Guest Column: Nothing can help build a brand better than effective social networking: Marketing Professors, IFIM Business School

The adoption of smartphones by all sections of the society has triggered popularity of social media popularity and marketers have to utilise this to enhance brand reach, acceptance and thereby help the brand image

Dr. R Satish Kumar, Dr. N Chandrasekhar 14-December-2017

Social media marketing is an engagement with various social media tools or any other online collaborative media to generate exposure, opportunity and sales. Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites. Social networking sites allow individuals to interact with one another and build relationships. When products or companies join those sites, people can interact with the product or company. These interactions seem personal to users because of their previous experiences with social networking sites.

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and blogs allow individual followers to “retweet” or “repost” comments made by the product being promoted. Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions. For instance, Twitter is a social site designed to let people share short messages or “updates” with others. Facebook, in contrast is a full-blown social networking site that allows for sharing updates, photos, joining events and a variety of other activities. Digital space allows existing customers to respond and address potential customers who may have concerns.

Let us assume a car brand Honda is being used by an existing customer Y for a few years and X is a potential customer for the same brand but has certain concerns. There does exist a possibility of these issues which Y would have experienced and would be in a better position to address the concerns of X. It is akin to a customer addressing the concerns of a potential buyer. A number of brands use the digital space in this manner to evoke better customer conversion rates. Many brands like Toyota, Renault, Fiat etc. in this sector have even introduced their own apps that helps promotion through addressing the concerns and affinity for the brand.

By repeating the message, all connected users are able to see the message, thereby reaching more people. Social networking sites act as virtual word of mouth. Because of the dissemination of information about the product through social networking sites, products/companies can have conversations and interactions with individual followers. This personal interaction can instil a feeling of belonging for followers and potential customers. Also, by choosing whom to follow on these sites, products can reach a very segmented audience. Social networking is a wonderful tool for establishing a brand. A reputed brand always commands highest recall value among the consumers. And in today’s context, nothing can help build a brand better than social networking. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, WhatsApp and Friend Feed, etc. have proved crucial in building a strong brand name. These social networking sites are extremely useful in promoting company products/services. People with a website, blog or online business can do much better for themselves by using above mentioned networking sites.

Social media as a marketing communication tool would enable companies to reach and communicate with existing and potential customers. Brands can leverage the digital space by customising their communications to generate further user interest and also convert potential customers into users. The digital communication is very economical despite its global reach. The cultural and language barriers are torn down by using a translation app. Companies can form homogeneous groups that have common interest with the brands. Brand can crowd source the public opinions by initiating conversations among the group members. The digital space can effectively be used as Customer Relationship Management tool and for customer queries and complaints. With reach and speed, the brand communication can bring in faster response rates. This in turn leads to extremely proactive marketing. This is the unique power of the digital space.

Social Media Campaign

The objective is to build brand loyalty and relationships. Components of Social Network campaign are being part of the conversation fostering dialogue on social networks, shift in power from brand to consumer, building relationships with users on social networks, E-commerce functionality on social network, such as Facebook, Viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing, Social network campaign Management is done through profile monitoring of fans turning on/against brands and empowered fans. Research findings indicate that a brand must use transparent communication. Here users do not want to purchase products and services via the profile page. Brands and marketers must listen to their friends/fans and any brand can benefit from social networks. It is essential for marketers to engage users far beyond the first transaction. User comments and suggestions offer real value. Great creativity is the key to effective engagement. Social ads help to build relationship between brand and the user. Loyalty and trust are the key metric not the friends or fans.

Social Media Future Challenges

Social media, once the domain of younger, tech-savvy consumers, has gradually entered the main stream and covers the broad demographic spectrum. Although the intensity of usage is very high in metros and urban areas; in the recent past the social media is becoming increasingly popular among rural masses also. The adoption of smartphones by all sections of the society has triggered the social media popularity and marketers have to utilise this to enhance brand reach, acceptance and thereby help the brand image. Almost all social media campaigns are too generic. It’s the need of the hour to come out with innovative and interesting social media campaigns to benefit the digital space.

(The authors are Dr. R. Satish Kumar, Professor-Marketing and Dr N. Chandrasekhar, Professor- Marketing at IFIM Business School, Bengaluru)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

Professor-Marketing from IFIM Business School, Bengaluru.

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The Maddies 2018 jury meet focuses on impact to select winners

The jury meet on Monday was led by Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Capital

exchange4media News Service 1 hour ago

Maddiesjury

The Maddies, exchange4media group's annual awards property that honours the best work in mobile advertising, is back. On Monday, the jury, led by Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Capital, screened through 180 entries, on the basis of concept, innovation and execution, to select the winners. But the main focus was impact and the results.

 

The other members in the jury were Nandan Srinath, Director Response at Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd - The Times of India Group; Kavita Chaturvedi, Head of Marketing & Executive Committee Member, ITC Limited, (Foods Division); Asha Kharga, Chief Marketing Officer, Axis Bank; Gurmit Singh, former VP and MD, Yahoo India; Kaacon Sethi, Chief Corporate Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group; Dippak Khurana, Co-founder and CEO, Vser; Ramakrishnan Laxman, Head of Digital Business, ABP LIVE; Rameet Arora, COO and Head of Digital, HT Digital Streams; Abdul Khan, CEO, 4 Marketing Technology Venture; Anshul Punhani, Chief Marketing Officer-APAC and Gulf, Monster; Navin Khemka, CEO, South Asia, Mediacom; Abraham Alapatt, Group President, Head - Marketing, Service Quality & Innovation, Thomas Cook; Kedar Teny, SR VP, Marketing and OAP, Sony Pictures Networks; and Harshit Desai, Lead-Digital Tranformation, KPMG.


The winners were selected through an extensive selection process. Jury members independently inspected each entry and rated them based on their respective judging criteria.

Talking about the meet, Srinivasan shared that he was fortunate to be with “smart people with great experience and understanding of both the marketing space as well as the mobile marketing space.” He said he was impressed with the entries.

 

Talking about the entries further, he said, “The entries were a mixed bag; both cutting-edge and some which could have been better. I think we should get a little sharper in defining the entries. Some entries figured in too many categories. So we needed to be sharper with which category the entries were into. It was a very efficient jury process. We were able to easily identify the winners,” he mentioned.

According to Rameet Arora, the quality of entries in the ‘gender equality’ category was truly outstanding, educative and empowering.  
“We had a tough time judging it,” he said. He added, “The conversations in the jury and our ability to separate the wheat from the chaff to pick out the deserving winners were quite fantastic.”

Maddies will be held on October 31.

 

For more details, click here: https://e4mevents.com/the-maddies-awards-2018/

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Reliance to soon acquire controlling stake in Hathway, DEN: Reports

Reports say that RIL is likely to own more than 25 per cent each in the two companies, giving it the ability to control developments and get a seat on the board

exchange4media News Service 2 hours ago

mukesh ambani

Reliance Industries is soon expected to buy controlling stakes in what are two of India’s largest cable TV and broadband service providers, Hathway Cable & Datacom and DEN Networks, say media reports. The move comes at a time when  RIL is all set to ramp up coverage of Jio GigaFiber. 

Reports say that RIL is likely to own more than 25 per cent each in the two companies, giving it the ability to control developments and get a seat on the board. The deal is expected to be announced in the next few days. Both companies have told the stock exchanges that the respective boards are meeting on October 17 to discuss and approve a proposal for raising funds.

With an aim to reach 50 million homes across 1100 cities, Reliance Jio is exploring business opportunities with several MSOs in order to launch it's Gigafiber Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Service in India.

“Reliance Jio was facing problems to roll out its broadband. Since these MSOs have good reach in particular regions, it will be easier for Jio to launch and reach their target audience,” said a senior industry executive to e4m on Monday, October 15. 

On July 5, at Reliance Industries Limited’s 41st AGM, Mukesh D Ambani announced the launch of Jio Giga Fiber, an ultra-high speed fixed line broadband service, for homes and enterprises with a target to reach 50mn homes across 1100 cities. Jio Giga Fibre service will offer ultra high-definition entertainment on large screen TVs, multi-party video conferencing from your living room, voice-activated virtual assistants, virtual reality gaming, digital shopping and immersive experiences.

In May 2017, Jio had begun rolling out beta trials of the FTTH service at select locations in six cities — Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Surat and Vadodara.

Reports say Hathway has over 52 per cent share of the total cable broadband market in India with 0.77 million subscribers and the ability to reach 5.5 million homes. DEN has the ability to reach 0.97 million homes and has 106,000 broadband subscribers. 

Hathway Cable is owned by the Raheja Group while Sameer Manchanda owns DEN Networks. 

 

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ZEE5 India appoints Taranjeet Singh as CRO and Business Head - New Projects

Singh had quit social media platform Twitter last month where he served as the Country Director. At Zee5, he will report to CEO Tarun Katial.

Madhuwanti Saha 13 hours ago

TaranjeetSingh

Twitter's Taranjeet Singh joins ZEE5 India, the streaming service of ZEEL as their new Chief Revenue Officer and Business Head – New Projects.


On the new appointment Tarun Katial, CEO, Zee5, said, “The consumption patterns of the Indian audience are rapidly evolving. Taranjeet’s extensive experience in the media sector across print, television and digital will hold us in good stead in the times to come. His robust track record and insights will go a long way in advancing ZEE5 India’s focus to achieve new milestones.”


Singh shares, “Engaging with the content consumer has been an exciting journey for me. The OTT space is definitely booming and working with a brand like ZEE5 from the ZEE Group, a media powerhouse, is indeed an honor. Within months of launch, the brand is already number two in the OTT space and I am looking forward to joining the team to take it to newer heights.”


Prior to this, Singh was with Twitter where he joined as Business Head and was responsible for boosting Twitter's presence in India. He was leading the charge for sales and marketing support for Twitter's advertisers. In 2017 he was elevated to the position of Country Director for Twitter India.


ZEE5 recorded a growth of 190 per cent compared to April ’18 with 41.3 mn monthly active users (MAU) as revealed by the company during their quarter results of Q2FY19.

Senior Correspondent, exchange4media, Mumbai Madhuwanti reports on marketing, OTT and radio with a focus on trends. Based in Mumbai, she has worked across lifestyle, culture, television and retail industry.

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Millions of contact details, search history stolen in online attack: Facebook

The social media giant has said that only about 30 million users were “actually” affected

exchange4media News Service 3 days ago

facebook logo

An online attack that was believed to have exposed the data of near 50 million Facebook users last month actually affected about 30 million users, the social media giant said as it released details of the leak on Friday night.

“We now know that fewer people were impacted than we originally thought. Of the 50 million people whose access tokens we believed were affected, about 30 million actually had their tokens stolen,” Facebook said.

Explaining in detail how the attack was carried out, the company said that first, the attackers already controlled a set of accounts, which were connected to Facebook friends. They used an automated technique to move from account to account so they could steal the access tokens of those friends, and for friends of those friends, and so on, totalling about 400,000 people. 

The attackers used a portion of these 400,000 people’s lists of friends to steal access tokens for about 30 million people. For 15 million people, attackers accessed two sets of information – name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had on their profiles). For 14 million people, the attackers accessed the same two sets of information, as well as other details people had on their profiles. This included username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches. For 1 million people, the attackers did not access any information, Facebook said.

Explaining how they detected the attack, Facebook said, “We saw an unusual spike of activity that began on September 14, 2018, and we started an investigation. On September 25, we determined this was actually an attack and identified the vulnerability. Within two days, we closed the vulnerability, stopped the attack, and secured people’s accounts by resetting the access tokens for people who were potentially exposed. As a precaution, we also turned off “View As.”

“We’re cooperating with the FBI, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack,” the company added.

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Vivo India appoints Bang in the Middle as digital creative agency: Reports

The agency will work closely with PHD India that won the smartphone brand's digital media duties earlier this year

exchange4media News Service 3 days ago

vivo

Bang in the Middle (BITM) has been awarded the digital creative duties for Vivo India, say reports. The agency will work closely with PHD India that won Vivo's digital media duties earlier this year, with the account being managed from Delhi.

Speaking on the appointment, Jerome Chen, CMO, Vivo India, says in a press note released to media organisations, "When we were looking for an agency for our digital mandate, we wanted a team with an exceptional track record in digital capabilities and creative brand campaigns. With the rising digital consumption, it is imperative to create a differentiated online marketing strategy that breaks through the clutter and strengthens recall, preference, and consideration for Vivo products across categories. I am confident that our partnership with both PHD India and BITM will further help Vivo to build greater visibility through unique campaigns."

According to reports, Prathap Suthan, chief creative officer and co-founder, Bang in the Middle, says in a press release, "As an agency, we are more than thrilled to work with Vivo. It's a brand that speaks to its audience using products that clearly redefine the edge of mobile technology and design. And more importantly, Vivo effectively understands and encourages the focus on creating and producing original and distinctive work. It's a brand of these new times, and we are completely keyed up to do great work together."

 

 

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WhatsApp may allow ads in 'Status' feature

Through the ‘Status’ feature, users share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs.

exchange4media News Service 4 days ago

whatsapp

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp may add advertisements to be displayed in the ‘Status’ section of the app, according to media reports.

Through the ‘Status’ feature, users share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs. These, however, disappear after 24 hours.

One of the media reports quoted a tweet from fan-site WABetaInfo that tests Whatsapp features. "WhatsApp beta for Android 2.18.305: WhatsApp is implementing in this version ads for Status. They are not visible yet and the feature will be enabled in future," the tweet reportedly read.

According to earlier reports, the advertisements would be powered by Facebook's native advertising system. Speculations about this have been doing the rounds ever since Facebook acquired WhatsApp.

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How Amazon and Flipkart promise to keep your budgets woes at bay this Diwali

Turns out both ecommerce giants are harping on the word 'budget' to expand their reach and bring the next wave of consumers online. But will it work?

Madhuwanti Saha and Venkata Susmita Biswas 4 days ago

amazon-flipkart

It’s a funny coincidence how this festive season both ecommerce giants- Flipkart and Amazon- are running their large-scaled campaigns themed around a common (shopping) deterrent. That deterrent is budget.

Global ecommerce portal Amazon brought its Great Indian Festival Band on screen and ground with the promise of ‘Ab khushiyon ke beech budget nahi aayega, poora India, Great Indian Festival manayega (now budget will not come in the way of happiness, India will celebrate the Great Indian Festival).’ Meanwhile homegrown marketplace Flipkart, which is flush with $16 billion from US retail giant Walmart, has top celebrities Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Saina Nehwal, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni etc advising consumers how ‘The Big Billion Days(BBD)’ sale makes them ‘budget se mukt’ (free from budget). Both sales kicked off on October 10.

For Ravi Desai-Director, Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India, there is constant endeavour to make “shopping more affordable and within the reach of every family’s festive budget.”

“Customers can save more while shopping and not feel constrained by budgets this season. Our programs such as Amazon Pay EMI, no-cost EMI on Debit & Credit cards & Exchange will make shopping on Amazon.in even more special and valuable,” shares Desai.

Kunal Dubey Director - Brand Marketing + Media Head, Flipkart highlighted the fact that since budget ‘has always been this monster on our back’ it led to ‘Ab India Hoga Budget Se Mukt’ campaign.’

But Flipkart took their campaign a notch higher by leveraging on Indians’ love for bargaining. This is a voice-enabled bargaining experience the portal provides in partnership with Google Zoo on Google Assistant that lets consumer negotiate for different products listed on the online marketplace directly using their voice.

Talking about previous years’ themes, Dubey mentioned of keeping guardrails for BBD. He shares, “These are: it needs to be colloquial, it needs to match the stature of BBD and its scale, and it needs to solve people's shopping needs. In 2016 – ‘Itne Main Itnaaa Milega’ (when the norm is itne main sirf itna hi milta hai) and in 2017 it was ‘Ab mehengaai giregi’ (when inflation is the one thing that the nation cribs about). In both these cases we presented campaign ideas where our intention was to see how we could come up with something that showcases that during BBD the value of the money goes up. Rs 100 should look like Rs 1000.”

Tapping the hinterlands

It’s a no brainer that the next wave of economic growth for brands is coming from the hinterlands as India’s metropolitan consumer reach is nearing a saturation point. Also, ecommerce is the default shopping mode only in big cities which explains its tiny 2-4 per cent contribution to India’s retail sector.   

Amazon and Flipkart are on course to change that and bring their next billion consumers online. This clearly explains Flipkart’s strategy of roping in regional stars, namely Prosenjit (Bengali), Tammannah Bhatia (Tamil), Mahesh Babu (Telugu), Yash (Kannada) and Mahesh Manjrekar (Marathi) in their commercials in order to catch the attention of consumers in regional markets. It has been pursuing aggressive 360 degree marketing strategy for its fifth edition of BBD with couple of hundred TVCs and few million digital videos apart from OOH, print and radio.

On the other hand, Desai shared that like previous year Amazon is following ‘a two-pronged strategy targeting the Rest of India and the South separately.’ So there lies the expectation of a significant jump in the number of consumers from these region. He shares, “In this campaign as well Amazon.in has picked up something that is peculiarly Indian, a band, which is symbol of celebration and happiness across India. With this campaign, Amazon.in hopes to welcome millions of new customers and have also launched a Hindi app as a red carpet to them.”

Flipkart and Amazon are expected to record sales of $2.5-3 billion during the five-day event this year, according to Redseer estimates. Only time will tell if the Indian arm of the global ecommerce portal will be able to edge past its Indian-based rival that has been forging ahead during festive sales for the past two years.

Expert speak

Brand experts feel confident that the ecommerce giants will be able to get the tier-II and III geographies to shop online. For Harish Bijoor, Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, Flipkart already has its ‘early set of customers in its kitty’ from urban markets (who have already been reached out through digital). “As far as new customers (also the next level of tier-II towns) are concerned they have to be reached out through traditional media. It’s essentially a ladder which ecommerce companies will use going forward.”

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, says, “Each one is advertising the category more than themselves. Having said that Flipkart will stand out for sure for the icons they have used.”

Kiran Khalap, Co-founder & MD, Chlorophyll, points out that more than the content of advertising is their preparedness to deliver on-ground. He adds, “This they have attempted through assisted e-commerce, where local retail shops help rural consumers choose from Amazon catalogues, place the order on-line and then fulfill the order. (Amazon announced that they now reach all 19100 pin code areas in India).”

For Khalap a lot still remains to be done. He points out where they lag, “What the e-commerce companies have not been able to cope in communication is local language communication: 95 per cent of video consumption online is in Indian languages and voice-based search has grown by 270 per cent. So the advertising campaigns are the tip of ice-berg. e-commerce giants will have to work hard to customise content (even web sites and catalogues) to local tastes and new voice-based users.”

 

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Google India advertising business contributes 69% to Rs 9,338 crore revenue in 2017-18

Net profit was higher by about 33 per cent at Rs 407.2 crore as compared to Rs 306.6 crore in the previous year

exchange4media News Service 4 days ago

google

Google India revenues have grown 29 per cent to about Rs 9,338 crore in 2017-18 over Rs 7,239.5 crore in 2016-17, according to Registrar of Companies filing shared by market intelligence firm Tofler. The net profit was higher by about 33 per cent at Rs 407.2 crore as compared to Rs 306.6 crore in the previous year.

Google India’s total expenses rose nearly 29 per cent to Rs 8,710.9 crore from Rs 6,760.4 crore in 2016-17 as it continues to invest heavily in the fiercely competitive Indian market.

According to the filing, advertising revenue contributed about 69 per cent of the company’s turnover, while the share of IT-enabled services stood at 18 per cent and that of IT services was at 13 per cent. According to the DAN e4m digital report, the digital advertising marketing in India is expected to be worth Rs 10,852 Cr. Google now makes up nearly 60% of that with the tech giant earning as much as Rs 6443 Cr from India in ad revenue alone.

During 2017-18, Google India made 10 CSR grants, totalling about Rs 20.3 crore to NGOs working to improve the quality of education, and for safety of children.

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Facebook announces strategic partnership with Httpool in the Balkan region

To support local businesses, Httpool is now the official reseller partner for Facebook in the Balkans including Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia

exchange4media News Service 4 days ago

Facebook Httpool

Httpool, a subsidiary of Internet Media Services (IMS), and Facebook announce strategic partnership in the Balkan region. Httpool is now the official reseller partner for Facebook in the Balkans, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Httpool, is the international cross channel advertising network that offers broadest range of ad network products and solutions across display, video, engagement, social and performance channels. Facebook recognises the opportunity for this long-term partnership to aid local agencies and advertisers in reaching greater audiences and engaging with users, improving potential of the local businesses.

Httpool, as the new Facebook’s official ad sales partner, will provide support, knowledge and expertise to local businesses and assist them with marketing strategies across Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. The goal of the cooperation is to provide in-country support to advertisers in Balkans by a partner with a strong position, expertise and a proven track record in the region.

“We’ve designed our reseller program to bring all of our knowledge and expertise to advertisers in countries in the Balkan region where Facebook doesn’t have a physical presence. Today we are excited to go one step further to add even more value to businesses in the region,” said Robert Bednarski, Country Director, CEE, Facebook.

“This partnership is another proof of Httpool’s leading position and successful execution in the region. We are excited to assist Facebook in introducing the latest advertising solutions to the region and provide brands and agencies a first-hand support at the highest execution level,” said Aljosa Jenko, Founder and CEO, Httpool.

The partnership will introduce Facebook’s best practices, training, strategy development techniques and local payment options to the region with the help of Httpool’s expert advertising operations processes. Agencies will further benefit from team trainings, direct billing and direct support with advertisement policy issues.

“Advertisers in the region use Facebook and Instagram to connect with their audiences in meaningful ways. Thanks to the strategic partnership with Httpool we will be more useful to them providing specially designed trainings and experts’ support,” commented Rustam Ziganshin, Reseller Partner CEE at Facebook.

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2018 a turning point for original content on OTT

Netflix is said to have dedicated Rs 600 cr per year for original content in India and Amazon committed Rs 2,230 cr last year, which is expected to be allocated over two-three years

Madhuwanti Saha 6 days ago

OTT original content

If year 2017 was about a dramatic increase in the number of subscribers in the OTT space, 2018 will definitely be remembered for the robust growth in content production.

Global streaming service Netflix has reportedly dedicated close to Rs 600 crore per year for original content in India. Similarly, Amazon committed a bulk figure of Rs 2,230 crore for original Indian content in 2017, expected to be allocated over the course of two-three years. Coming to the local platforms, Balaji Telefilms’ ALTBalaji intends to invest up to Rs 500 crore over the next three years, majority of which will be dedicated to strengthening its content offerings. Also, ZEE5, launched early this year, has so far released 15 originals across six languages. Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of ZEEL, in a recent interview said that “a lion’s share” of their investments for the next two-three years will be in the digital space.

Content Scaling Up

The increase in the investment has resulted in a significant increase in the scale and quality of content production. Now almost all players, from the global giants to local players, are working on long-form content.

Monika Shergill, EVP & Head, Content, Viacom18 Digital Ventures agrees. “The year 2018 shows us the early signs of the power and the scale at which OTT platforms will be operating. It’s the year when large-format content has come out at a scale reflecting the global standards. It has been the most defining year, as it gives us a sense of how big this market is going to be in the coming years.”

According to Shergill, the tremendous growth of OTT platforms has been driven by their unique position to offer personalised entertainment to the consumer at their convenience.

Zulfiqar Khan, Managing Director, Hooq, too agrees that year 2018 should be known as the inflection point for content. He believes that the real content play started playing up post mid-2018 and now there’s no stopping back.

“If we have to categorise it year-wise, 2017 was the inflection point for infrastructure, with Jio making internet available and accessible to all. Year 2018 should be known as the inflection point for content. There’s no stopping back,” says Khan.

Beginning last month, Hooq, with the tagline ‘Home for Hollywood,’ is offering big-ticket American shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Arrow, SWAT, The Oath, Flash on the same day as their overseas release.

This lapping up of content is bringing in subscription and advertising revenue, says Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head – Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN).

“It’s true for most of us (OTT players). We are seeing a significant movement in consumption--in terms of time spent, overall quality of content and the number of users coming to our app. As a result, there is also a significant transaction on the subscription side. Advertising has seen a strong growth. For instance, FIFA World Cup had 36 sponsors. Therefore, we will continue to ramp up our investment on content," Sodhi added.

The changing environment has also brought about a change in the type of content being produced. According to Ajay Chacko, Co-Founder and CEO, Arre, long-form & quality shows and franchises with multiple seasons have become the preferred format as against the early-day trend of short form/snacky/ UGC content.”

The year, meanwhile, also saw a proliferation of original regional content, with players like Viu India venturing into the Tamil market and ZEE5 & Sony LIV launching in different languages.

Talking about the boost that the regional markets have given to the OTT players, Bimal Unnikrishnan, Content Head, Viu India, says, “The proliferation of localised regional content also saw an upward rising trend which dominated the video consumption at large. The consumption of content on the digital medium started gaining immense momentum with the advent of regional expansion by these OTT platforms.”

According to Ali Hussein, COO, Eros Digital this production of quality content had to eventually happen.

“Content production has a cycle of 12-18 months. Unless the planning started in 2016-17, players wouldn’t have be able to deliver products in 2018,” he says.

“From the technology standpoint, there’s been an evolution of how content has been served to offer different experiences. From business point, it’s fantastic as we see a healthy balance among telecoms, distributors, content partners and production,” he adds.

Ample scope of work

India’s diverse demographics give OTT players in India ample scope to work with several production houses, independent directors and content creators to offer differentiated yet targeted offering.

For instance, Netflix has partnered with Pocket Aces' web series division Dice Media to create scripted shows. Last week, its popular series ‘Little Things Season 2’ made its debut on the OTT platform. The content company has five shows lined up with different OTT platforms. It also has content from The Viral Fever (TVF).

Talking about the reasons behind OTT players joining hands with content creators, Ashwin Suresh, Founder, Pocket Aces, points out that these platforms want to associate with the younger audience by creating content of their choice.

“OTTs have realised that to capitalise on a younger audience, they need to create content that resonates with them. The most obvious way to do it is to tie up with content companies that have been creating content for this audience for a long time and understand the tone and the grammar of content creation on digital. It's a natural fit for them. So more and more OTTs will start to come to creators like us.”

Arre has 130-140 hours of original content on pre-production, scheduled to roll out from this month onwards. This includes seven shows of its own (on Arre and other platforms) and seven on the studio side commissioned for other OTT platforms.

With so many hours of programming to be rolled out, the content game has just begun. This has set the foundations for bigger scale and quality content, making the future of the OTT industry bright, as Vijay Subramanium, Director & Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video, India, sums up, “There is a significant customer demand for entertainment. India’s streaming video space is growing rapidly, primarily driven by growth in mobile broadband, lower data charges and significant investments in the digital media ecosystem. The future of the streaming industry looks bright.”

Senior Correspondent, exchange4media, Mumbai Madhuwanti reports on marketing, OTT and radio with a focus on trends. Based in Mumbai, she has worked across lifestyle, culture, television and retail industry.

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