The web publisher is giving readers redeemable e-comm points for engaging with the content on its bouquet of sites.
There are certain fundamentals that almost all brands employ to get their campaigns noticed. These would include coining a hashtag specific to the campaign to improve searchability, creating a conversation around the brand, roping in popular influencers, and even injecting a little snippet of humour into social media posts. From brands in the FMCG segment to those in the BFSI space, this is pretty much a route frequently travelled.
Thus, when Times Internet Limited (TIL) jumps on board the bandwagon, it's not really a surprise. The TIL rewards program, TimesPoints, recently kicked off its digital campaign - #IDidntKnow - for users of Times Internet.
Users can earn points reading news articles, watching videos, commenting, sharing, and participating in other activities. These points are akin to real money collected in a digital wallet and are redeemable on multiple TimesPoints partner websites. TimesPoints has an on-going partnership with a host of brands across lifestyle, food, fashion, and travel among others. These include Paytm, Amazon, Myntra, Dineout, ixigo, Big Basket, Big Bazaar, and Bookmyshow.
To better understand the new dimension to the TIL set up, we got in touch with Nidhi Agarwal, TimesPoints' business head, for answers.
Agarwal considers the recent digital campaign - #IDidntKnow - an outcome of periodic surveys the brand conducts to understand their loyalists better. According to her, "This was driven not just to get Times Network users to understand the value of TimesPoints but also to grant frequent users some exclusive benefits like free air tickets etc. to thank them for their journey with us." This is somewhat of a unique undertaking especially from a brand in the digital content publishing space.
Agarwal also informs us that the brand has seen active engagement from users with a 1.5x increase in redeeming users and 10 per cent increase in overall engagement.
Decoding the campaign:
The TimesPoints' digital campaign was designed to create more conversations with loyal users of Times Internet Network properties such as Times of India, NewsPoint, Navbharat Times etc.
The campaign also included the 'TimesPoints Winter Bonanza' wherein all loyalists of the service that made a minimum of two redemptions between December 24th and January 14th were eligible to win prizes worth Rs. 2,00,000 including free flights from ixigo, Google Home, Shopping vouchers, and bonus points.
The campaign saw a 360-degree holistic marketing and publicity approach including influencer engagement that comprised of identifying and looping in popular bloggers and YouTubers who were already TimesPoints loyalists and onboarding actor Aparshakti Khurana. Aside from Aparshakti, each of the influencer content developers also took users through their TimesPoints accrual and redemption journey, showing them how they had benefited using the points on a regular basis. This enabled the celeb and influencers to create internal and external brand advocacy through sharing the TimesPoints experience of Times Internet CXOs as well as key office holders at partner brands.
"Active sharing and communication with media have also helped promote the campaign significantly," Agarwal says, adding, "Leveraging the network of companies across TIL, we accelerated the reward points up to 10x for users. And with in-depth integration with Colombia Ad Network (a smart targeting tool), we leveraged interest-based targeting."
Primarily, Colombia is used for advertisers to reach out to the best suited TG. For TimesPoints, it turned out to be an accelerator for its Winter Bonanza. "It helped us reach out to users to redeem offers based on their interests," Agarwal explains.
While the campaign was primarily aimed at driving conversations and offering exclusive value deals to the existing loyalists of Times Internet, the idea was to also connect with potential users with the lure of effortlessly accruing points and redeem them.
Over to the experts:
Sharing his thoughts on this kind of brand activation, Sharique Khan, vice president - brand solutions, Culture Machine says that this comes across as a good digital rendition of the age-old contest formats followed on television.
The questions that run through the content play-out create a hook for the audience resulting in an increase in time spent by viewers. "This entire activity surely adds more to meet the overall thought process which maybe revolving around proliferation in brand engagement and an increase in viewership, even by new users," Khan views.
The reward program format is similar to credit and membership cards; wherein one earns points against usage that can be redeemed later on.
"I somehow feel that incentivising consumers to engage in a particular product more often is not a new thought process," he states.
Khan feels that the campaign definitely helps Times Digital Network with an increase in its brand reach. However, in his opinion, with better multi-influencer reach and promotional strategy, the campaign would have generated a lot more new eyeballs for the platform.
According to Raghu Bhat, co-founder and copywriter, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, the campaign does showcase the constant evolution in loyalty programs. Now, instead of making consumers spend money in exchange for points, brands are rewarding consumers for their time and actions.
"It's less transactional, creates more engagement and also increases reach as consumers are likely to share their actions," he says. This, Bhat agrees, helps the brand generate valuable insights on usage habits which can be used to refine the product and also help in personalisation. TimesPoints is also using a popular hashtag - #IDidntKnow - to increase impact.
"The next big opportunity with reward programs is to go beyond the product and go into the 'purpose'," Bhat adds. He recalls reading about an online retailer - TOMS (online shoe brand) - who offered reward points if the consumers supported/contributed to a local cause. The brand is into supporting causes in a big way, from ending gun violence to anti-bullying
"This kind of engagement can strike a chord with millennials," Bhat shares.
Google search #DidntKnow throws up many results on Flickr, Instagram and Deskgram