Road To 2022: Many content development opportunities to arise in Web 3.0: Priyanka Padode Sheth, Pocket Aces

Akanksha Nagar
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Priyanka Padode Sheth

In conversation with Social Samosa, Priyanka Padode Sheth from Pocket Aces, talks about the evolving content marketing space and what plans the company has in the pipeline for 2022.

Content marketing has emerged as a significant marketing strategy in the last few years. Priyanka Padode Sheth, Brand Solutions and Client Servicing Lead at Pocket Aces, believes that there is now more understanding and awareness of content marketing in the post-pandemic world than it was there in pre-pandemic times.

Padode told Social Samosa, that while there is still some education left for marketers and she foresees much more brands being open to content in 2022.

She further discussed the right metrics to measure the RoI on content marketing and how Pocket Aces is aiming to drive much more conversations around the gaming industry.

Edited excerpts:

Content Marketing has come a long way to a time where brands now strike long-term deals with OTT platforms. In the current, post-pandemic world - how would you define content marketing? Do you think Indian brands grasp the concept of content marketing well?

Over the last few years, content marketing has evolved. Even the understanding of brands has evolved. Compared to even just a few years ago, brands were not so educated and we were telling seasoned brands what really content marketing was all about and how the same would benefit them. However, post-pandemic, the understanding has deepened just because content as a sector has exploded.

Whether it is OTT or digital content, people are seeing content day in and day out in their lives much more than they used to see or pay attention to pre-pandemic. It's almost like the pandemic has educated people on this content sector. It's been a very rapid education that may have taken a lot more time had the pandemic not happened, which has, in fact, been beneficial to us. The education part that we needed to do prior to helping brands understand the benefits in part has been taken care of by this phenomenon.

There is more understanding and awareness, although there is still some education left, so it is a work in progress and brands are not all there yet. Also, in addition to a lot of start-ups or new-age brands, a lot of traditional brands have now started to think about content as an avenue for marketing, which was definitely not on the roster before. They are definitely considering it as a very viable stream and experimenting with it. This whole thing has further helped us (Pocket Aces) on the client front.

How do you see the content marketing space evolving in 2022? Are brands increasing their budget in the same?

I definitely do see brands being much more open to content now. Of course, budgets are dependent on their own marketing objectives. But in terms of the pie, there's going to be more consideration being given to the content marketing pie. And in terms of the content landscape, I definitely see three different ways in which the content will really grow in 2022. First, OTT and studio business will see a lot more originals coming in. Influencer marketing is growing considerably, for us it's managed by our talent management division Clout. I also foresee a lot of development possible in Web 3.0 -whether it is crypto or NFTs.

While we have to keep our eyes on the legal implications of crypto exchanges and cryptocurrencies from a government standpoint, from a content perspective, it is going to be a way for people to digitally own their favourite content IPs.

It will provide people with the exclusivity that this virtual ownership may provide, which I do think is the way forward from a content perspective.

Also read: How AI is helping to boost content marketing

Do you feel there still remain RoI measurement-related challenges in the content space and how the same can be resolved?

New brands who have not done content before may not understand what are the right RoI metrics to be gauged. For many brands because of traditional advertising, they usually believe that RoI equals sales. It's always been a challenge to educate brands, but addressing head-on in the beginning on different RoI metrics that the brand ought to consider for the campaign to be successful, has helped us.

Gradually brands have understood that RoI doesn't equal sales. It should actually be measured by the number and the quality of conversations around that particular brand, or around that particular messaging that they were trying to put forth.

Quality and amount of conversations is a much better RoI metric for content marketing and there are also some more obvious metrics like mentions, comments, etc.

While measurement metrics are the best-derived basis of the objective - what do you think are the best parameters to determine the results and RoI achieved from content marketing?

There are different ways in which brands measure RoI and there are not any standard metrics. In our experiences, we've actually found that a very effective tool to measure RoI is usually via Brand Lift studies that we do through a third party. We conduct this study to demonstrate the level of conversation around a brand and the sentiment analysis, to gauge how people are perceiving the brand. This has proven to be very effective for us and has in fact enabled our clients to come back since it's a very tangible way to understand how people responded to that particular content. Apart from that, there are other good RoI metrics like social mentions, Google Trends spikes, hashtag usage, comment and sentiment analysis, etc.

Good content is expensive and with the tsunami of content coming in every day, the shelf-life of content has been decreasing. How can brands and creators repurpose content to achieve an optimal amount of views and even RoI?

There is no rule of thumb in terms of increasing a certain content shelf life and the formula that one size fits all doesn't apply here since trends, user behaviour, preferences keep changing. We rely on data analysis to ensure that our content can enjoy a long shelf life. We rely very strongly on data that we derive from the platform itself- basically a very deep kind of analysis on what works at a very granular level. Not just studying how many people watched my video but for how much time did they watch my video and at what point did they lose interest. We also experiment with different faces, different actors, to understand audiences’ tastes. It's very important to use data as a founding board to analyze how to capitalise on content that's doing well and hence, increase the shelf life.

In terms of repurposing as well, by looking at data, we know what videos we need to revisit. It's a category mapping, in terms of knowing what genres are performing well capitalising on those but not losing the appetite for experimentation.

If content is the king, context is the queen, then distribution is the wild card - a lot of good content tends to go to waste because it doesn't reach the right audience, especially amidst the clutter now. Apart from the Pocket Aces community – what kind of a distribution plan do you have in place to ensure that the content reaches the right audience. Any tips for brands, in terms of content distribution?

The distribution plan depends on the kind of content, the platform, and also the audiences. We constantly try to use a lot of social media, influencer communities to ensure the content has a wide reach. Sometimes, of course, there is a miss and there will be a certain topic that doesn't work. But I think the quest to understand why it didn't work help us understand audiences and consumer behaviour better.

However, one thing we really wish brands understood is how to trust the content powerhouses. More education and more understanding of content marketing in general will help brands understand better. Brands many times come to us with the intention that the content will be like a TVC, it'll have all their messaging points. The crux of what they need to understand is that you've come to a content powerhouse, which has built its own distribution through various platforms and understands its audiences deeply. If brands are coming to us or anyone for the distribution, trust that we have best interest at heart at the end of the day. Brands need to understand that it's coming from a place of expertise and not coming from a place of trying to cut down.

Do you think this trust factor would increase this year, or brands still might need more use cases to develop it?

The trust will be a product of putting one toe in the water first, and then kind of jumping in. Brands can start experimenting on smaller platforms first and gauge the response and later come back in a much larger way. But if brands need to be part of the game, they need to adapt to new forms of marketing, it's just a matter of their risk appetite and how much they have to jump.

Keeping in mind the briefs received over the years - what do clients expect from content marketing and branded content?

The expectations really depend on the brand’s own understanding of the content and in which phase of content marketing it is in. While a new brand can expect a heavily branded TVC, few give us free rein. For instance, we did a bunch of videos with Zomato where all the brand integrations were passive and no active mention of the brand. Some brands have an objective of driving conversations around it, some want clicks on websites or even just downloads.

Please share some content consumption trends seen in the last year. 

There is always a debate on which format is better- short format or the long. I think there is an appetite for both since both really do well in each of the formats. Especially with OTT coming out with all formats of content, people are well accustomed and they are not very particular about what format they are watching. Give audiences something gripping which is platform agnostic. Also, people are spending copious amounts of time on content and it is here to stay. With the advent of the internet boom and even the way OTT platforms have slashed their plans to make it accessible to one and all, more people are going to consume more content going forward with heavy investments happening in creating new content at all-new levels to cater to all sorts of audiences.

In line with these trends, please share your plans for content platforms- Dice Media, Gobble, Filter Copy?

We are currently working on 12 plus shows for external platforms and have some exciting brand collaborations for What the Folks season four ( inlcuding Sugar Cosmetics and Toothsi) which is releasing on January 22. In terms of numbers, we saw a healthy 60% YoY growth and are on track for FY 22-23 as well.

Gobble just before the lockdown had experimented with some travel content, which was suspended for some time because of all the travel restrictions, so we are currently doing a lot of food-related content. On Dice, our shows are coming up with their subsequent seasons. We had Instagram-only web series Firsts in partnership with Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk. Also, Clutch,our esports based series with Lenovo and LOCO, has been a huge success for us. A lot of other interesting new properties are coming up for Dice. FilterCopy has new formats as well that we are going to launch this year. Innovation is the name of the game from our content perspective. While we do a good mix of old and new, we definitely are also going into new formats, subjects, and shows.

You've been pretty active in the gaming space as well with Loco for Clutch. How do you see the interest of brands in general increasing for the partnerships in this space, next year?

We obviously strongly believe in the gaming community and the gaming space. There is a lot of scope there and we have worked with a lot of gaming brands in the past including Poco, Lenovo, Intel, in order to tap into these communities. While of course, we are just producing content for the gaming community, after Clutch we realised there is a big market of people watching and liking relatable content around it. Therefore, we will continue to tap this market and create content for it. Our job would be to drive conversations around the reality of this sector and also to educate people on how this is real and upcoming.

While a few marketers still remain apprehensive of tapping this space, how would you convince them to get on to experiment with the gaming branded content space to reap maximum RoI?

Brands need to have some direct connection with the gaming community in some way to tap it. Doesn’t mean one has to create software for games, but relatability matters. For instance, a chocolate brand which can be consumed while playing or positions itself as a solve for hunger / snacktime, or even a clothing or an accessory brand that lends itself to the gaming community well would be good fits

Animation in India is often dismissed as ‘children’s only’ and even criticised for not having enough ‘creativity’. How do you plan to change the narrative with Jambo? What are your major plans on this front and how the brands’ reception has been so far for Jambo?

Animation is still a very niche genre in India and we are currently relooking on building the strategy for Jambo.

Article by Akanksha Nagar