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Hotstar launches beta version of self-service tool for advertisers

Online streaming platform Hotstar has launched a self-service ad tool to facilitate photo and video ad campaigns. The company said that “Hotstar AdServe” will allow small and medium-sized companies to harness the power of digital video at scale.

The tool is currently available in a beta version and opens advertising for IPL, for which Star recently acquired broadcasting rights. The tournament, starting April 7, will be available in 6 Indian languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bengali on Hotstar. The tool offers regional players an opportunity to scout for new markets nationally at affordable prices, Hotstar says. Ad buying options on Hotstar AdServe allow targeted communication by language and team.

The service will be expanded to include entertainment programming over the next few weeks. The platform’s Premium offering, which is subscription-based, remains ad-free.

According to the website, AdServe allows for photo, video and carousal (multiple picture) formats. These ads can be shown in-between the video, pausing it to play the ad, and then resuming video. The ads can also be placed on the website’s pages where users view content options. Ads can also include a feature where the user can be pushed for action with a click, such as visiting the advertiser’s site.

Free video streaming service YouTube has a similar automated advertising model in place. Such advertising options are now available on most social networking sites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Snapchat was the latest to get the ad tool last year.

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Online streaming could turn out be a game-changer with respect to how Indians consume content. The traditional form of TV viewership is giving way to the new segment of consumers who are choosing to consume multimedia content on-demand. This is seen in the sharp increase in video traffic: according to the consulting firm EY, India had 160 million digital video viewers at the end of 2016. Its increasing popularity will only push brands to leverage it for advertising. However, Hotstar (and other streaming platforms) are far behind YouTube, which claims to reach 80% of India’s internet audience.

Streaming services are now creating content specifically targeted at the digital users, and leveraging regional languages. Some competitors of Hotstar are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Alt Balaji, Voot, Viu, Eros Now, Sony Live, Twitch, and others.

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