40% of our revenues come from IPs like OK Tested & Unscripted: Rishi Pratim Mukherjee
Rishi Pratim Mukherjee, Co-founder & COO at ScoopWhoop Media, says data enables them to figure out what topics are trending on the search and social media
Widely popular among the millennial and Gen Z, ScoopWhoop Media has managed to strike the right chord with its quirky and out-of-box content. Popular for its viral in-house content and videos, this new-age media company took the path less travelled to give the audiences a new way of consuming news. The Indian content generating and sharing website has come a long way since 2013, and doesn’t seem to settle for less.
In a candid conversation with exchange4media, Rishi Pratim Mukherjee, Co-founder & COO at ScoopWhoop Media, opens up on how ScoopWhoop has managed to engage its audiences, fighting fake news, its brand collaborations, digital campaigns, news dissemination matrix, future plans and more.
What according to you has worked for ScoopWhoop Media?
Creating original content in-house: When we started off, we were largely limited to curating topical social content based on data and trends. However, as we evolved, we realised that the true strength of a media company comes not only from the curation of content but more from the original content created in-house which ultimately helps in forging what the brand stands for.
Investing in our in-house talent: Our anchors and faces have become highly popular and recognisable today. This is the result of all the efforts that we have put in creating content around them and ensuring that our in-house talents drive the content we create and themselves become an alternate distribution channel for us.
Creating strong IPs and programmes: Investments in IPs such as OK Tested (non-fiction video IP on real-life experiences, challenges, quizzes, cook-offs etc.) and Unscripted (non-fiction video IP featuring documentaries, news coverage, vox pops, unfiltered interviews with actors and politicians) have paid off for us in a big way as 40% of our monthly revenues now come from these bets which were envisioned in last 18-24 months. Anchors who feature on these IPs have now become household names.
Focus on insights backed by data: Each element of decision making has its roots in data and it continues to be our primary feedback tool. To that effect, we’re continuously finetuning our data collection and data science and seeing how we can be even more data-dependent in decision making.
Strong emphasis on monetisation and unit economics: Media is a tough business. We realized early on that for staying strong and competitive, having a strong handle on monetisation and being unit economics wise were non-negotiable. From pioneering the market in branded content to optimising deliverables for our clients in terms of their expectations be it branded content or media publishing, we continue to strive to make our business shock-proof through strong economics fundamentals built into the business.
The brand is known for its sticky content, be it video, web-series, documentaries or current affairs reporting. Is there a formula to sticky content?
Quality: Creating sticky content and a credible media brand depends on the continual creation of high-quality content that is well researched and has a certain look and feel that appeals to your audience. This has been created in-house by ScoopWhoop.
Data: Editorial content needs to be data-informed and editorial teams need to be constantly looking not only at micro trends but also at a macro level to stay ahead of the curve. Sometimes data challenges your core beliefs and in those times, it always makes sense to go with the data.
Platform understanding: Since a lot of our content resides and is distributed across various major social media platforms, a deep understanding of their dynamics is essential in creating platform-specific sticky/engaging content.
Audience understanding: Understanding of audience that you are targeting and their usage habits of the medium is also very important in shaping editorial decisions when it comes to creating sticky/engaging content.
How does one select news for dissemination and engagement? Is there any matrix involved?
Data enables us to figure out what topics are trending on search and social, and what is driving curiosity of our TG, which is the 18-35-year-old segment. And even in a more granular manner, we know what sub-topics garner what percentage of affinity from our TG which is derived from the past content performance. If the news falls into these parameters, it gives a clear signal that this type of content will perform well in terms of page views and engagement.
How would you define viral content? Do you think the content that gets viral is good content? What according to you is good content?
In a nutshell, viral content is any content which has a high view to share ratio at scale and this ratio is usually attained in a highly compressed time frame.
Not all viral content is necessarily ‘good’ content as there is a tendency that even fake news or objectionable content follows these patterns of going ‘viral’ and we have seen many examples of this all around us. A lot of content from TV news & entertainment channels which make their way to digital are prime examples of viral content that isn’t necessarily ‘good’. Usually, these are poorly researched, biased and sustain harmful stereotypes.
Good content is what is well researched, authentic and does not seek to misguide or misinform the reader or viewer in any manner while at the same time is not boring or banal in its presentation.
With the increase in online traffic and digital getting a major push, how does the brand keep the authenticity of news? How does it tackle fake news crisis?
We are not in the business of breaking news and that means we give our writers and editors ample time to verify the authenticity of a story. We have writers and editors from top schools of media and journalism with rich experience in established newsrooms. Our rigorous editorial checks ensure we have fool-proof fact-checking in place.
Brands are betting big on digital now. What kind of brands are associated with ScoopWhoop? How has the bent of advertisers changed for digital media?
ScoopWhoop has associated with major brands that target the 18-35-yr-old demographic in India across categories like Media & Entertainment, FMCG, Mobile handsets, e-commerce, fintech & digital wallets, auto, health & fitness, dating apps, education, hospitality, fashion and beauty etc.
What we have witnessed over the years is that traditional offline brands, especially in categories like FMCG, consumer durables, real estate, auto etc, have forayed into digital media and branded content has begun to become an important part of their digital media mix and not just hard-core performance marketing as was the case 2-3 years back. A lot of these brands are also starting to look beyond television to engage with 18-35 yr TG that has stopped watching traditional TV.
Talking about digital campaigns, would you like to talk about some of the most noticed campaigns?
I would like to talk about one of the most talked-about digital campaigns by ScoopWhoop, which was called “Living Through The Pandemic: A Barber’s Story”. In partnership with Gillette, we had curated a video to talk about the condition of the grooming industry which bore the maximum brunt during the lockdown. The campaign was widely noticed and appreciated by the masses.
What is the broad content consumption trends witnessed in recent times?
Interactive content has revolutionised content consumption. Apps like TikTok, Reels on Instagram etc have ensured that millennials and Gen Z don’t just want to consume content but wish to be a part of that content as well and with tools available on these apps, creating quality UGC has become truly democratised
Netflix’s ‘are you still watching?’ feature evidence of an audience that is hooked onto various platforms at the same time, discovering and watching the latest hit series while browsing through social media sharing memes etc and interacting with friends.
OTTs have (almost) killed traditional TV. Appointment viewing has given way to omnipotent viewing of any time anywhere on any screen (casting, smart TVs etc).
There is a quality of engagement and the quantity of engagement. As there are so much content and distraction for the user today, high-quality relevant content keeping the user hooked has become a higher currency than simply quantitative vanity metrics like total views etc. Way more important are things like organic views, video completion rates, avg watch time, quality of user comments etc. to truly measure the efficiency of the content.
Keeping in mind the rapid changes in the digital diaspora, what does the future have in store for digital media?
I strongly feel media distribution platforms will start recognizing the value of quality and credibility in content creation, be it news or entertainment.
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