Content branding and contextual marketing on TV shows

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The concept of breaks could become a thing of the past if Indian television is properly digitized. The TRAI has recently proposed that ad inventory of the broadcasters be reduced. This has already led to some of the top television channels such as Zee News to increase their rates and bring down their aggregate time for commercials.

This proposal is expected to create problems for the advertisers. Now the broadcasters’ dependence on advertising as a form of carriage fees will be lesser than before. With greater digitization, the issue of under-reporting by subscribers will be taken care of as well.

As far as the consumers are concerned there will be lesser obstructions during their viewing time. They will have the choice of paying for channels that they prefer to watch instead of having to be content with a default package.

The advertisers will now need to look at alternatives as their time on TV is slated to be reduced – TV is the most cost efficient medium of advertisement and provides these organizations with the maximum reach. It is here that contextual advertising and content branding could help them.

The advertisers are already increasing their expenses in these domains and now the lines between the mass media (above the line) and activations marketing (below the line) are getting blurred.

Content branding is different from conventional advertising which is shown within the TV programs. This process calls for purchase or creation of original content. It is not as in your face as mainstream advertising and can be used in the following areas aside from television advertisements:

  • Movie content – in film placements
  • Internet
  • Social media

One example of such content is the Coke Studio. Media agencies, on their part, have been wasting no time in creating teams that can handle these projects. Liquid Thread, the branded content program of the Starcom Mediavest Group (SMG), was started in 2011 itself.

The MD of Liquid Thread and Chairman of SMG India, CVL Srinivas, has said that the organization is looking forward to go that extra mile in terms of branding content. They are looking to move away from normal soap or in-film placements. The organization is now looking to create conversation among communities.

The team is led by a former India business head of Miditech, Manisha Tripathi, and is collaborating with buying, digital, and creative teams in mainstream media to make the most of their new as well as existing content.

Darshana Bhalla, who operates as the CEO of MATES, which is the entertainment division of Madison, states that branded content is really useful when it comes to making a campaign look its best. Advertising on TV has now become a large bubble that has lot of noise. There are certain organizations that exploring the concept of branded content as important part of their campaigns.

The advertisers now need to look at other ways of generating similar levels of interest with the reducing ad time. Bhalla has pointed out that entertaining content around brand communication is dissimilar to traditional advertising creatives and vanilla program sponsorships.

Branding content, too, has become better than before. In-film product placements have become commonplace nowadays. Agencies are nowadays opting to integrate the key aspects of their clients’ brands from the script writing stage itself. One question that comes up in this regard is if the clients are ready to accept these innovations?

The chief marketing officer of Marico, Sameer Satpathy, has stated that his non TV expense has increased during the years. 5 years back Marico used to spend 97 percent of its marketing budget on TV ads but the rate has come down to 80% as of now. In 2011 Marico employed a flash mob to promote Revive, its starch brand, during the Durga Puja in Kolkata.

According to Satpathy such initiatives are more engaging for the consumers. Reaching out to the same number of costumers has now become more expensive for the companies. This has also made it imperative for the brands to depend on focused campaigns instead of television spots. It recently joined hands with Bengali band Chandrabindoo and came up with a music video titled Jaani Naa.

The ad did not feature too much of branding but the tongue-in-cheek lyrics made sure that the brand message – natural healthcare with ingredients like coconut and methi – was properly portrayed. The ad was already being aired on YouTube and various FM stations before it was introduced on television. This strategy ensured that the ad was viewed a lot.

The Vice President of Consumer Engagement and Digital at Bharti Airtel, Vikrant Khanna, states that it is a global trend now that brands are creating their own programs and not waiting for spots on existing shows. So nowadays these companies are focusing on their own programs rather than sponsoring other shows.

He says one of the major reasons behind this trend is the fact that the youth nowadays does not evaluate programs on the basis of sponsorships they get and instead prefer original content. This is why Airtel recently opted to come up with several original short films about various types of friends – these were shown at the YouTube and highlighted their various features.

Khanna has also talked about his organization’s association with Formula One in India. He says that the idea was not only to partner with the event that has the second biggest viewership across the world – the main aim was to increase user participation. Airtel created a show for this purpose on Zoom channel to select the grid girls.

Change in the following concepts has now made it almost mandatory for organizations to look outside TV advertisements:

  • Second screen
  • Consumer posts
  • Consumer research

In the last couple of years Airtel’s expenses in content branding have increased substantially. The marketing heads of various companies are now making preparations to deal with different agency teams as they realize that the ideas for these kinds of integrated campaigns can originate from sources like the following:

  • PR team
  • Digital team
  • Creative team

Companies are nowadays working more and more as the full service agencies of the previous years. Jehil Thakkar, the head of the Media and Entertainment division of KPMG, reveals that TV ads have been unsuccessful in the US in spite of time shift viewing that has happened owing to recorders, and digitization.

The suggestions by the TRAI may not be implemented as rules in the foreseeable future as only the leading brands in different genres have been performing well. According to Thakkar, the bigger broadcasters are going to focus more on self regulation and the smaller channels will still depend on ad revenue.

Not all advertisers can ignore the television as they will need this medium to get access to rural audience, which is yet to learn and get used to other media. The agencies themselves know the challenges that face them. Srinivas has stated that content branding will be used to supplement traditional advertising and not replace it. The main reason behind this is the fact that the measurements for such form of branding are yet to be computed accurately.

As per Bhalla, the advertisers have to improve their measuring tools to understand the full effect of the aggregate media that are being used in such campaigns. Till now, formats driven by the return on investment model have been prominent but a better grip is necessary for understanding the success of qualitative branding among adults.

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Last Updated on 4/27/2012

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