Content marketing has been hailed as the hottest marketing platform with global content marketing revenue set to touch $313 billion in 2019, according to PQ Media’s ‘Global Content Marketing Forecast 2015-19’. No wonder then that a host of start-ups are springing up across the world, including India, to grab a piece of that pie. Spiral Content is one such start-up that was launched early this year by Rajan Srinivasan, former CEO of IBNLive.com, along with former Network18 colleague Mahip Singh and serial entrepreneur Pratik Poddar. A content marketplace for brands, at the fulcrum is its proprietary tool Scatter which curates content from Indian and international publishers, and makes it available for brands on different digital platforms for a fee.
Spiral Content has already got several big brands including Horlicks Women, Club Mahindra, Maruti, Gionee, ICICI Lombard, Bharti AXA and Kotak Securities on its client list to whom it makes available content from publishers such as India Today, Indian Express, IBT Media, Business Today, Khaleej Times, OneIndia, Rolling Stone, Man’s World, Gizbot and others. In this interview with FE BrandWagon’s Anushree Bhattacharyya, Srinivasan speaks about the Scatter business model, how it can help publishers reach out to readers beyond their distribution network while helping brands engage and influence customers. Edited excerpts:
How does Scatter work? What is you revenue model for Scatter?
The tool is very simple. Each brand that has subscribed to Scatter has an account with which it can advertise on any kind of content. Our tool can help the brand pick up content from those writers or their blogs, etc., who are our partners. For example, a soap brand which has an account on Scatter can access content related to its product category. The brand can buy any such content and the web page where the content is visible will now have the brand’s advertisement. After mobile and social, content is the next hot thing and we are here to facilitate content owners and brands to come together.
Scatter charges marketers for the content. The lowest common denominator for text content is cost per word. However we have made it easier for brands, by charging for the number of articles purchased. We then share revenue with publishers for all the content purchased from them.
You have been in the content marketing business for long. So when did the idea to launch Scatter strike you?
Brands have been talking about content since the last two years. As the traffic on the internet kept increasing, the need for content was increasingly. While working at Network18 we had realised that content would be a hot space in the future. As far as launching Scatter is concerned, I was basically looking at developing a tool that would allow me to serve the dual interests of both advertisers and publishers.
How did advertisers react? How difficult was it to convince them to invest in the platform?
I have never heard the phrase ‘this is very interesting’ more than I have in the recent past. Advertisers then started talking to us about their content challenges which is not just restricted to social media. Actually, it’s a lot more than social. This also helped us to give a better shape to the product so that it would appeal to them. Already, many brands are using it. We have Horlicks from the house of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). We first bagged Horlicks Women, then Horlicks Kids. We also work with Club Mahindra, Maruti, Gionee and a few more clients in the banking and financial services category such as ICICI Lombard and Bharti AXA, Kotak Securities. E-commerce companies too are expected to join the bandwagon soon.
What are your expansion plans?
Every quarter we will do something new. We will either have better versions of Scatter or launch new products. We will introduce new tools based on the needs of our existing as well as potential clients. We also have global ambitions. In fact, we have already launched our service in the Middle East market, and have tied up with publications such as Khaleej Times. We expect to rope in more content players. We have found a partner in the Middle East and we plan to announce this officially in September.
How has content marketing evolved with time?
If earlier it took three days to create 20 lines of content, today it takes as little as three hours to create that much content and even more. That is the big shift. The demand for content has increased with time. The challenge resides in pointing out to brands that a lot of third party content is being created keeping the interest of consumers in mind, which at the same time can be used by brands to spread their brand messages.
What kind of role do you see Scatter playing in the space of content?
With more and more professionals getting into creating tailormade content for brands and their specific needs, you’ll find more and more takers for our tool Scatter. For example, BBC recently launched a section called, ‘Story telling’. A legacy brand like BBC taking such a step tells the importance of using content to stay connected with consumers/viewers. Also, Scatter is designed to meet a brand’s every need through content so that the brand can be part of the content.