Outside the Hard Rock Cafe, venue of the Campaign India Digital Crest Awards 2013 (CIDCA), a compelling conversation was underway. It was about the power of content. And why brands need to respond to the new reality with action.
Engagement is the name of the game. It becomes even more critical when ad avoidance is a reality, at least at the upper end of the consumer pyramid. And with the pyramid morphing into a diamond (thank you, McKinsey), newer media and consumption through them get catalysed.
TV commercials still rule with unparalleled power over emotions that few other formats can have. Much has been said about DVRs. Conversations indicate that TV ads will remain relevant in India for a while, definitely for far longer than the three to five-year time frame some digital ‘pundits’ are punting on.
Where these films are viewed will change, only a little slower in India than in markets where broadband is actually broad enough to stream content sans roadblocks, affordably. Even then, we do know that the format of the audio-visual storytelling and engagement rules, irrespective of the medium used to view it. And this makes the case for investing in compelling content in the video format even stronger.
While the coming 4G wave and improved access can enable offtake of digital media consumption, it is a trap for those investing in technology without paying heed to the content. More so in the case of a brand. The key thing is that ad avoidance on the Web or through the Mobile is far easier and common place than it is on the TV screen.
TV gets consumed for its content, and ads play on. If you can afford it, you can avoid them altogether. Else, you can switch channels. Or wait. Or take a break.
With the internet as it stands today, a consumer virtually has the choice to watch or avoid anything, given the active nature of engagement with the Web. If Youtube ensures that you watch an ad, it also allows the option of shutting them out before they end. And you will endure any wait if and only if the ensuing content is compelling enough. You might open another window until the forced ad plays out. The choices online to consume any category of content far exceed what is available on TV.
Even a contest or game is more engaging thanks to film. Mentos, with its Batti Jalao contest, has a few messages to awaken us. So what if the engagement is incentivised by a Rs 25 lakh prize? It still has to be told engagingly for people to listen, get drawn in, and act. Mentos did just that. On TV. And on the Web.
We all know what Kolaveri Di and Gangnam Style have achieved in terms of popularity. In the viral marketing category of CIDCA 2013 were two Gold winners. One was a two-minute film for Mahindra Four Wheelers that made its debut on the Web. It was very much a film, a shorter edit of which ran on TV. The other was an animated film for Expedia.in, featuring a ‘Rajnee’ and ‘Chuck Narris’. Results mattered at CIDCA and Golds were rare. Films worked.
Any content, when compelling enough, will take wing with the power of virality. It’s not for nothing that ‘share-worthy’ is on the checklist of most creatives going out of the shop floor today. For that to happen, brands need to invest in content that – as the head of a digital agency pointed out – is of interest to the consumer, with a connect to the brand. The irony is that content that brands are churning out, for most part, stems from the brand, is rooted in the brand, and attempts to engage the consumer from where it is.
This has to change. Because the consumer will choose content s/he wants to see. And they will consume more of it, through more media. If a brand comes along, they may not mind, especially if it’s free.
More than anyone else, brands have the resources at their disposal to create such content, or partner those creating it. And more than anyone else - and ever before - they need to figure ways to engage consumers.