Adapt, Transform and Sustain: Fundamentals of a future-ready business: Deepak Lamba, WWM
Guest Column: The CEO of Worldwide Media on systematically investing in both, the right technology and resources, in order to ensure continuous and profitable growth
The media industry is always an exciting place to be in, given how it always brings in fresh and exciting challenges and simultaneously opens a world of opportunities and pathways to overcome those hurdles. Having worked in the industry for more than 18 years, I have been humbled to witness and, be part of this whirlwind phenomenon that significantly contributed towards placing India on a global map. Staying true to its character of being an early adopter of changes, the industry has been at the forefront of embracing digitization. The not-so-recent digital disruption certainly caught the attention of all entities in its wake - the consumers, brands and corporates alike. The evolving landscape gave impetus to Worldwide Media’s renewed vision of being a digital-first and a platform-agnostic entertainment and lifestyle content company.
Today, having successfully led the transformation of a well-flourished group in the publishing space, to being recognized as a leading content player, we are on our way towards achieving our vision. It was only a matter of leveraging a plethora of expertise within, rather than looking outside and forming a team of experts to optimally utilize the existing assets and resources that many of our brands possess. We identified various demand and supply gaps and laid out a concise solution with a strategic route of leveraging our iconic brands in two ways:
1 - Expanding our existing IPs on to the digital and TV platforms as well as launching new IPs
2 - Building on the content expertise of Worldwide Media’s brands for branded content
Growing IPs and brand reach
Over the last three years, when it all began, we have witnessed a positive transformation across our business pillars. The growing number of digital IPs, web and TV shows and, brand integrations with long-form and short-form content stand testimony to this successful journey. While, the print medium, due to its nature, had its own set of challenges, we have been able to overcome those by providing a multi-platform solution to the advertisers. Two years ago, as a part of our vision, we launched Femina.in. The digital platform today generates 70mn+ page views every month. It was soon followed by the launch of Femina Hindi considering the demand for the type of content we generate amongst the Hindi speaking audience. This, along with the existing editions in Bangla and Tamil, expanded Femina’s reach in the regional content space.
The same year, Filmfare Short Film Awards were launched which created a legacy of sorts with 9mn+ impressions. The second edition added to the success of the property with a 50% growth in the number of entries received and a 27% increase in the overall impressions. It was a year of many firsts as Filmfare partnered with Facebook and Twitter for a live booth on the Red Carpet, a first for any awards. A live booth was set up on the red carpet that was well equipped with a video and audio output for interaction with the stars. The social media integration on the red carpet with the ‘Twitter Mirror’ allowed the celebrities to take “selfies” of themselves in front of the checkered branding simply by tapping the screen and signing them. The photo was then sent out to the event’s Twitter feed, driving a huge number of re-tweets and comments. The activity garnered 156 million impressions and 27 Million videos views on Facebook. The awards trended globally on Twitter with 10 million+ impressions in 2 hours on the platform. The partnership has been a huge success, such that the second year witnessed a 52% increase in the total number of video views and a 41% increase in the overall impressions. On the back of this partnership with Twitter, we stand amongst twitter’s top 50 global entertainment partners.
The entertainment industry connects millions of audiences every year across the length and breadth of the country. We tapped this as an opportunity to bring movie enthusiasts closer to their favourite celebrities by converting Filmfare Awards IP into a ticketed event, thereby generating a new revenue stream altogether from a six-decade-old property. It was also made available on television for the millions of other viewers. Along with the digital expansion, Filmfare Awards in addition to the well-established Filmfare Awards South, has further expanded its reach geographically with the launch of Filmfare Awards Marathi, East and Punjabi editions.
Content marketing wins
The platform-agnostic strategy was strengthened subsequently with brand integrations and, long-form and short-form content that would comfortably sit across web and television. The launch of ‘Famously Filmfare,’ a chat show on Colors Infinity and Jio TV, ‘Nexa Journeys on AH1’ on Discovery Network, ‘The GoodHomes Show’ on TLC, ‘The Secret Ingredient’ with Michelin and TopGear and Grazia–‘The Intern Diaries’ web series bolstered the image of Worldwide Media as a premium content company. This accelerated conversations with brands and advertisers with an increase in the overall ad revenue through digital content alone. Leveraging the content capabilities at Worldwide Media, some of the noteworthy brand integrations in the short-form content space were created, such as the ‘Non-Stop Ride’ by TopGear for TVS Victor, Grazia's association with Magnum, Filmfare - Flipkart Celeb and Influencer videos as well as ‘Influencer Connect’ by Femina for Vaseline Sun + Pollution protection among others.
As I write this column, we have just finished the production of our new English fiction series, as well as wrapped up over 60 episodes of Famously Filmfare in regional languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi and, Punjabi. Also, our first Hindi fiction show is being researched with consumers. The future looks busy and bright!
The cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work in the dynamic media industry. Having worked on both the sides – sales and brand, over the years, I have leveraged my experience to add more volume to the business by providing effective brand solutions to clients with content solutions that appeal to both, the consumers and the advertising partners. The deep insights that our brands possess about their respective domains, combined with the company’s unique strength to be able to cross-promote different brands amongst each other’s TGs and thereby drive incremental viewership, definitely propel the business towards robust growth. In order to be able to sustain any business through a phase of disruption, it becomes imperative to identify growth areas for the future, and then systematically invest in both, the right technology and resources, in order to ensure continuous and profitable growth.
(The author is CEO, Worldwide Media)
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