Short- form video apps

The Short-form Video Platforms Landscape in India & Our Recipe to Market for Them

Since September 2016 when TikTok launched in India, short-form video platforms have taken over the country by storm. The phenomenon began with Vine, the first short-from video platform that introduced the creation of 6-second videos and disrupted the video market. A study1 by the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, revealed that the average attention span of human beings is now around 8 seconds which is just 2 seconds more than that of a goldfish. Moreover, successful consumption of information is one of the triggers of the release of dopamine that mediates pleasure in the brain. Additionally, this also creates a feedback loop that encourages people to repeat the actions that provide this pleasure.

Hence, even after the ban announced by the Indian government on TikTok and 59 other apps in 2020, short-form video consumption is still on the rise.

Short-form Video Consumption is projected to reach 650 million users by 2025 from a base of 350 million users in 2020.

Source: Indian Express

After TikTok, the void was filled by Indian short-form video platforms like Zili, Moj, MXTakatak, etc. along with some of the global social platforms like YouTube and Instagram who added special short-form video products to their arsenal and engaged an already established userbase.

Average daily usage in minutes for short video apps

Market Share & Landscape

When TikTok was active in India till June 2020, it enjoyed over 80% of the market share. However, towards the end of 2020, Indian homegrown platforms occupied ~40% of the void left by TikTok. By June 2021, ~97% of the void had been captured by Indian apps. But what are these apps, and which of them see the maximum usage?

Source : Statista

Upon witnessing the growth in popularity of short-form videos, global giants such as Instagram and YouTube released their short-form video products in the form of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. This definitely was a move in the right direction. For example, Instagram downloads saw an 11.4% increase post the launch of Reels. Even the avg. time spent by Indian users increased by 3.5%. However, in the larger scheme of things, these platforms do not come close to the user-base that is seen by homegrown apps.

To understand this, we need to deep dive into the actual consumer details and understand why they prefer homegrown platforms over globally established platforms.

language based consumption over the years

Source : Livemint

On the other hand, platforms such as Instagram and YouTube are more popular in metro cities. And users in metro cities are keener on English content. Thus, in terms of volumes, the non-metro population is higher and hence the affinity towards homegrown short-form video platforms is higher. The chart below can shed some light on this.

metro cities, tier 1 cities and tier 2 cities comparison on type of content people consume


Building Blocks for Short-form Video Marketing

When it comes to marketing for such platforms, the acquisition strategy needs to have a strong foundation across multiple pillars such as platform innovation, push marketing, pull marketing, and long-term stickiness.

At Performics, we have had the fortune to work with some of the leading short-form video formats around the world including TikTok, Lomotif, and Hipi.

A full-funnel approach to market for these platforms can be summarized into the following building blocks:

full funnel approach to market short form video platform

1. Platform Features & Innovation

At this time there are 10+ short-form videos operating in India. Since the basic principle and offering remain the same, the plethora of features and platform innovations become the deciding factor for people to opt for a particular platform. Bear in mind, that features can be split into 2 buckets. Features for consumers such as algorithm efficiency, shareability, and peer-to-peer communication. And features for content creators such as video filters, reach targeting, shop/ commerce integration, etc. that will allow you to have the right influencers onboard on the platform.

For example, in the case of Hipi which was a new entrant in the short-form video market in India the feature that was unique was the ability to online shop for outfits and accessories that are seen in trending short videos. This feature was focused on in marketing and advertising communication to drive more subscribers to the platform.

2. Leveraging Influencers

Owing to the popularity of short-form videos, popular content creators are nothing short of celebrities in today’s world. And the fastest way to grow your user base to is onboard the right creators as they come with a horde of followers to witness their content. Striking partnerships with these influencers and making it lucrative for them to establish a presence on the platform is a cornerstone of the user acquisition and marketing plan.

3. Push Marketing

To reach out to larger audiences push marketing on social and content platforms is a no-brainer. And as established earlier, people are constantly on the lookout for dopamine-triggering content. But a successful push marketing campaign has 3 important components. Audience and demographic targeting, which we discussed to some extent in the beginning, is the communication that needs to feature the right message and plug-in past data and learnings such as look-alike and custom audiences that have previously worked for your advertising effort. Reach out to us to discuss our approach and success stories on this front that can help your brand.

Moreover, considering the competition in India for short-form video apps, there is a need for a strategy to increase user retention. We achieve this using DCO (Dynamic Creative Optimization) which helps in personalized dynamic ads. Ask us about wins and success stories around DCO!

4. Pull Marketing Mix of Paid & Marketing

The lowest hanging fruit is of course onboarding the people who are actively looking for a platform like yours on search engines like Google. There are 2 important pillars.

  1. Bidding for the right keywords and
  2. Optimize your web platform to rank organically for the relevant keywords.

In any case, the first piece of the puzzle is to conduct comprehensive keyword research to identify how your target audience is searching for the likes of you and where the potential lies.

From an organic standpoint, it is also very essential to have a technically sound and search-engine-friendly web platform. Historically short video platforms are known to use web technologies that are not best for search engine discoverability. Moreover, considering the scale at which pages get created, there is a need for an efficient way to get the platform crawled and indexed by search engines like Google.

For TikTok India achieved 80% growth in organic traffic and 50% increase in app installs increasing organic visibility on search engines for key category and interest-based keywords.

5. ASO & App Optimization

While the web is a great medium to drive people to the app, increasing the app visibility on App stores (both android and iOS) is a necessary pillar in your performance marketing strategy. ASO allows you to optimize your app profile pages so that your app profile starts ranking on Play Store and App Store for relevant search queries. Moreover, smartly deploying A/B testing experiments on various textual and visual elements of the profile such as titles, descriptions, and screenshots helps you move the needle on the install rate of your app.

However, a well-rounded ASO strategy is way beyond just optimizing app profile elements. It also involves reviews & sentiment management, app quality control such as speed, size, and crashes, and also localization considering non-English users are the primary drivers of short-form video platforms. Get in touch with us for a walkthrough of our ASO and app marketing techniques.


All said and done, short-form videos are the future of video content, and they are definitely here to stay. However, with stiff competition and constantly evolving consumer needs and preferences, marketing for short-form video platforms poses a unique challenge that requires robust experience, agility, and a thirst for experimentation. If you are a video platform looking for a marketing partner to take this challenge head-on, we would be more than happy to discuss more over a cup of coffee!

Reach out to us at to kick-start the conversation!


Almog Ramrajkar (Director – Performics India)

Almog has 10+ years of performance marketing experience across industries including media, FSI, CPG, telecom & travel.


  1. Attention span during lectures: 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or more?

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