The Indian #MeToo campaign has given a huge blow to the film and digital media companies, with companies dissolving, CEOs and founders stepping down and brands shying away from advertising on various OTT platforms.
This is the time to address the biggest elephant in the room, content. It is about time as media agencies, channels and digital platforms, we understand that in today’s age and time, content is king and it is imperative that we are not insensitive, sexist, racist or offensive. Mocking a particular gender or an archetypical character can no longer be considered comedy. It’s time we took the responsibility of being 'media' and put a thought into what we are saying, how we are saying it. So, what are the things that one should keep in mind while creating content and planning a brand campaign.
In the process of shifting focus from television to digital, all brands and media planners looked at the digital space from the myopic view of television planning. They applied the rules of the reach objective but somewhere forgot the content rules of no skin, no abusive language etc. Everyone was only after the reach numbers and no one actually sat and analysed how these numbers were achieved. The entire plan was based on what is the ROI and cost per reach. The base that television numbers are extrapolated since they are measured basis a sample size, whereas digital numbers are actual numbers. This was completely over looked. Also, in most organisations the digital marketing team and brand teams are separate they competed for the pie of the same marketing budget where the measurement matrix was purely ROI. Impact was the job of only the creative agency and the medium of advertisement has no relevance for the same.
The survival matrix of any OTT platform was the brands digital media spends which are lesser than their television spends but the reach objectives had to be met. It is expensive to garner reach in the digital medium. Cost per reach is high and retention of viewer and subscribers is a constant battle. The content providers were in a catch 22 situation. They had to have the 1 million views mark to attract sponsors. How do you reach that mark without spending the money and keeping the business bottom line intact?
Content: Content is King
Typically, in the digital world there were no rules, there is no TRAI. The easiest way to garner reach is thoughtless, borderline bullying comedy or else show of skin. Coming from traditional medium like television I was surprised to see how big brands launched their OTT platforms on the back of overly sexualised content. Yes, the amazing reach numbers on the launch date were superb but how did these brands forget that the audience doesn’t take to 'adult' content with love. This strategy has today backfired for most OTT platforms. Brands even advertised on these platforms to justify the spends with ROI. Somewhere they forget that they are upsetting a huge no of their target audiences which are women for most FMCG brands.
So, while choosing which platform to advertise on please do look out for what is the content offered on that platform, who is watching the content check for the ratio of fake id’s and real people. This will give u an idea if the ROI is actually achieved or not. Also, don’t compare television numbers with digital numbers since the base itself is different.
Check what is the reach of the OTT platform v/s spends. Organic reach today is very limited because of the changed algorithms of YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
Hence if its regular content that the website/OTT platform is offering see if it resonates with the brand ethos, check if the ratio of organic reach, spends and then evaluate reach number basis these parameters. Pure numbers might not be a great matrix for decision making.
What should be the strategy of any OTT platform?
Content: The same content that runs on television cannot resonate with the digital audience. The fact that television and film censorship standards do not apply to the digital space is a responsibility that needs to be utilised with purpose and meaning. Digital medium demands creativity and not mediocrity. There are other ways to attract attention. Ikea India launch attracted attention by simply incorporating a local auto rickshaw in Hyderabad. Content creators have to be sensitive about the audience and also the brands.
Spends: Organic reach is limited but then spend on digital mediums to garner reach. Explain the spends to brands and add that to the cost. YouTube has managed to increase costs of advertising effectively. It is difficult and slow, but will work as a long-term strategy.
Lastly, brands have to look deeper into the digital media plans and see where their advertisement is being showcased. Choose platforms carefully and consider a higher ROI to reach the right target audience. Reaching the right target audience at the right time with the correct messaging is the key to new age digital media plans.
(The author is founder and marketing director, The Tribal Box.)