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Flow of content contingent on where users are present, concur experts

The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant nation-wide lockdown has seen increased consumption of content as people remained confined at home. On June 6, 2020, Adgully organised a series of webinars on digital marketing as part of its annual DIGIXX Summit | Awards. The conversations captured the course that the digital ecosystem of India was heading towards.

The discussion on ‘Will investments accelerate in content marketing in the new normal’ was led by moderator Rajan Srinivasan, Founder & CEO, Scatter, who was joined by speakers Archana Sinha, Senior Director - Marketing, Salesforce; Avinash Shroff, Managing Director, Transamerica; Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker India; Kaushik Chakraborty, VP – Digital, Tata Capital; and Prashant Puri, CEO & Co-Founder, AdLift.

‘New Normal’ of marketing here to stay?

Srinivasan began the discussion by observing that “every slowdown sees the death of some businesses and industries conversely it also accelerates certain business categories. When you look back, the 2008 Economic Crisis was a tipping point for digital marketing. Will Covid-19 play out in a similar scenario?”

Prashant Puri: I believe this scenario is demonetisation to the power of ten for digital marketing. It has accelerated the growth of digital ecosystem unlike any other event.

Digital marketing spends will be rising significantly. As you know, content marketing flows where the users are present. In the last 30-60 days mobile usage has shot up 70-75%. Data usage has gone up by 110%. Previous projections said that it would have taken at least two years for us to reach these levels, but now it has happened in two months.

Karthik Nagarajan: I would define ‘new normal’ as something that is not incremental in change. If you ask me, ‘is there substantive evidence that we’re entering a new age of marketing’ my answer would be no. The fundamental principles of marketing still hold true. Timing and budgets are an issue which has led to a new found love of content marketing. As the adage goes ‘necessity is the mother of innovation’.

Kaushik Chakraborty: Certain mediums will become more effective while others become less effective. Direct mail marketing is going to go out of fashion and OOH media will give lesser return on investment. Viewing has shifted from TV to digital media. So, platforms like YouTube, short form social media content, OTT will be used more for advertising. Cost and efficacy of digital platforms will go up and advertising will move to a digital programmatic model. Research on Google, before making purchasing decisions, will increase and therefore search engine marketing will do better than before. The overall media mix will change to some extent.

Potential of Content Marketing

Here, Rajan Srinivasan mentioned, “Salesforce has set a benchmark in content marketing globally and has set a robust in-house content marketing team. In May, the Salesforce team created a Playbook titled ‘Covid-19 Response Framework’ which alluded to the new normal.”

Archana Sinha: To help businesses navigate through changes currently, Salesforce has created a content series called ‘Leading through Change’. For more than 20 years, Salesforce has been incorporating what our customers have been saying into content. ‘Leading through Change’ is a content and virtual event series which provides thought leadership, resources and tips to educate the community and build a forum for conversation. We launched a second video-based content series called ‘Be Well Together’, initially only meant for employees, and then opened up to customers, stakeholders and prospects considering the demand. It is a well being focused series which works around aligning the mind and body by leading well being experts and has been running for almost three months.

We’ve also created a ‘COVID-19 Response Playbook’, which is essentially a versatile framework created by Salesforce for companies to stabilise their business, reopen the workspace, and accelerate change to grow in the new normal. This Playbook has been created with global partners who have a real understanding of customers and partners. A phase approach is outlined in the chapters of the playbook which gives structure and guidance to organisations to get back to work. It helps companies understand ‘how to make no-regrets decisions’ during these uncertain times. It helps them map their response journeys and guide their day to day decision making with the speed and scale that is required in the current environment.

Rajan Srinivasan to Avinash Shroff, “Transamerica was one of the first content marketers and set a benchmark for non-branded content. Since most readers have stayed at home, publishers have moved content up the value chain by offering more premium and paid services. Does the website that you run and manage called ‘Tomorrowmakers.com’ try to leverage this extended reliance on the Net?”

Avinash Shroff: Our website focuses on the subject of individual personal finance – the subject of money. During this lockdown period, not only digital content consumers, but even digital content producers increased manifold. You have predominantly offline brands creating content to keep the top of mind share of the consumer. With lots of content being produced, it led to brands like us to rethink the value proposition, declutter the content out there and find the right mix of customised content.

We broke our audience based on their consumption pattern on ‘Tommorowmakers.com’ and reclassified them into three categories – diligent reader, self-centred reader, and premium reader. The premium reader is an open-minded reader with nil time for unproductive banter. He/ she needs to cut through advertising clutter and unverified information and truly get down to brass tacks. To focus on this consumer, we created an offering, called Tomorrow Makers Premium that will be catering to this consumer. This section will add value qualitatively to the lives of customers and we intend to do so through deep well researched articles on the subject of personal finance. We are looking for synergies with various other brands who are looking to create such qualitative value. We plan to roll it out by Q4 of December 2020.

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