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Brands willing to spend double digits for branded content: TVF's Vijay Koshy

TVF is moving beyond web series into other things like influencers

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MUMBAI: They are viral, that's for sure. Churning out millennial-relatable content, The Viral Fever (TVF) is not only one of the leading content creators in the digital space but can be termed as a pioneer too. It has been creating web-series with killer brand integrations from a time when the idea of branded video was very blurry.

In an interaction with Indiantelevision.com, TVF brand partnerships head Vijay Koshy shared how TVF has evolved over time, coping with changes and challenges.

The birth of online video content saw urban youth as the target. It is only recently with cheaper data  that tier II and tier III cities changed the orientation and strategy of content creators. Koshy said that TVF was very clear from the beginning that it would make content for the “real India”.

“So, when it started itself we were very clear that we will cater to the real India. Real India does not necessarily reside in Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore. Meirut, Agra are as important as Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Lucknow, Jalandhar. Now audiences from tier II cities are also consuming digital content thanks to better data penetration with brands like Jio. If it’s a good story, it will cut across country, they will relate to it,” Koshy said.

The audience is always the hero of the story. The focus remains on creating stories which can connect to the life of audiences. Once the connection is established, then it will connect brands with core content.

Online is experimenting and so is TVF. Despite  integrations in categories like auto and FMCG, it still saw more than half of its business came from e-commerce players. The latest one was with Brand Factory for the series Weekends.

“Brand Factory has innovative ways of marketing and in that sense, it has always been open to experimenting with new formats. Brand Factory specifically has been always very proactive and talks to a very young audience unlike other brands in its category. When we worked with them, they were very clear that they wanted the brand to be thematically integrated into whatever the content would be,” he shared.

TVF is also working with the BSFI industry, which is an interesting category. AMFI is one of the largest partners that TVF has on board. “Everyone knows mutual fund is good but to talk about what’s the lowest amount that we should start, where I can invest, that kind of important communication can happen very naturally through web series. So, brands are willing to experiment and try out web series. I think a lot of brands are now, at least, segregating double-digit share as far as branded content is concerned,” he added.

According to him, a lot of brands are realising digital demands and are backing that up with budgets for branded content. He also added that as per his estimation eight out of ten brands are recognising the importance of digital platforms.

Talking about the growth in investment in branded videos, he shared that brands are asking pertinent questions about pre-roll and display ads including completion rates, click rates, overall effectiveness and ROI etc. Some brands, therefore, want to take the road less travelled and invest in branded content.

“Every time you create content, you are experimenting with change. Audience taste in this segment is also changing so dramatically that you need to be really close to them to understand their passions, motivations so that you can understand their content needs and preferences. The way we go about is telling brands that if you are spending on digital, start in a small way,” Koshy added.

When it comes to TVF, revenue model is based on partnerships with brands. It has to maintain a fine balance of good storytelling while keeping the brand requirement also in line, which is not very easy to achieve. According to Koshy, over the years, TVF has managed to master that.

However, TVF is evolving and not anymore limited to web content only. It is getting into other things like influencers, where it will collaborate with well-known influencers exclusively to help them create content. It is also experimenting with reality shows, while getting into the regional space in a big way starting from the South.

Moreover, it also has its own platform which means brands can do pre-rolls and brand campaigns also on its content. International brands like Tuborg, Redbull, along with lot of local brands like Tata Motors have done a lot of pre-rolls with TVF. Hence with a large spread network, the company is confident that it will have multiple offerings for new brands who want to get into the digital space.

“It’s a fine line. Often our brand partners have real concerns on the amount of visibility or ensuring that the brand values are intact. Because we have been doing this for so many years now, we understand what brands want. The biggest thing we tell them if this content does not work out, you can go back to selling cars, shampoo, something else but for us, it is our reputation that is at stake. We will do our best to make the content work,” he commented while asked about creative freedom in branded content.

“So, when that kind of reassurance comes on, they tend to agree to take that risk eight out of ten times. Even brands before campaigns go on and research everything possible but get rejected. In today’s world brands are also willing to experiment because they are seeing their communication is not impactful as it used to be earlier,” he added.

After ruling the space for so long, creating exemplary brand integrations, it has its own defined audience giving brands a reason to spend. What’s important for team TVF is that how does it engage with brands so that they come back and keep working with them on a regular basis. 

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