Mumbai: Early this year, when retail chain Shoppers Stop Ltd uploaded new videos on YouTube and Facebook , it did not expect the short promotions would increase its engagement scores with consumers as much as five times.
In a bid to tap into the growing demand for original content from advertisers such as Shoppers Stop, Group M, the media agency from the WPP Group, has forged an alliance with 04 Digital Media Pvt. Ltd, a company promoted by Optimystix Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd, the television production house known for shows such as Crime Patrol and Comedy Circus, to create original content for advertisers.
The new initiative, called Mash Up, is a content-led brand solutions company with a focus on video-led engagement. The alliance has already signed up clients such as Airtel, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Shoppers Stop and Skoda.
Experts say the market is ripe for such services as advertisers try and reach consumers, who are increasingly watching content and programming on mobile phones and tablets.
The consumption of Internet videos is growing in India as consumers spend approximately 19 billion minutes watching videos online every month, according to Group M. There were nearly 80% more video views in 2012 than in 2011, and the current market size in India amounts to over 43 million monthly unique viewers, and over 3.3 billion monthly video streams, it said.
“Internet video consumption is expected to further increase sixfold by 2016,” said C.V.L. Srinivas, chief executive, South Asia, at Group M.
The Internet audience size was crossing the English-speaking audience size in India and video had a larger role to play, considering the format had universal appeal, Srinivas said.
The cost of producing content for digital media is substantially lower than producing an ad film for traditional media such as television, which is an expensive medium.
The key challenge, say advertisers, is to provide content that is engaging and goes beyond a quick edit of a brand’s television commercial.
For advertisers who manage to get it right, such content can reap huge rewards, say experts.
“This is a medium based on pull, versus traditional advertising which is based on push. Hence, the stickiness and engagement is significantly higher,” said Vinay Bhatia, senior vice-president, marketing and loyalty, at Shoppers Stop. The company had approved of 25 how-to videos early this year in the hope of engaging with its customers in a more meaningful way.
“Everything so far has been about the brand because we’ve had a captive audience, starting from the early days when the guy was strapped to the sofa, and there was no remote; he just had to sit and watch,” said Sanjiv Sharma, chief executive and executive chairman, Optimystix, which has created such content for brands such as Airtel in the past. “But today, consumers log on to YouTube and seek content.”
In the case of Shoppers Stop, all the videos feature merchandise available at its stores.
“All of these videos (shot) are about fashion and (feature) merchandise we sell at the store. So, for instance, the video that shows consumers how to knot a tie will end with a link to our e-commerce site, where the consumer can actually buy one,” said Bhatia of Shoppers Stop.
While the videos may not prompt the consumer to buy immediately, they work towards building a relationship with the brand, which can be leveraged when the consumer is ready to spend, said Bhatia.
But do these investments actually pay off? Especially considering that often, the number of likes on Facebook don’t always translate into sales for brands. “TV commercials don’t translate into sales and neither do digital videos. Both of them seek to build brands by increasing awareness and preference. However digital videos have to live up to a higher standard of vitality. You would almost never forward a television commercial to a friend. But brands want you to find their videos interesting enough for you to forward to your friends,” says Mahesh Murthy, founder and chief executive for Pinstorm, a pay-for-performance digital marketing firm.