Gaana’s Prashan Agarwal talks about the platform’s growth in 2020, the impact COVID-19 had on it, and their plans ahead for brands and users.
With people being stuck at homes and consumption of content going up, a lot changed for music streaming apps. They had to innovate and become more. Adding visuals and experiences helped them stay relevant in sync with the dynamic needs of the consumers. Subscriptions numbers and brand campaigns were a tricky space where brainstorming was done to come up with interesting ways to ensure users stay hooked. CEO Prashan Agarwal tells us about in detail Gaana’s journey through the year and what’s in store for the industry in 2021.
With a commute restriction in place, song consumption was anticipated to decrease. However, podcasts were pegged to rise. How did things unfold at Gaana? Please take us through the content consumption trends seen in the last 8 months.
It is true that during the ongoing lockdown, people have discovered newer occasions for music and podcast consumption throughout the day and night. There’s party music playing in the morning, devotional podcasts in the evening and relaxing Zen music in the afternoons, comedy all through the day, and motivation and self-help podcasts during late hours.
Gaana saw a 13% rise in music consumption across India, with a notable 12% spike in romantic playlist streams across all age groups and 14% increase in devotional playlists — even among 18-24-year-olds. Besides romance and spirituality, there has been a whopping 26% surge in workout playlists as people are bringing their gyms home and a 24% surge in motivational or self-help podcasts as they are keeping themselves focused to power through the odds.
Going forward, what will be your content strategy?
We believe India being a land of diverse cultures and what better way than music to bring that to the fore. With this philosophy, we will continue to work on promoting regional music and getting our users to access the beautiful sounds of our countryside. Alongside we are helping promote non-film music with Gaana Originals and Gaana Launchpad where are give artists the reach and distribution equivalent to a Bollywood film.
How did brands react to changing consumer behaviour? Who are the biggest spenders on the app? How much per cent of your total revenue is generated from advertising?
Ad revenue contributes 55-60% of the revenue. Growth will be muted this year due to the impact of Coronavirus. We worked to add 140 new brands in the last 6 months from categories such as OTTs (Video OTTs), M&E, Headsets, FMCG, Retail, and E-commerce. CPMs had taken a beating across the Industry in the first 3-4 months of the pandemic. However, now the CPMs have revived to Pre-Covid levels. Dynamic Audio, Voice Dialog, Branded Podcasts, Vertical Videos, and Gaana Live among others to engage advertisers and offer them innovative ways to tap into our rapidly growing user-base.
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When it comes to the audio OTT industry, how do brands approach advertising in this arena? Do Indian brands grasp the concept of Audio OTT advertising well?
Audio streaming is yet to become a part of the more ‘mainstream’ media plans. However, as the scale and influence of the audio OTT sector grow, more brands are likely to open up to our huge inventory of audio ads. Secondly, in our experience, a well-executed audio ad campaign added on top of a traditional media campaign increases overall awareness scores by a significant margin, and more advertisers should experiment with this medium to augment their ongoing brand-building efforts.
Gaana introduced HotShots earlier this year, how has the response been so far? Have creators and the general audience migrated to the app? Who is your core TG for the feature?
There has been an unprecedented amount of creativity that has been unleashed on the HotShots platform with more than 300,000 creators joining the platform within a few weeks of launch. Besides our world-class product, an array of premium influencers & artists such as Neha Kakkar, Riyaz Aly, Darshan Raval, Avneet Kaur, Awez Darbar, Jannat Zubair, Sunanda Sharma have got us off to a flying start.
As an audio app by nature, how does HotShots fit in Gaana’s core personality? What is your objective from this feature? Is it open for brands?
At Gaana, we already had Gaana Videos — short video PGC content to help the singer community connect with our user base since last year. One of the primary use cases of erstwhile short video platforms was the promotion of music and they helped break out songs. Given that we have the technology backbone of a short video in place, a powerful machine learning engine for music recommendations, and deep relationships with artists, comedians, lifestyle celebs, choreographers, storytellers for promotions & podcasts, Gaana is best placed to lead the short video revolution in the country.
Our intention to expand into short video content is in line with our overarching vision to be an entertainment super app with audio at the core of user engagement.
In a media interview, you had mentioned that there has been a spike in subscribing consumers. Do you think the Indian users are finally open to premium audio content? AVOD, SVOD & premium — what works best in the Indian market? How do you see the trend progress in the coming months?
Paid subscriptions have seen consistent growth during the last 6 months. We find there is a set of users who are willing to pay for quality and relevant services and content — be it video or audio. However, by and large – from a market perspective, India will continue to be a hybrid market where the majority of users will prefer AVOD. However, we are launching a pay per listen or on-demand content that AVOD users can pay per usage for example – specific podcasts and live shows on demand.
What does 2021 look like for Gaana – in terms of content, audience, and brand advertising
Our goal is to cross 250 Mn MAU within this financial year, tapping into the potential for increased advertising revenues on the back of customised branding solutions. We will continue to innovate newer ad formats to help our brand partners reach their intended audience in a native and experiential setting.
We have been growing aggressively in the past 3 years and we will continue to chase aggressive targets in the future as well. Our priority is to ensure our brands are able to reach out to our 185 million users in a brand-safe and engaging manner.