Monisha Singh Katial
Content has changed drastically and so has the way we consume it. Imagine this — when I was growing up, I used to sit with my family in front of the television and watch the shows they preferred. Most of the times, we would end up watching news, which would obviously be all Greek to me. As kids, we had no other option but to watch whatever was collectively decided. It was definitely a power struggle for the TV remote all the way.
Things have changed and today, my children pick not just their favourite shows but even narrow down on a specific episode from it. Thus, as Bob Dylan would put it The Times They Are A-Changin’. From family viewing we are moving towards individual viewing and today, one has several avenues that allow viewers to command their own choices. It’s like coming across Aladdin’s Genie who gives you not three but an infinite set of wishes to choose from as long as you are willing to pay just a little bit extra for a high speed data connection. And if browsing through shows and movies available is too much of a task, just ask Google and voila — it recommends a show based on your personality and consumption habits.
As a viewer today, you no longer need to wait. You can watch what you want and when you want it. More importantly, there are also no limitations on censorship around digital content. Numerous digital platforms, right from Facebook to YouTube and Snapchat, are providing opportunities to new talent like never before. From Lilly Singh as Superwoman to Gaurav Gera as Shopkeeper, the new generation of digital stars enjoy enormous following among the youth. The evolving digital ecosystem has provided them with the necessary support and has enabled them to reach millions of fans across the country, purely on the basis of the content they create. These stars and their content travels across various digital platforms reaching out to a larger user base, that too at very reasonable costs. Such is the power and real-ness of content today.
So what does this mean for content creators and advertisers? The answer is simple. It’s party time! Since all these digital stars, despite having low production requirements and minimal working budgets, manage to garner such a huge fan base, advertisers are in for a real game changer. They are looking at greater audience engagement at lower spends and across more domains — effectively allowing them to cater to every niche genre that exists. Advertisers backing such talent are seeing effective results. Today, more often than not, one can see such internet sensations promoting movies, events and brands. What content creators have basically challenged is the RoI on a billboard banner and that’s a great achievement in itself.
In times to come, content shall become platform agnostic. Content creators shall let their imaginations run even wilder, for there is space for all ideas, while catering to specific age groups and communities. This will make it a lot easier for advertisers to push their brands to specific communities and increase conversions, leading to engagement metrics becoming the new benchmark instead of views.
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That being said, a couple of challenges could still plague us. First, basic or just ads may not work anymore. Branded content is expected to become the new mantra and how advertisers incubate and help such content creators shall be pivotal. If advertisers help them grow, they would help advertisers grow multifold. The second issue is related to how gaps between diverse communities are being bridged and this shall be very crucial for success. While similar content formats appeal to comparable age groups across demographics, having this content in a slew of languages that reach a larger audience, will be key.
But whatever the case may be, considering media shifts that are taking place, IP owners and creators shall be the new age stars. Content will have the ability to travel across platforms, content creators and advertisers will collaborate and users/consumers will be spoilt for choice.
The author is VP — content & strategy, BookMyShow