Two years ago, at a YouTube Fanfest, an event where netizens meet their favourite YouTube stars, there were reports that the applause and cheers for popular Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan were much less than that for online stars who followed him on the dais.
Pooja Jauhari, chief executive officer, The Glitch
As for celebrities, if they are popular, fit with the personality of the brand, and talk to the right target group, they are a definite choice. So, the larger point really is which celebrity - film or online, works for the brand in terms of its objective, larger strategy, communication, and budget. For us, we have more to choose from and that's always a great thing.
Ajay Nair, co-founder, Only Much Louder
Secondly, television, too, is slowly beginning to move - though it's still three-four years away, as Bollywood still has a massive outsized influence on television and online, too, for that matter. But, it is beginning to happen. We now get a lot more inquiries for our talent for mainstream campaigns, probably five more compared to a year ago. The safe trend to look at is the data that YouTube puts out annually. If you look at the top 10 influential US celebrities for young audiences, the first seven are YouTube stars - Kanye West is number 8! This is a secular trend, and it may take some years, but it's a matter of time.
However, online stars may never fully catch up. There's no Shah Rukh Khan coming out of that. But yes, they are complementary especially for content or ads targetted at younger audiences that have grown up with them. There are quite a few online faces starring alongside film stars, but honestly, it's not their priority as they are out almost every day online, with many having significant reach.
Devendra Deshpande, head, content+ division, Mindshare
Television overshadows digital reach by three times. If it's about a housewife in Uttar Pradesh under SEC B that I'm targetting, a star will be chosen. So, Kajol can make people aware of Kellogs, while an online celebrity chef like Ajay Chopra can help create 50 recipes from it. In well established brands, there is a halo effect where there is no awareness creation required. Everyone knows it is a toothpaste. Let's take the word 'Crispy' - it doesn't mean anything. But, get Aamir Khan to endorse 'Crispy Shirts', and then there's awareness that it's a shirt. You can then complement that with an online fashion influencer who can speak about the fabric and other features. So, the credibility of online influencers complements the mass influencers' credibility, and one is not a substitute for the other.
Subrat Kar, chief executive officer, and co-founder, Vidooly
Some recent examples include Ola's series of short Facebook videos with VJ José - his Facebook page has over 150 thousand likes; Apoorv Sood is a popular Twitter personality who has endorsed brands like Snapdeal and Good Day Cookies through his tweets, and TVF has done endorsements and product placements for Common Floor and Ola in its YouTube series.