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Trends that will shape the trajectory of content space and its marketing

As new platforms gain popularity, they demand a shift in the substance of content

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MUMBAI: Content and brands have coherently managed to revolutionise how the audience consumes daily content across all platforms. Engaging trends have been discovered in recent years like the advent of digital content. But as new platforms gain massive popularity, they demand a subtle shift in the substance of their content, be it TV series, television ads, short stories or full-fledged films. The way this content is measured needs to be altered.

Here are the trends we believe have, and will shape the future trajectory of the content space and its marketing and discovery activities.

Changing dynamics between Bollywood and brands/falling associations

The association between Bollywood actors and brands has led to some legendary advertisements in the past. With our favourite romance actors using fragrant perfumes or our action heroes getting their adrenaline rush from flavourful sodas, our minds were enticed with aspirational imagery. In the recent years the heros and heroines are no longer the quintessential epitomes of beauty and machismo and are now more real and approachable. Similarly, the content in films has undergone a major transformation from fantasy to reality as well; with real films like Raazi, Thugs of Hindostan, Padman, Parmanu, Raid and more, which are no longer utopian but pragmatic and vulnerable. On account of this, the synergies and content in branding and films are being redefined. On the other hand  in lieu of the changing psychographics and mindsets, brands are also redefining the space and tonality. It will be sometime till this space goes back to multiple associations, till then we will see a decline from what was the case 5 years back.

Discovering digital content

The hurdled journey from creating content to posting it has become nullified with digital media. Short films can now become huge blockbusters at the click of a button. But those very films can also get lost amongst the crowd of a million videos that are uploaded online each day. The challenges of marketing and discovery remain. Marketing and distribution are the key pillars to content discovery and both are now being redefined as content of your preference is suggested on your screens by various influencers.

Authority figures like ‘Critics Choice Short Film Awards’ (which celebrates best short form content in an unbiased way) help promote worthy films that may otherwise go unnoticed. They can assist in introducing new genres and gaining recognition in the digital space.

In future the recommendation search engine will be redefined by using consumer psychographics to predict future choices based on those made in the present, without the restriction of a single platform.

Going beyond the unrealistic assumption of a single genre preference towards mapping consumer’s complex choices they could track content preferences across multiple genres (Multi digital platforms (audio/video/text), print, television).Thereafter, creating sub-genres for curated consumption by looking at movies, Ted talks, books, magazines and more.

Social media and its expanding reach towards content consumption

Social media giants like Facebook continue to reign as network favourites across the globe. And now this expansive reach is moving towards High badge value shows i.e. those that attract more shares, by having content that is socially progressive. Touching an emotional nerve and focusing on affiliate communities, it is attracting a large viewer base. But as this shift occurs, the rules of the consumption game must change. Platforms must adapt to the varying attention span of consumers, as the first three seconds define the popularity of the videos. Visually impactful imagery is a mandate for all content as shooting goes beyond handheld devices towards High Definition. Every social media channel now holds an untapped viewership potential which must be shown to promote valuable content.

Music transcends digital boundaries and makes it way to traditional means

Television is no more concerned solely with traditional shows but is an equally attractive medium for digital first properties as they become rating drivers for channels. New initiatives are being undertaken to release content across different mediums by tapping into relatable pop culture. The success of ‘Jammin’ a music property (simulcast on TV, digital and radio) where YouTube stars meet top Bollywood composers, which opened to great numbers on Sony TV in addition to it’s success on and VIU and BigFMreinforces that appealing content can transcend boundaries.

The growth of vernacular content

The next 100 million Indian viewers that are going to be binging on digital content will be users alien to the English language and their consumption of content would be in regional languages, ushering an unprecendented demand for vernacular content as has been demonstrated by the OTTs. A scalable and sustainable example here is The Yaari franchise on Viu is broadcasted in multiple languages like Telugu, Kannada and Marathi and it continues to be an engaging show across multiple states and the diaspora abroad.

Time to change the measure of digital content

The OTTs and digital platforms are  split between free and doing originals (e.g. YT originals, Sony Liv), to freemiums (Hotstar, Viu, Zee5), to 100 per cent subscription platforms (Netflix,Amazon prime etc). Hence it’s essential to compare them on parity and not just on a single metric.

Originals are defining the content approach in the Indian context and if the aim is to increase downloads and viewer engagement then the metric needs to change from downloads or MAU (monthly active users) to DAU (daily active users). The quality of the content and platform desirability cannot  be measured on the basis of a new monthly release, but it must be evaluated through the DAU/MAU metric to factor in returning users. This should be the true measure for content engagement as it will streamline comparisons between subscription OTTs vs free OTT vs freemiums.

Rise of gaming as a marketing platform

Costs of launching a car with AR/VR experience may be too high and unreasonable, but for gamers who already spend profusely on gaming zones and digital games, a small premium will not deter them from availing an enhanced gaming experience. Already a high engagement platform, gaming is eating into time spent by Indians on prime-time television as maximum gamers were found to play the most between 7 pm to midnight. The average daily time spent by Indians on mobile games has crossed the one-hour mark, which is more than the 45 minutes that they spend on streaming platforms.

In 2018, over 380 million people are now watching other people playing games online making it a gaming revolution in the digital content space.

Brand embracing and creating sustainable platforms

As the race for eyeballs & viewer stickiness hots up, so does the pressue on creating new and appealing content leading to heavy investements for the platforms and networks. The old space of branded content has taken a new shape now with platforms and networks looking at this as content first. Annual brand funded or sponsorships have matured into prospective longer term partnerships like LUX Golden Rose Awards, Mc Dowell’s No.1 Yaari and  Yaari  JAM , Red Label 6-Pack Band 2.0.

A strategic transformation has led to content becoming larger and (though marginally), joint initiatives becoming longer and content becoming synonymous with the brand. Brands are embracing platforms to leverage content strategically (long term and scalable year on year) and as broadcasters reward and demand for content, the number of these partnerships is sure to grow as it transforms into a sustainable model.

(The author is head, content+, Mindshare. The views expressed here are his own and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them)

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