The digital space will revitalise itself in 2014: Arun Mehra

While content appears to be ruling digital screens and devices, in 2014 the industry is likely to see greater innovation within this space, says the CEO of Talenthouse India

e4m by Arun Mehra
Updated: Dec 31, 2013 10:05 AM
The digital space will revitalise itself in 2014: Arun Mehra

The steady rise of digital and social media is a bright sign in a gloomy economic slowdown. As Indian corporates get more competitive, marketers are constantly looking out for ways to brave the slowdown and maintain brand recall in tough economic situations.

The year 2013 witnessed a hockey stick graph in the content space, predominantly in video content. Content owners in the entertainment and music space witnessed a manifold increase in revenues. This poses a potential growth opportunity. Players in the content space could exploit this opportunity by releasing niche or targeted small scale films only for the digital audience.

While content appears to be ruling digital screens and devices, in 2014 the industry is likely to see greater innovation within this space. Companies would need to take certain steps to cultivate the full growth potential of the industry.

2014 is primed to be the year of content and will see the following:

Content Curation: The rise of digital consumption has resulted in an overload of content. The coming year will be about curation of the current and new content for better usage. Platforms such as Pinterest, Quora, etc. have emerged on the basis of this need.

Target Specific Content: The world moving to smaller screens has resulted in a demand for content that is engaging and what the consumer seeks for.

Digital Innovations- Crowdsourcing and Content
The rapid rise of digital marketing has led to a larger number of brands trying to enter this space. Every ambitious brand was seen experimenting with digital content in 2013. Most brands realized that to be viable digitally, they needed to create content that would go viral. Marketers had to create budgets for digital content that was not only engaging but directly connected with the target group too.

This phenomenon has led to the rise of crowdsourcing. While used sparingly earlier, crowdsourcing has picked up over the past few years. Crowdsourcing has been talked about as a revolutionary breakthrough concept with brands like P&G claiming that more than half of the new product initiatives involve significant collaboration through their platform Connect + Develop.

While the organised creative crowdsourcing is yet to reach its full potential in India, it has become popular in the last few years. For example, major brands like Mahindra Rise and Lays have partnered with their audiences to create new products.

Given the existing brand clutter on social media today, crowdsourcing has gained momentum amongst marketers. Marketers are shunning cliché social media activities like posts, tweets, contest, etc. on popular platforms for crowdsourcing. Marketers want to have conversations with their audiences in a rich, engaging manner and take their involvement to the next level. They want their TG to be “in-touch” with them and therefore require content to constantly keep them engaged and entertained. Through crowdsourcing, brands not only talk to their TG in their own language but also generate content for themselves created purely by their TG.

Internationally crowdsourcing, open innovation and co-creation have been around as part of marketing and innovative strategies. While in India, besides crowdsourcing the Rupee Symbol by the Indian Government, large scale consumer involvement has not yet been undertaken. Brands have now opened up to consumer generated content on a smaller scale through social media and this trend will only gain momentum in the coming years. 

With the emergence of creative crowdsourcing platforms like Talenthouse, crowdsourcing will be the preferred way forward for brands in the digital space in 2014.

Crowdsourcing is a reality the world over because:
Consumers become Advocates & Loyalists:
It is every marketers' dream to have their audiences becoming their brand advocates. Brands today need to build relationships and not just a fan base. This has led them to reach out to consumers in innovative ways such as crowdsourcing. Consumers get to work directly with top brands and winning such projects helps them gain recognition as well as receive life-changing opportunities. The amount of time spent by consumers on each project helps increase brand recall and liking, thereby increasing loyalty levels.

For example, Nerolac opened its iconic jingle “Jab ghar ki rounak badhani ho…” to the creative community to recreate it for the changing times and audience.

Collaborate, Create, Engage: Crowdsourcing is not just an “engagement” buzzword. It provides a multitude of ways to gather brand ideas, opinions and feedback. Brands that have opened up to crowdsourcing have gained a deeper understanding of their customers' perception levels. It enables brands to effectively communicate with its users and also allows them to get involved in the creativity and strategizing aspects of the brand.

For example, Micromax approached its creative agency for a change in its brand logo and identity. While a standard agency provides not more than 10 options, the brand realised they needed to understand audience perception. Through the crowdsourcing activity on Talenthouse the brand received 2500 logos and launched their current punch logo with a new attitude. The logo contributed by the crowd has done wonders for the brand today.

Technology: The uniqueness of crowdsourcing on Talenthouse is that it engages socially with audiences in their own language. The moment a person registers and uploads an entry on Talenthouse, there is a message that goes out to all his friends on Facebook that he has participated in a project for a particular brand/mentor on Talenthouse.

For example, if you’re a writer, 40  per cent of your friends on Facebook are writers too or belong to the same industry. The moment they notice that their friend is taking part in a project of interest to them, they too want to participate. After the submission period voting begins; while the voting is on, the writer goes back to his friends and gets them to vote for him. Once someone Votes, the project is posted on their Facebook page. This creates a viral effect. So, every artist can bring in at least 5,000 engagements on Facebook--a big value for brands given that its audiences become its brand advocates.

For example, Samsung for their Guinness World Records attempt to create the largest digital art-piece used the platform offered by Talenthouse. The large scale consumer involvement activity was responsible for the success of the world record.

Creative pool: In every aspect, the world today cannot ignore a nation like India. We believe every single person of our 1.25 billion people has a creative streak waiting to be discovered. We are sitting on a goldmine of untapped talent who are searching for a platform to showcase their talent and gain recognition.

For example, Anurag Kashyap Productions launched a One Minute Film Project to identify talent in the film space and provided three talented filmmakers an opportunity to work with the production house. Similarly, Zee ETC launched an Anti- Piracy campaign ‘Bollywood Thanks You’ and received 10 films that were played across cinemas and Zee network.

Quality Content: It’s all about the content today and brands have realised this.

For example, Ambi Pur, Clean & Clear, Axe, Bacardi, etc. have all crowdsourced films and used them on their digital channel.

Cost Effectiveness: A platform like Talenthouse provides brands with an opportunity to engage and connect with their audiences at a fraction of cost compared to conventional campaigns.

For example, Zodiac Clothing has used Talenthouse platform three times and aims to use it for more projects. The brand crowdsourced a model to be the face for their brand ZOD! Looking at the effectiveness of the campaign, the brand launched an activity to crowdsource a 360 degree campaign idea for Z3 and scriptwriters for ZOD!.

Targeted Outreach: The biggest success of a project depends on the amount of significant content it generates. Talenthouse has strategic tie-ups with creative schools across the country. Every project is treated like an individual marketing campaign and the outreach team communicates and procures entries from schools relevant to the Creative Invite.

For example, Lee crowdsourced designs made out of denim. The art required specific talent to be able to produce artefacts, apparels, and craft products out of denim. This activity was possible for Lee as Talenthouse had the right talent pool to support the same.

Future of Crowdsourcing
Integral to campaigns:
Crowdsourcing, open innovation and co-creation are going to be an integral part of brand campaigns rather than its current role as a supporting initiative. A growing number of brands are going to apply this new paradigm of openness to their marketing and innovation strategies. 

Creative Network: Whilst brands have been crowdsourcing independently, platforms like Talenthouse boast of an operational calibre. A platform like Talenthouse will help brands create, curate and plan campaign for brands to take advantage of the creative pool of talent available.

The author is CEO of Talenthouse India.

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