Abid Hussain Barlaskar

The many avatars and roles of 'content'

Generally speaking, content could mean something that takes up an enclosed space, say the contents of a bag or a bottle. In the 'internet' or 'digital' sense of the term, it means information or other material available on a website or other digital media. But then, the 'content' has to either entertain or inform or do both, that is, until recent times. Content today has a higher purpose.

Digital video content doesn't just mean videos on YouTube or web-series on Netflix. It's more than mere text on websites, video on streaming platforms or social media feeds. Among the latest surprises is the video series launched by The Times Group’s Mumbai Mirror, called Mumbai Mirrored. The 5-episode series on Mumbai was conceptualised by Wunderman Thompson, The Times Of India's ad agency on record and directed by the agency's CCO Senthil Kumar.

Vigo Video, a user generated video platform announced a web series in a vertical format. The 'series' is based on the romantic relationships of Divyanka, a popular creator on Vigo. But to what end? Cashing in on user's popularity?

Gaana, an audio streaming platform, aims to include more video to get its millions of users spend more viewing time on the Gaana app.

Walmart-owned e-commerce company Flipkart is introducing ‘Flipkart Videos’, a range of movies, shows and entertainment series for consumers. Flipkart also hired Neha Toteja, an industry hand with experience in major TV media companies including with its rival, Amazon's video arm, to head its OTT service. Flipkart is eyeing the next million consumers that will be coming online from various parts of the country armed with pocket-friendly data and smartphones. It could also be Flipkart's long overdue response to Amazon's Prime Video.

Away from business and strategy, platforms like Tik Tok are brimming with user generated content -- ease of video creation breaks through barriers of literacy and skill. The platform is trying to give direction and monetise the sea of 15 second long vertical videos.

Then there is this whole 'ad vs content' tussle that hasn't yet arrived at a conclusion on which is what. As per an article on The Drum, Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) chief brand officer Marc Pritchard is on a path to “reinvent” advertising. Pritchard's bet is on long-form content that combines filmmaking and advertising. “The reason why it's important is because over-the-top streaming is growing exponentially. That's requiring a whole new level of creativity,” he was quoted saying.

So what really is this thing we call content? The written word and the combination of images on this article qualify as content too.

Industry POV:

Anupam Bokey, CMO, RPSG FMCG (Guiltfree Industries) Too Yumm!
Anupam Bokey, CMO, RPSG FMCG (Guiltfree Industries) Too Yumm!

Anupam Bokey, CMO, RPSG FMCG (Guiltfree Industries) Too Yumm!, says, “Content today is a rather broad and options are unlimited. It is important to create content holistically to fulfill different marketing objectives. For FMCG brands, a TVC is a key piece of content to deliver information and build brand values, it also helps deliver reach and awareness. Activations, digital integrations in OTT, and social amplification provides the best engagement, which helps build stronger convictions on the brand. It also provides more experiential engagement with the brand and also helps reach younger audiences who have started moving away from TV. It gives a better chance for UGC, which further propagates brand building efforts.”

“So, while content and audience differ for platforms, it is important to create different content that engages the target audience in different ways ensuring they work in sync and deliver the best results,” Bokey adds.

Debarpita Banerjee, Managing Partner - FCB FuelContent India and president - North and East, FCB Ulka
Debarpita Banerjee, Managing Partner - FCB FuelContent India and president - North and East, FCB Ulka

Debarpita Banerjee, managing partner - FCB FuelContent India and president - North and East, FCB Ulka says, "The reason why more brands are creating content is because as the clutter increases, the choice for the customer increases, making them increasingly discerning, and choosy. And it becomes more difficult to connect with them, especially if a brand’s ‘buy me’ agenda shows through. Hence, content comes to the rescue. Content is more about storytelling, less about selling. More culture out, than category in. It has the power to connect better, engage better and bring the consumer closer to the brand world.”

Varun Duggirala, co-founder and content chief, The Glitch
Varun Duggirala, co-founder and content chief, The Glitch

Varun Duggirala, co-founder and content chief, The Glitch, says, “The definition of content today is so wide that it can be both all encompassing yet micro-focussed. From an agency POV we’ve actually got the largest playground, because the modern day agency doesn’t just dabble in one form of content as it did before. We look at every creative asset we create from the viewer’s perspective of content, whether it’s a piece of micro content created for someone to pause and press to see more instead of swipe, or telling product stories for consumers leading them down the starry road to purchase or narratives of all durations created to build and propagate brand values. The content lens is as crucial as the creative and strategic lenses are. That’s the space that the word ‘content’ holds in the world of the modern agency, a vast playground where everyone in the organisation not just plays but rather builds themselves in with strong internal skillsets blending with external collaborators.”

“This is because the actual creation of content has moved from being something that would be done outside the purview of the agency world (entirely outsourced to others) to now being something that is created by internal agency 'creators' who apply the creator mindset to not just create but rather collaborate with external artists, creators and influencers who join us in our playground to build something as a collective. So what does content mean to us in a nutshell? Any piece we create that has the brand’s values at the heart of it and is built for the sole purpose of amplifying the same," he adds.

Titus Upputuru, Creative Head, Taproot Dentsu, Gurgaon
Titus Upputuru, Creative Head, Taproot Dentsu, Gurgaon

Titus Upputuru, creative head, Taproot Dentsu, Gurgaon says, “Content, within the context of marketing, is any creative that reminds the consumer of a brand. Previously, what one used to do was advertising. Which meant that the creative sold a product or service or a belief, unabashedly. Washing power Nirma, washing powder Nirma, doodh see safedi! or sona sona naya Rexona or Shilpa chaar chaand lagaye. But with the incredible growth of media and the overwhelming data of internet, consumers are increasingly switching off from advertising. Which is why, we are finding new ways to engage with the consumers. Content is one of them.”

“Content could be creating a story around the brand without trying to hard sell the product. Omron’s Tumhaari Amma was about how a child parents a parent. When the mother asks the daughter why she hadn’t informed that the guy she was bringing home was someone she wanted her mother to marry, the daughter quietly replies, “Somethings are good to know, some things are not”. So within the storyline, we cleverly placed the brand message. Young people liked, loved and shared the over 6 minute long video and Omron became top of mind in a low involvement category like blood pressure monitors,” Upputuru concludes.

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