Guest Column: Digital content is king

TV channels & movie producers are now taking their content to destination platforms such as YouTube, says Atul Sharma of Tangerine Digital

e4m by Atul Sharma
Published: May 28, 2012 6:38 AM  | 5 min read
Guest Column: Digital content is king

In the ever-changing world of digital (internet) domain, one thing is clear: any new digital innovation becomes commoditised within a short time. Given that the price range for creating similar digital solutions ranges from a few lakh rupees to a crore rupees, the question that begs to be asked is ‘what’s the difference between them?’

I’d like to elaborate this further by taking the example of an e-commerce website. An e-commerce website can be developed for as little as a few thousand rupees (using open source solutions such as Magento, Open Cart or customised vendors such as Powerstores and Martjack) to several lakh rupees. I know of a company who has several thousand products to sell, and has developed its customised website (and a decent looking one at that!) at a price of a few lakh rupees.

On the other end of the spectrum, most profiled vendors refuse to work on an e-commerce project unless the minimum billing is over Rs 25 lakh. Obviously, there is a clear difference between the programming code written for these sites – Martjack and Powerstores cannot be customised beyond a point, while the more expensive ones are customised, optimised and allow greater flexibility, security and other associated facilities. However, most experts agree that standard programming is commoditised in today’s world, which can be attributed to stiff market competition.

As the consumers grow more discerning and comfortable with the digital environment, the key differentiators that are now emerging are those elements that can never be commoditised – namely concept, design, user experience, user interface, and content (text, audio, video, and images).

In a sense, I think that ‘content’ encompasses all the above elements – the idea of the content, and how the written content is presented is as important as the content itself (in many cases). Taking our example of the website forward, the quantum of research and effort required to develop a unique concept which addresses the consumer’s needs, the right user experience, and an attractive design for the website is, frankly, daunting at times. But it is the content, comprising of an amalgamation of text, audio, video and images that really hooks the consumer, and ensures that the consumer keeps coming back for more. Furthermore, thanks to the viral elements of the digital domain (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) good content gets propagated at an exponential rate.

But does it make business sense to invest in creating high quality content? In a single word – absolutely!

Content creators such as television channels and movie producers are now taking their content to destination platforms such as YouTube, Hulu, and Metacafe in a bid to monetise their unique content, besides publishing it on their own websites and monetising it there.

In turn, online video sites such as YouTube, Yahoo! and Indiatimes (including Box TV) are scrambling after premium content owners to attract and retain traffic that comes to their site. Depending on the quality of the content, they are willing to offer significant revenue shares on the monetisation of the content and even minimum guarantee agreements.

Moreover, companies such as Hungama and VUClip are tying up with content owners to monetise their content on the mobile platform in the domestic environment, while international telecom players such as Verizon in the US and Bell in Canada are trying to monetise Indian content to tap the NRI audiences.

Since the quantum of revenue generated depends on the number of views / downloads (and key other factors) and since people decide the quality of the content, it makes sense for traditional content creators such as television channels, publishing houses, etc. to make high quality content and monetise it on multiple platforms – their traditional platform, internet and mobile.

It would be incorrect to assume that the money made from existing content is small on digital platforms. There are channels that now produce content only for the digital medium and existing players are actively taking their content to the online environment in a bid to make the few additional crore from the same content at minimal additional cost. Rajshri has taken a pioneering role in this domain, putting all its content on YouTube and garnering over a billion video views. Other channels such as Sony and Times Television Network have also put their content online and are actively monetising it.

The game has changed completely. The consumer now decides what content he wants to consume, when he wants to consume it (through destination platforms, IPTV and other digital solutions, he has the choice of watching his programme at his convenience), where he wants to consume it (on his TV, laptop, or handheld device) and how he wants to consume it (multiple versions of the same content are being created – customised for different devices and different requirements). Platforms are fast realising that they need to be where the consumer is, and not vice-versa.

It’s interesting to note that high-quality content is no longer just the requirement of media – all sectors need to present their products in the right environment. For example, a retail site like net-a-porter, produces an online magazine to promote its product range in an innovative way, and ensures that each product is accompanied with a customised product description.

Standard Chartered started an online community (India Food Explorer) on Facebook to engage its customers, and regularly updates the platform with high quality content (besides user-generated content). As people become more comfortable transacting through internet and mobile devices, organisations are paying top money to ensure that the content being created for its products is both, high quality and engaging.

It is clear that as this environment grows, more and more content owners will start ensuring that they are present on digital and mobile platforms. They will also start creating and repackaging content specifically for these platforms. Once again, the demand for quality content has gone up – once again, content is king.

The author is Vice President – Business Development, Tangerine Digital

Follow Atul Sharma @atulsharma99

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