#TheSocialCMO Stickiest content comes from the southern belt with highest consumption: Avneesh Khosla, Vi

Avneesh Khosla Vi Interview

In conversation with Social Samosa, Avneesh Khosla from Vi speaks at length on the brand’s marketing strategy, the evolving role of telecom players in the pandemic, and how content is the hero of all things engagement with the changing consumer needs.

Since its inception, Vi, as a brand has attempted to stay at the forefront of digital accelerations with more digital services and innovations in the space. Avneesh Khosla, Chief Marketing Officer, Vi, speaks at length about various marketing and content initiatives taken by the brand to stay ahead of the changing consumer behavior.

Edited Excerpts:

Please take us through the #SpeedSeBadho campaign journey – right from the insights to execution – how did it pan out? What kind of a role does the campaign play in helping the brand achieve its business objective? 

Work from Home, online learning, virtual celebrations, and entertainment have become integral to our daily lives during this pandemic. Telecom services are a lifeline for millions of Indians and a catalyst for many of us to thrive and build a better tomorrow – rediscover our passions, learn new skills – as well as build new business models. Today, Indians are looking for ways and means to achieve their ambitions and get ahead in life. 

Things we do digitally when backed by the fastest 4G, can give wings to endless possibilities, enabling people to discover and achieve their passions & more. The latest campaign, #SpeedSeBadho is our attempt to narrate these passionate stories, which are backed by Vi GIGAnet. 

Now, the Tongue Twisters are associated with speed and were always an integral part of our childhood memories. As a way to cherish them, the campaign leverages tongue twisters to narrate the story. Our digital-focused communication reiterates how Vi’s 4G, verified by Ookla, has helped customers to thrive and move ahead in life.

A lot has been said about the pandemic changing consumer behavior, how is this applicable to the Telecom industry? Which are the top consumption patterns observed during this time?

With Work from Home and more, the entire digital ecosystem is dependent on telecom networks to avail of an array of products and services being delivered digitally. We noticed a demand in these segments with consumers opting for these services. Since the last year, consumers are actively on digital platforms – working, learning, accessing healthcare services, shopping, binge-watching, etc. 

This paradigm shift has affirmed our focus on the content and partnership model. In our collaborative approach to offer relevant and useful services to our customers, we have partnered with brands across Health, Education, Entertainment/Content areas to offer more value to our customers. 

Video consumption continues to surge. We observe this across Vi Movies and TV while witnessing an increased consumption in both short-format & Live TV Consumption. 

It is interesting to note the live TV surge especially as it was always a TV viewing phenomenon with family. 

Originals as a category grew with people adopting to watching various good stories being narrated across platforms in the past year. The stickiest content comes from the southern belt with the highest consumption. 

Vi launches Premium-Video-On-Demand (PVOD) service on Vi Movies & TV App, in association with Hungama Play. What is the idea behind the association and the way forward, in the context?

Indians spent 31 billion minutes watching movies in February as free telecom bundling that helped increase the number of OTT subscriptions via smartphone users. This number beats the age-old hypothesis that movie watchers will only watch a film in a cinema hall. 

Over the past year, consumer behavior has shifted, and they now gravitate towards OTT platforms for new content. More and more OTT platforms are buying digital-first movies or producing new content to up their subscription numbers with films as the main lever.

We, at Vi, believe many consumers are interested in watching movies on demand (Movies is the third biggest industry in this country after religion and cricket). We want to offer PVOD services to customers looking for movies specifically and who are not willing to commit to multiple OTT subscriptions for just films. 

A great product, good content titles, and a telco pipeline that reaches the length and breadth of the country is the recipe for building this market. PVOD market in India is at a nascent stage, but it is an untapped market with potential.

With the ongoing pandemic, consumers want to watch premium titles from their couch, with family or friends & are willing to share a small amount from their wallet for that one-time entertainment. For example, we saw a huge surge in numbers on the digital launch of Jack Snyder’s -Justice League & Wonder Woman 1984 during the digital premiere this month. It solidifies the hypothesis that the market is evolving & willing to pay. 

How did digital experiences and social media help you keep people hooked and hopeful? Could you tell us about some of the key campaigns in the last year?

Our efforts during this period have been in creating a digital-first brand that provides an experience of relevance and delight to our customers. Some of the significant key campaigns last year were:  

Launch of GIGAnet: Post the integration of two brands Vodafone and Idea, it was time for an integrated network. Thus, GIGAnet was launched to identify the re-energized network and today GIGAnet represents the fastest 4G experience in the country

Also, to offer a personalized experience we launched a personalized caller tune service and a personalized AR Filter.

Happy Surprises, Vi Ki Pehli Diwali, and the brand’s Christmas campaign where we brought ‘working from home Santa’ who sent gifts through all Santas already out there. Users could scan any Santa through our portal/Vi app to get their gifts.

Also read: #TheSocialCMO Facebook yielded maximum results in creating awareness: Ajay Dhyani, Timex Group

Content and Influencer marketing have found a prominent presence in every marketer’s guide. How has Vi leveraged the trends?

Relevance and snapshots from daily lives are two key pillars of influencer marketing content. Since the #SpeedSeBadho campaign ticked these checkboxes, influencer marketing was a natural extension of the initiative. As a part of the campaign, we partnered with influencers across the country like Kenny Sebastian, Prapti Elizabeth, along with actor Maera Mishra, Himanshi Khurrana of Big Boss Fame, composer-singer Vasuki Vaibhav, etc. and urged people to participate using the hashtag of #SpeedSeBadho.

We will continue to use content and influencers as and when it has a seamless fit with what we are trying to do and helps engage with the users better.

What are the tools and criteria put in place to gauge the ROI from digital marketing? 

Every campaign on digital is designed basis the objective, target audience, and the type of communication/engagement that we would like to drive. 

We closely track every activity from its inception to the last stage by deploying robust attribution models to study the impact on the metrics/KPIs. Also, we strongly focus on measuring incrementally on each channel as that is the true measurement of ROI.

Vi seems to be venturing into Live Sports as well, with its recent collaboration with Disney+ Hotstar. What does this collaboration entail? What are your thoughts on sports marketing in 2021?

Sports is a religion in India especially cricket. Live sports has always been a high-interest category among all consumers irrespective of gender. Keeping in line with our partnership-driven content strategy, we had collaborated with Disney+ Hotstar that offers subscriptions across our post-paid and pre-paid offerings to satiate exactly that need. 

All new and existing customers can avail of the offer and watch sports leagues and series, besides watching films, Hotstar originals on the VIP Subscription. 

How would you define the ‘Marketer of Today’? How much of your marketing skills have evolved with the changing times? Your Mantra for success?

The ‘Marketer of Today’ is someone who is agile and constantly keeping themselves informed and abreast of a world that is rapidly changing and evolving. 

We see a distinct need for marketers to marry the creative context with the power of data and technology to offer solutions that cut through the clutter. 

They need to have a sound understanding of human behavior and changing cultural and social trends to continue and explore how their brand can offer relevant and meaningful narratives to reach the end customer in a simple, effective, and engaging way which leads to strong brand love and consideration.

Top 3 tips you would like to share with the industry leaders for marketing in the Telecom sector in the post-COVID world?

Covid-19 has brought a paradigm shift in the world of communication and telecom has evolved from just a voice and data connectivity platform to a comprehensive digital services provider. We believe that we need to partner with our consumers and help them move forward and together build a better tomorrow and we are convinced of building a digital-first brand, having launched Vi amidst COVID-19 restrictions.

  • Hence, offering a personalized experience is important. Today, with the available data it’s easy to offer a personalized experience that is more relevant and engaging.
  • Today, consumers get exposed to over 2000 brands a day and remember only 4-5 brands. And getting acknowledged despite a low attention span is crucial. Hence it has to be relevant yet engaging and a stand-out. 
  • Digital is changing the way people think hence it’s changing the way brands are built. It’s important to remain rooted in reality. Hence, adapting to the new mediums and telling the story according to the medium, be it the mobile or large screen, is essential.