Suraj Ramnath

Adobe's Ram Seshadri on the future of video

At vdonxt 2018, Seshadri, head - digital strategy and solutions, Adobe India, spoke about the challenges and opportunities for video in the Indian market.

On day one of the two-day (January 18-19) event - vdonxt asia 2018, organised by afaqs!, in Mumbai, Ram Seshadri, head - digital strategy and solutions, Adobe India, spoke about the future of video. He started off the session by explaining his team's role at the company.

Adobe's Ram Seshadri on the future of video

Ram Seshadri

Seshadri said, "What we do as part of this team is look after customers' problems and figure out, as a tech company, how we can solve those problems related to customer experiences. These customer experiences could be diverse; they could be on mobiles, websites or any digital interaction consumers have with our businesses. That's where we have a play; video is the most important and emerging area of experience we have seen in the last few years. Adobe has a significant amount of thought-leadership in terms of how we can help businesses ride the wave around video that is emerging right now."

The topic of the session was 'The video of tomorrow' and Adobe, being an experienced solutions provider, Seshadri focused on the discussion more from a user/ consumer experience point of view.

In his session, Seshadri stated that with the content and data available with him, he realised that the behaviour that was exhibited across video consumption was a huge revolution happening in terms of the video experiences being driven in India.

He continued, "When I walked out of the hotel today and got into a cab, the driver was on his phone watching a Rajinikanth flick. In a Mumbai local, commuters sitting in that train catch up on their favourite soaps or live cricket matches going on to get rid of the boredom on the journey. A very common thing that we are seeing with shop owners is that a video is continuously playing in their outlets and they are sometimes distracted by the occasional shopper that steps in. The type of video experiences/ consumption happening across India today is not just from the urban populous, there is a huge democratisation that has happened and it is primarily driven by the telco revolution that occurred in the last 12-15 months."

He added, "The way video consumption has grown, India has actually become the number one country in mobile data usage. All telcos put together propelled India's data consumption in that manner making them the largest video delivery platform on the globe. That again goes to show you the change that we are looking at in terms of video consumption. In India, we have always loved our soap operas, saas bahu dramas and movies. But the ferocious speed that we have taken to make video content available is ubiquitous; it is there anywhere, on demand at our convenience wherever we go and that's the revolution that we are seeing."

According to Seshadri, there are two things to consider when any kind of paradigm shift occurs in a particular industry. There are opportunities and there are a lot of challenges that need to be overcome.

He added "From the challenge perspective, it is always going to be that we have never been known to pay for the services we use. So paying for content is going to be a big challenge the industry has to overcome. The second challenge would be a nation of a billion, with different types of devices people have access to. The reach of video is going beyond different demographic/sociographic strata. So, again, how do you manage all the diversity of audiences and reach out and be able to drive the right video experiences for each one of them? That is going to be yet another big challenge. But obviously, the opportunity which makes India the most attractive market for a lot of the firms is the size."

Seshadri, in his session, pointed out that India has a lot of pay-TV subscribers compared to other places.

He said, "There are multiple constituents who are pulling this industry in different directions. One is the end-consumer, who wants immediate access to content, an easy way to discover or search for the right type of content and who also wants the flexibility and convenience of the content being available anywhere he/she goes and on any of the devices owned. 4G and mobile data affordability have really catalysed this moment in a much bigger manner. In the months to come, we will see a much more transformative impact of data consumption take shape and impact all of our businesses."

Talking about the other key constituent, he said, "Publishers and programmers want to understand who the audience is, what kind of content resonates with them and what is the mechanism/medium through which we will be able to reach the audience while monetising some of the efforts directly or through aggregator mechanisms."

Another point Seshadri raised in his session was that India, not being a very subscription-oriented market, advertising plays a big role in terms of how the industry can drive the business outcome. It becomes much more critical because of the diverse nature of the consumers and audiences that are out there; being able to target them with the right advertisement and make sure the money that is spent on the advertising platform has a return.

He added, "These are the three different aspects of business that we are working on and driving some of the innovations and trends that are happening. And the outcome is that we see new tech firms coming up, new technology, as well as the adoption of some technologies like programmatic buying of TV or video inventory. It is still fairly small, but going by whatever trends are happening in North America or Europe, that's a trend that's going to quickly pick up and that gives advertisers and publishers the ability to work in a much more automated manner than in a manual way."