The theme for IMPACT’s eighth anniversary issue ‘The age of personalisation’ is centred on a phenomenon that pervades just about every activity in the ad-media-marketing domain: brands initiating conversations with the consumer and making him or her feel unique and special. Marketers now think of the individual or perhaps small groups or ‘tribes’ while charting a brand’s course and bring about targeted communication. Media vehicles too customise or narrowcast content so that they deliver to marketers a niche group of ready consumers who can be targeted with advertisements.
“More than trying to personalise the content or product, you have to try to understand the consumer; get a very nuanced, granulated and specific perception of his mind,” said Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India. “As of now, we have very generic understanding. We have to ask whether we echoing our viewers’ thoughts. If a programme embodies, exercises and plays what is going on in everybody’s hearts, as in the case of Satyamev Jayate, it is personalisation of the media in a great way. Media is all about impact. Nothing else matters. It is important to influence 10 lives than inform 10 million.”
The world of niche channels
In the domain of television, there was a time when people had no choice but to watch Doordarshan. Now there are hundreds of channels – all competing brands – vying to catch the consumer’s attention. These are devoted to increasingly niche content such as food, music, action, movies, comedy, etc. – not only in English and Hindi, but in every regional language possible. Even within a mainstream general entertainment channel, we have content for kids, youth, men and women, as well as ones ‘personalised’ for specific groups such as single moms, parents of teens or divorcees. Ditto for a business channel that has content meant for different domains of the industry. On the sports front too, there is niche content on channels devoted to a particular sport like golf or cricket, and even a mix of entertainment and sports on a channel. This situation also allows marketers to reach out to a niche audience easily.
Change in nature of content
Television news is still being put out like a mass product, and not much personalisation is possible in the genre beyond a point. But personalisation has happened in that the nature of news has changed. Channels now do stories that people relate to. So when a child falls into a manhole, it is a story. Fifteen years back, it wouldn’t even make a one-line mention in a newspaper. “Today it is big because a lot of people would say ‘That could also happen to me’. That is a great tide of personalisation,” said Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now.
In the GEC space, Ekta Kapoor in a way brought personalisation into TV programming by understanding the saas-bahu conflict in most households in India, and weaving successful shows around this insight. Other channels followed suit, with family dramas, comedy and crime. The way TV is exploring the digital medium is also personalisation. People can download clips on their mobiles and interact with the brand on social media. Watching TV on internet is already popular and will become a legal and structured platform from the broadcaster’s point of view very soon.
Apps created around GEC characters are widely available across operating platforms, where people can talk to them, see them, tickle them, enjoy a joke with them... Besides, with digitisation, TV consumers will be able to choose the particular channels they want to watch, to suit their personal tastes.
Rules of engagement change
As marketers shift their attention to tier II and tier III cities, seeing these markets as the next consumption hubs, they are tailoring their communication to suit the regional consumer. So a TVC made for national television is often dubbed in at least 10 or more local languages to directly address the consumer in a familiar language. As advertisers learn the benefits of marketing their products aggressively to the individual consumer, the consumer too feels as if the brand is talking with him or her in mind.
The rules of engagement are, therefore, changing. Brands are coming up with one-on-one engagement strategies that are not only relevant, but at the same time drive scale and return on investments.
Consumers too are evolving – with changing media consumption habits – and there is a great need to engage them across platforms and experiences, involving and integrating traditional and new media. Media companies have to provide more touch-points to engage with them, with on-ground and web activities for one-on-one advertising along with print and television.