It’s a viewer’s market & it’s here to stay: Anil K Nair, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi

Guest Column: Managing Partner, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi says newer video formats will keep emerging forcing brands & advertisers to constantly unlearn and adapt

Indians have always been an audio visual race. A land of storytelling and colour has now hooked on to Netflix and video based content fuelled by easy access to fat bandwidth and smart phones. This has gradually deconstructed the reading habit and the growth of print and magazines. Though the printed word is desperately trying to reinvent itself digitally through smaller pieces, blogs and the likes.

Getting back to the topic of content in general and branded content in particular there are other conundrums. Earlier there was a clear demarcation of content and advertising. Advertising funded content and life was simple. And everyone was happy. One rewarded good content by backing it with more advertising dollars. Consumers knew that consuming advertising was the price to pay for the nearly subsidised content that they were devouring through their idiot boxes, newspapers and radio sets.

But the smart phone and personal devices changed that dynamic for ever. Today content is going up against advertising as an option for marketers to plug brand narratives.

Now it is about personalised and granular on-demand content that can be consumed on the go as and when the viewer wants it. From storytelling to story making. And preferable co-created with the consumer.

The viewers are done with ad interruptions given the fast diminishing millennial attention spans and the glut of content available at their fingertips.

It’s a viewer’s market and it’s here to stay. What it means for advertisers is that they need newer ways to favourably reach out to their audience without pissing them off, by fitting into their lives and convenience and in newer formats that the consumer adopts. Content aggregation and distribution are growing to be bigger influencers in the proliferation of content than ownership or destination.

Formats have become like quicksand. From 3 hour movies to 30 second TVCs we are now in the world of diminishing ad utility. 15 seconders to 5 seconders are the new challenges for advertising story tellers notwithstanding the occasional IGTV kind of innovation. Newer video formats will keep emerging forcing brands and advertisers to constantly unlearn and adapt.

The trickiest part of this drama is context. Content now has to ride along with context to win favour with viewers. The context can be cultural, organic, timely, multi-faceted and subliminal. Almost metaphorically like bitter medicine coated in a sweet pill.

The consumers today are unforgiving and extremely fickle and are quick to sniff the advertising rat if it threatens to malign their content consumption mood and flow.

This has put traditional agencies in direct competition with pure play content creators who are better tuned and equipped to understand and satiate the content consumption monsters needs.

It’s also akin to the ‘nine blind men and the elephant story’ with the various players from the media agencies, creative agencies , digital platforms and the freshly sprung digital content studios all approaching this challenge from their own prism of expertise and perspective and trying to second guess the viewer and their likes and dislikes.

This pressure to amuse and entertain is throwing up newer interesting content innovations like tent-pole live events that allow for direct brand- consumer interactions or that allow co- creation of content with audiences.

The ones laughing all the way to their popcorn finally are the viewers who have the power to dismiss you with a flick of their fingers into hyper stardom or deep oblivion.

The author is the Managing Partner, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

Find out trends in the content-marketing space at the Audacity e4m Indian Content Marketing Awards 2018 (ICMA) and second edition of Content JAM, a Content Marketing Conference, set to take place on September 7.
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