Ignorable ads, decreased attention span, reduced tolerance levels for promotional material, branded content is known to solve these problems, but an overabundance of content brings a different set of challenges. Here we resolve this concern and explain how this marketing method can drive productive results for businesses on Instagram.
In conversation with Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing, Spotify India, and Arun Srinivas, Director - Global Business Group, Facebook India, we understand the state of branded content on Instagram, the significance of this advertising technique, and tips to ace in this arena.
The State Of Content Consumption
Content Consumption is arguably the only metric that has constantly stayed on elevated peaks on all mediums but particularly social media platforms. In-home productions, remote collaborations, and advanced technology have been able to sustain relevancy and cater to the growing appetite of consumers through the pandemic.
Srinivas mentions the platforms have observed a dramatic surge in the acceleration of digital consumption and penetration. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced a lot of users to come onto digital platforms, discover new brands here, and carry out transactions. Large, medium, and small businesses across industries, are reimagining business models to pivot on Facebook and Instagram.
Ahuja shares that moments of consumption may have changed, but consumption especially in the audio format has jumped to the higher end. Podcast consumption has observed a huge uptick and topics such as mental health, and self-help has been sought-after.
She shares a metric from the Spotify Culture Next Report 2021 that states 87% of millennials and 78% of Gen-Zs in India agree that audio reduces their stress levels.
The Significance Of Branded Content
Contemporarily, brands have numerous channels to target multiple sets of audiences, but there are several hurdles and the huge gap between the communication coming through a brand till it reaches the viewer's eyes.
Yet from the period of Doordarshan, when the national broadcaster created 30-minute content shows presented by products being advertised, till the dawn of 15-seconders, an entertaining, educational, unique, or engaging concept has been able drive conversational interest in a brand.
Ahuja states that branded content has been a part of the multimedia mix for every campaign by Spotify India. It also adds a layer of storytelling to topical conversations and supports a full-funnel approach and aid in building consumption and retention.
Branded Content bridges the gap between awareness and affinity.
Neha Ahuja, Head of Marketing, Spotify India
In terms of digital ad spends that branded content is supported by, Srinivas shares that traditional mediums were ahead in the media mix before the pandemic, but digital ad spends is now pretty close. It has been used as a supplementary medium but now it's becoming mainstream as it brings all constituents - brands, celebrities, and audiences together.
The Content Trends
The rapidly evolving digital landscape may throw marketers off course if they are not aligned with current inclinations or understand the present fad. Here experts share a few trends that can be incorporated into the content strategy.
Srinivas states that diverse, vernacular, and regional content is the current driver in India, and people adopting digital presently are inclined towards this kind of content.
Ahuja shares that India is not one country, it's several countries in one, and the consumers are heterogeneous, and marketers need to be mindful of that. "There can't be one single piece of branded content that will work across the country.
The Favorite Campaigns
The industry experts share their favorite campaigns that aced the proficiency for producing and distributing branded content.
Srinivas shares two of his favorite examples:
Free To Love - Close Up
For Valentine's Day 2021, Close Up launched its campaign showcasing personal stories of several celebrities and influencers that oppose conventional norms or societal stereotypes. Targeted at the group 18-40 years, using branded content ads, the campaign resulted in 4.4 points lift in Ad Recall, and 6.6 points lift among the 18-24-year-old age group.
#LetsUnStereoTypeIndia - Red Label
This series of conversational content intended to tackle gender typecasts, mental wellbeing, language, ageism, and particularly labels that females are stuck to from the bygone age.
The brand collaborated with several personalities such as Dia Mirza, and creators, for this campaign targeted the age group of 25+ years, predominantly females. The campaign landed 8.7 points in Ad Recall, and 3.8 points lift in Message Recall.
Ahuja shares her favorite branded content campaign by Spotify.
#SpotifyWaliHoli - Spotify India
Spotify partnered with Instagram to promote their Holi special playlist through 40+ celebrities and creators communicating to their audiences through Reels. The campaign generated 60 Mn views collectively and the 'Holi Ke Rang' playlist ranked among the top three most consumed playlists on Spotify for the week.
Tips To Ace Branded Content
Ahuja and Srinivas share their tips to produce and distribute efficient branded content:
- Figure out who you're talking to, what they consume, and package your communication accordingly
- Brands who already have a celebrity ethos can tap branded content effectively
- Take a full-funnel marketing approach that goes from awareness to consideration
- The proposition put out should be in line with what works for the brand's audience
- Reels can reach a large number at scale with a short-form communication
- Small businesses should scale up what they stand for before moving to branded content
- Stay true to the core message and collaborate with authentic voices
- Try to hit a nerve
- Leverage a personality's fandom, talk to the consumer through the right mouth
- Stay in your zone, if you don't have the right to talk about a topic, don't jump into a conversation
- Don't measure everything, concentrate on the learnings too
- Look at branded content as different from an ATL campaign
- Treat it like a piece of content, not a 30-second ad