? Is it just your subscriber base?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: We both have different purposes. There are two aspects to it. If a video goes on their channel, to get the kind of eyeballs they want, they would have to promote the video as ads whereas for brands integrated on our channel are guaranteed a certain number of views for the amount that they spend. From what I understand, the return of investment on having a product integration in our video is also very high.
I don’t have the exact number but the math is better than running ads. The views that you get per rupee is far higher on an integrated video than necessarily on an ad. But the purpose of both is different. Brands try to have complete control over messaging. But when they advertise on our channel, they have to deal with the fact that there is only so much that they can creatively control so that’s a call that brands need to take.
MediaNama: Do you also place ads on your videos over and above these product integrations? Or do brands have exclusive deals? How does it work?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: So we tell brands that they can advertise by placing the product in the video but the creative control rests with AIB. There have also been times when the brand has not been happy with the way the product has been placed. We always take the creative call and we have worked with brands earlier where they have felt that they haven’t got the integration that they wanted.
Brands sometimes say that they want to buy ad inventory on AIB’s channel targeting the different people watching their videos. For example, I think Coupon Dunia is now advertising on different comedy channels. I don’t think this is the first time that this has happened and I don’t think this is going to be the last time that certain ads are targeting specific viewers and channels. It happens on our channel also given that we are No 1 in the space. We have had certain brands buy even the inventory for a certain period on our channel. Those deals can happen through us or through YouTube.
MediaNama: Speaking of targeting comedy channels, why do you think comedy, apart from music is doing so well as a genre on YouTube in India?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: I think there are two or three reasons. One I think, comedy is the easiest to consume and move on or it is the kind of stuff that you would share. Psychologically, that doesn’t often happen. Plus I think there are more comedy creators in general. You can’t say that comedy does better than other genres because there aren’t enough creators for say fashion or gaming. Comedy happens to have a lot of creators in the genre, which tends to make it popular.
The other is aspect is that a lot of content creators happen to be comedians or writers who have a certain following in the line. So that amplifies the product. Often with music, you need a smaller band to be discovered that happens in a measured manner than a comedy video which is snacky, easy-to-consume and quick. That happens far often because of a lot of creators.
MediaNama: Who is your target audience?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: Anyone between the ages of 18 to any age I guess, whatever the average life expectancy is. It is fairly young people and people who are sick and tired of watching television, people who like a certain quality of entertainment. I think that we primarily appeal to younger people.
MediaNama: How did your target group react to AIB’s Roast? How did the video affect you guys because the video had mixed response?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: I think the mixed response was more of a media concoction than anything else considering that the roast got 11 million hits in four days and is now being sold as CDs in certain corners of multiple metros. Whenever we have gone outside, the reaction so far has been cent percent positive. I’m yet to meet a person on the street who came to us and said what you did was terrible. If it was that bad a product, it wouldn’t have got that many views.
It is an extremely democratic medium. If you check YouTube, you will find voxpop of college students being asked if they liked the Roast or did not like the Roast. When you watch these videos, you realize that it has been so overwhelmingly positive. The reaction that we often get is, “We are with you. Go on! Don’t let this affect you.”
MediaNama: How then do you define the boundary for your sketches?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: We are absolutists when it comes to creative freedom. There is no line when we are writing. While writing sketches, our first reaction is, “There is no line”.