Venkata Susmita Biswas

Amazon miniTV key for video ads on shopping app

The premium ad-supported content offering on Amazon’s shopping app, was launched in India about a year ago.

In May 2021, Amazon introduced a free, ad-supported video streaming services on its shopping app in India - miniTV. The e-commerce giant has since partnered with content creators, like Ashish Chanchlani and Prajakta Koli, as well as production houses like Pocket Aces and TVF.

Its latest launch is Case Toh Banta Hai, a courtroom comedy series. Girish Prabhu, head of Amazon Advertising, speaks to afaqs! about the value miniTV brings to advertisers and more.

Edited excerpts:

What prompted you to launch mini TV in India?

The way people consume content, is changing. With the Covid-19 pandemic, and even before that, the patterns have shifted to a lot of individualised watching; whether it is on phones, tablets or other devices.

The other pattern we noticed, is that a lot of our customers worldwide are augmenting, free entertainment along with their subscriptions. Amazon Prime Video is one such example.

We deliver to 99% of India's pin codes and have an engaged customer base. So, why not bring entertainment to that customer base?

Users come to the shopping app with the intent to purchase. Doesn't providing entertainment also risk distracting them?

Our main tenet is customer choice. Customers do come with the intent to shop, but with Pay and miniTV, we've seen that customers are open to other experiences.

We have customers coming to miniTV to watch a particular show that we are promoting. And, we have seen patterns of re-engagement with the content. For instance, there are customers who come at specific hours in the day to watch miniTV.

How is the shopping app of the future going to look different from what we have today?

I won't be able to comment on the user experience on Amazon shopping in future. From a miniTV standpoint, we are working on innovations to bring personalised and interactive content. The personalisation element can open doors for new experiences.

Another area of focus is creating the ability for our customers to engage with brands in a more native manner. You could imagine newer formats along those lines.

Amazon has become a lot more than shopping, and that’s what excites us. Hence, the reason to continue to build things like Amazon Payments, miniTV and so on and so forth.

What are the different ways in which brands can leverage miniTV?

There are sponsorships, for instance, Noise and Campus are sponsors for the latest Amazon miniTV show Case Toh Banta Hai.

We work very closely with the production houses to create original content. So, that gives us the opportunity to work with brands to bring experiences to our customers in a meaningful manner. Our main focus is to have immersive experiences for our advertising partners.

We do not yet give consumers any benefits when they watch shows, in terms of coupons or points. However, over a period of time, we will imagine new experiences for our customers. Our focus is on making the experience more native to the content. We are investing in bringing new advertising products to brands.

From a video advertising standpoint, mini TV is going to be a very important experience for brands.

Do you have plans to introduce miniTV in other emerging markets like India?

We already have a similar ad-supported experience in the US and UK under the brand Amazon FreeVee. It's very popular in those markets. So, yes, this is a format that we are very serious about. We see a lot of interesting engagement and opportunities to bring new content to customers on the shopping app and living room devices, such as Fire TV and the mobile web experience.

We feel that this pattern is very relevant, not just in India, but globally as well.

There’s a heavy focus on comedy content on miniTV. What are the content genres and formats you are investing in?

We have a very robust slate and are working across different genres, comedy being one of them. We have at least 6-7 genres that we're experimenting with. These are genres that are interesting to the target audience, which is in the 18-34 age group.

We have short-format content, 20-30 minute short films and web series on miniTV. Short films, for instance, are actually a very popular category on miniTV. These short films have very good completion rates. We are excited that different formats work and the same customer who watches a short film, can also watch a series.

We have noticed that customers come back to watch episodes every week on a shopping app. It is both surprising and unsurprising in a way, because the Amazon shopping app is pretty much part of the daily lives of many people.

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