We have seen 3x growth in the last five years: Gunjan Arya, OML
In conversation with exchange4media, Gunjan Arya, Managing Partner, OML, talks about the company’s journey as creators of content for OTT platforms, success of their Global Creator Network and more
From humble beginnings as an artist management firm to becoming one of India’s largest content producers for OTT platforms and brands, OML has seen a phenomenal growth since its inception.
Today, the firm has an enviable content line-up with OTT platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Zee5, Hotstar, YouTube and MX Player - over 20 long-form, scripted and unscripted shows for OTT platforms and television, 36-plus comedy specials and more than 200 short-form videos. They are the team behind some of India’s top music festivals like the NH7 Weekender and the Red Bull Tour Bus.
Some of the names in their content list includes 'Comicstaan', 'Laakhon Mein Ek', 'Pushpavalli' and 'Chacha Vidhayak Hai Humare'.
Branded content is another area of expertise - The Dewarist, Standing by with Red Bull, and Breezer Vivid Shuffle to name a few. Its latest partnership for content creation is with Zomato for the food delivery app’s foray into video content. It’s an exhaustive and impressive line-up of work. Besides winning accolades for their creative body of work, OML has also positioned itself successfully to help brands and artists collaborate through their branded solutions division.
exchange4media caught up with OML’s Managing Partner Gunjan Arya to understand what is pushing growth for the company.
“So, OML is essentially 5 parts. There's artist management, which remains at the core of everything that we do and everything in our journey has always been about how do we give the artist a bigger voice. So artist management first, then live events and production which is all our festivals. Then there's the content team, which helps artists with their production for their YouTube channels’ social media presence, etc. But along with that we’ve also become like the largest suppliers of content to Amazon in the country. We're now working with Netflix and also working with other platforms like ZEE5, MX Player or Hotstar. Then there is the brand solutions team which looks at how you can support artists through either endorsements or brand placements, or even our own IPs.
Elaborating on brand solutions, she says: “This team works with the live team to get sponsorships, or the artist team to get endorsements or brand placements in their content. And this is where we’ve traditionally been on the sell side where we're prepping these IPs or these artists to brands in India.”
Around two years ago the company started the Global Creator Network which has now placed them on the buy side. Talking about the initiative, Arya says: “It works because it checks off that necessary box in every brand manager’s matrix. So everybody knows that influencer marketing is important and you need it. But the way we've approached it is by being closer to the artists’ voice and asking them what they would like to do and then we figure out which brand sort fits in that matrix.”
Arya delves into how, using their 17 years of experience, they are able to identify the right brand for the right artist to collaborate with and that has helped deliver more efficiency for the brands than what most have seen with any of their marketing campaigns.
Today, it is subtlety in brand placement that works, believes Arya. As her advice to brands, she says: “Artists today are a combination of things, they're your face, and they are also your voice. There is no point in a brand sort of overpowering the voice of the creator that you're working with. You need to let the creator talk about your brand in their own authentic way. Today artists are also your media channels because each one of them comes with inherent distribution.”
OML’s Global Creator Network (GCN), for branded content on social media, was started in 13 countries and is now in 22 countries. It has over 187-plus content creators under its umbrella, over 2,000 pieces of short-form content and 6 long-form, multi-episodic shows in foreign languages. On what made GCN successful, she says, “No branded content anywhere in the world has trended organically. This is pure organic pull for exciting entertainment content. And to have fans say I love that. And then to have fans say I'm going to share it further, which is what makes it viral is very rare. It's a dream for a brand. And we've managed to do that because we've always been close to what the artist needs to grow. And if the artist grows the brand grows alongside and we've seen this across the world.”
On being asked whether production costs for OTT shows need to be brought down given the kind of competition one is witnessing in the OTT space, she shares how India is actually one of the cheapest places in the world to produce content, adding that it is the big budget shows, even globally, that have helped OTT platforms add users. Arya agrees that growth on OTT platforms will be driven by regional languages and at OML too they are figuring out how to do regional versions for shows and formats.
Till 5 years back, Arya reminisces, they were known for their live work and while live has grown, content too has become much larger. “Overall, as a business we have multiplied 3x in the five years and that kind of growth is something that I just hope we can keep up with,” she concluded.
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