Nick’s digital roadmap

The times they are a-changin - Bob Dylan’s popular song - couldn’t have rung more true than present-day. A decade into the current century and change feels like the only constant. Gone are the days of VHS video tapes, black and white television, analog channels and wires; these have been rendered redundant by Blu-Ray discs, LED HD TVs, digital channels, Wi-fi and other what have you in terms of electronics. Mobile phones, laptops and tablets have replaced children’s toys and why not, when e-textbooks are on their way to becoming the norm in schools. The younger ‘digital’ generation is conversing in a language unbeknownst to the older one.

In such a scenario, Nickelodeon (Nick) India, a part of Viacom18 Media, like its peers, is pulling out all stops to adapt to the changing times. Speaking at length to Viacom18 VP and business head - Digital Media Rajneel Kumar, tried to find out just how.

The idea is to build something for advertisers to address their audience in this period says Rajneel Kumar

"We went in for a complete revamp of the Nick India site, as we wanted to make it completely gaming-centric, along with showcasing our great library of video content," explains Kumar.

For the uninitiated, Nick India has an array of online properties under its wing, addressing different age groups among youngsters. Nick Jr. caters to the needs of toddlers, but parents too are actively involved in their kids’ consumption patterns. The prime property, Nick, has both kids and parents consuming or engaging on the digital platform. And then there’s TeenNick, which is the only such platform, which addresses young girls and Sonic Gang which caters to young boys, who’re typically into high octane action, adventure and drama.

Of which, Sonic Gang has been a revelation of sorts, what with some exclusive content around popular IPs such as TMNT, Kung Fu Panda, Power Rangers and Avatar.

With 100 plus episodes of content and nearly 60 high-end (overall more than 80) games, the Nick India site has witnessed an increase in time spent by more than six minutes, which is deemed very healthy. Additionally, it has an exclusive digital magazine titled ‘SonicMag’ which covers gaming, cars, sports and gadgets. Currently, the magazine boasts of over 49 articles, with fresh articles being published from time to time.

Kumar says all these properties are an ideal platform for advertisers to reach out to their audience. "Looking at the overall digital economy and how we are addressing it, we are creating properties that help advertisers reach out to these particular segments, which are of keen interest to them. We are working really closely with advertisers across all categories to essentially run campaigns that are not really straight forward ones like banners and videos, but large campaigns around each of these markets that we are addressing," he explains.

Citing an example, he says: “If the addressable community is Nick Jr. as a category and looking at parents, our focus would actually be on taking characters from within that entire franchise and making it into how parents are an active part of the entire campaign...”

For a one-of-its-kind platform like TeenNick, apart from fresh programming and a presence on social media, Nick also encourages associations with fashion and lifestyle brands. There are integrated campaigns running for Nick‘s advertisers, which run from the online space to the apps and as per the need of advertisers.

Nick prides itself on having an all-round strategy. "We also look at on-ground activation. So, it’s a complete 360, and not just sending a piecemeal part of the digital experience to advertisers. It’s about integrating all our strengths and being able to address the audience‘s perspective as far as possible," exults Kumar. 

As far as that online video streaming monster called YouTube is concerned, Nick is very clear on how it plans to use it. "We use YouTube to primarily do a lot of promotions around our content and for showcasing teasers as also some content pieces from our entire library,” says Kumar.

The idea is to grab the attention of the young net surfer and lead him/her to the Nick India website and the strategy has worked wonders for the revamped website, which has seen more than 50 per cent growth in traffic, a 150 per cent increase in the time spent and more than 650,000 game plays in the last 60 days. "Our strategy is solid as we’ve seen how the digital advertising industry is growing. So we are building something for advertisers to address their audience in this period,” says Kumar.

And how does Nick manage this gargantuan task? Apparently, they have a fairly robust digital team comprising a products team around the web and mobile (the latter also includes a small in-house gaming studio), a technology team which takes care of web and mobile, an editorial team which looks after social media and content creation and a very strong sales team.

With youngsters increasingly preoccupied with games on their mobile phones, Nick also has a strong, primarily two-fold mobile apps strategy. First, every consumer should be able to access the app which is outside of television and is addressable to that consumer. Second, consumers must be kept engaged and connected to the brand even when they are not really watching just video content. The latter is where gaming comes into play. "The most popular characters that we have around in the kids segment encourage us to really build some engaging games for kids, and we will continue to launch such games throughout the year," says Kumar.

He explains that all social media platforms are rigorously used to generate traction amongst consumers. "We use all the mediums available at our disposal to generate traction and that‘s an investment that we have been making and will continue making as it is clearly in line with us using these platforms as long-term consumer destinations. This will engage the consumers and help us use all platforms to market our products to reach our goal," he says.

But how does Nick plan to make moolah out of these activities? “By primarily focusing on advertisers as they shift their attention to digital platforms. The main strategy is to be able to build our own properties, whether it’s online or mobile, which then becomes fertile ground for advertisers and marketers to partner with us on,” replies Kumar.

According to the KPMG FICCI 2013 report, the digital advertising market is pegged at Rs 21.7 billion and has grown at 40 per cent from 2011 to 2012. It is expected to be Rs 28.3 bn in 2013 and Rs 87 bn by 2017 growing at a CAGR of 31.1 per cent.

“All the indicators today show the time spent on the digital medium by the target audience that we are speaking about, so it only makes sense to not only monetise on the current scenario but also to build future-ready properties across each of these,” rounds off Kumar.

With the 2013 BCG report estimating that the number of children in the country expected to come online by 2017 is likely to more than triple to 134 million from about 40 million in 2012, Nick India certainly seems to be making all the right noises in the right direction...

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