Digital media will overtake TV as a preferred medium of entertainment: Founder Pocket Aces
Pocket Aces, Indiaâs foremost digital entertainment company, produces engaging digital-first content through their multiple content brands such as "FilterCopy" (Shareable Digital Content Platform,) "Dice Media" (Premium Digital Storytelling platform) and "Gobble" (Food Content Destination.) In an interview with exchange4media, Anirudh Pandita, Founder of Pocket Aces, shared his insights on how the consumption of content has evolved and how digital media is growing as the preferred medium of entertainment.
How has the consumption of online content evolved in the last few years? Is it merely an urban phenomenon?
Consumption of online content has changed dramatically in the past few years. The two major facets of this change are medium and format of content consumption. Ten years ago, most people didnât have fast internet and those who did, used wired broadband. This resulted in viewing of content on laptops and desktops. Also, content being consumed online was mostly text based, with some photo and very little video. Over the past few years, we have seen four critical factors that have caused a massive change in online content consumption which are improvement in mobile broadband speeds, decrease in the cost of mobile broadband internet, decrease in the cost of smartphones and increase in the penetration of the internet.
Today, almost 80 per cent of the web traffic in India is through mobile phones. People are spending over 75 per cent of their time on entertainment and on messaging or social media. The change in online content has so far been an urban-led change but due to the recent decrease in the cost of internet thanks to Jio, smaller towns and rural areas are also coming online rapidly. In about three to five years, weâll see this phenomenon extend to a large part of the country, both from a demographic and a geographic perspective.
TV still continues to be the most preferred medium of entertainment. Most of the TV players have now started parallel digital properties (OTT.) How do you plan to compete with them?
I think this is a pretty broad sweeping statement and is not true for many cohorts of users. TV is not the most preferred medium of entertainment for most young people, especially those in urban areas and for most working people through the day, because they have no access to a TV. According to a recent report by the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Indian users spend 28 weeks per hour on their mobile phones while they spend 25 per cent of that time (four hours) on television. The OTTs that you mentioned are run by the TV incumbents, who are successful and large media companies. We feel confident about competing with them because we are going at this with a digital-first mindset. Most of the content they are producing is not tailor made for mobile. Going purely by numbers and impact on the audience, we are beating the long form content of these platforms and we believe we will continue to out-innovate them in the days to come. We think these will be the key advantages as we grow further.
In an era of short attention spans, how challenging is it to produce engaging content?
We often say internally that, while it is easier than ever to create content, it is more difficult than ever to have a âhitâ and by a âhitâ I mean a piece of content that engages people and leaves an impact on the audience. Most times, people share our content because they relate to it and see a reflection of themselves or someone they know in the content. Other times, it is the humour or the message in the video that brings the engagement. Our content making is aided by our iterative, hypothesis-driven method of creating content, which is pretty different from how traditional content creators think. Lastly, we have existing digital distribution and a loyal fan base, which looks forward to each piece of content that we create. These factors help us create a moat against a lot of other content and to continue scaling our content. A good example of this is our network views that have scaled >10x in the past 12 months.
How do you look at competitors like AIB, culture machine, etc.?
There are other Indian companies that are taking the crack at solving the problem of creating content for the mobile generation. The likes of TVF, Culture Machine, OML/AIB and more are all attacking the problem with a different angle and with different capabilities. We feel that there is space for multiple companies in the space and multiple companies must win to create a healthy ecosystem.
What are your trend predictions for content consumption in the near future?
When we began our digital entertainment journey at Pocket Aces in 2015, we had identified a few key changes in consumer behavior when it came to content. We had figured out that content consumption was happening on mobile, while discovery was happening via social networks. By 2020, the size of our online video audience is estimated to reach 450 million.
We believe that personalized content and online communities will become more important than ever. Both vernacular and foreign content consumption will increase. Meanwhile, weâll also see content being consumed via new technologies. This could include consumption on voice platforms like Amazonâs Alexa or new AR platforms. While VR is not too far away, it will take some more time to get massively commercialized. Meanwhile, appointment viewing on TV will decline. Finally, new ways of combining content and commerce will emerge to provide consumers more novel, engaging and immersive shopping experiences than ever before.
What are the three best practices for producing sticky content?
a) Understand why people share and make them the advocates of your content. This allows you to scale your content quickly and distribute it at a very low cost and is equivalent to getting strong word of mouth at scale.
b) Use data and iterative content creation to create and improve content. There is a lot of great data available today to help you improve your content.
c) Give the power of creation to younger people because ultimately, they understand the storylines, characters, and themes which makes up a bulk of the online audience.
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