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BrandVid - Can a brand become a media company?

BrandVid - Can a brand become a media company?

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MUMBAI: Traditional media companies today have a very diverse story and narrative no matter what the subject. A consistent story is shared across paid, earned and owned media. However, media companies are more than that today. They create programming and/or distribute it. They also share the content via various media channels.

But what we’ve been increasingly seeing is that brands have now started to become media companies by creating and distributing their in-house content. 

It is challenging for a traditional agency to sustain and survive in a competing environment like this. But is there a way where brands, agencies and publishers can co-exist and collaborate? Well, that was precisely the topic of discussion at BrandVid 2018, powered by Colors. The session saw industry leaders discuss on whether a brand can after all become a media company. And if yes, how can they monetise their assets. 

Clearly disagreeing with the proposition, Firstpost business head of revenue & strategy Anurag Iyer believes that the objective of becoming a media company and becoming a brand are completely different. He said, “Redbull as a business looks at its studio business as a separate entity and has great traction back to its website, but does its film on adventure and sports result in more Redbulls being sold? I don’t think so! But does it have a great brand rub off with their audiences? Absolutely!”

On the other hand, Online Fashion portal Myntra is a brand as well as an e-commerce company that is also a media company to some extend as it creates in-house content. But does that mean it will become a full-fledged media company in the time to come? Probably! Myntra VP marketing Achint Setia is of the opinion that brands need to first figure out the role of content and the business objective. For a brand, its business objective is to drive revenue and sales and that’s where content plays a critical role. “Brands have a role to play in consumer’s mind and they should stick to that role. However, that role can get enhanced and more meaningful with the right use of content.”

But while brands are struggling to find their sweet spot in the cluttered media ecosystem, there hasn’t been a better time for agencies as they get to have the cake and eat it too. Isobar Group MD South Asia Shamsuddin Jasani wants partake of that cake. Though it is a difficult proposition, big global brands want to monetise their content. Global FMCG giants Mondelez and Pepsi want 20-30 per cent of their spends to be recovered via video content and Isobar doesn’t want to miss out on that opportunity. 

A lot of brands mistake content’s role in their business lifecycle. It is not about monetising content for the sake of it or about using content as an ROI drive. It is more about using content to have a deeper relationship with your community. 

Shamsuddin said, "Big advertisers feel there is some monetisation that needs to happen and they are all grappling with how to create those monetisation opportunities. As an agency, we are working with brands to create those IPs. As brands, they will do it and as agencies we will have to do it because we don’t have a choice or they will push us to do it.”

Although it’s a vicious and profitable cycle, but when does a brand pause, take a step back and think whether they are overstepping their business objective and should rather focus on sales and revenue? That’s exactly what Marico head of media and digital marketing Ankit Desai thinks. He believes it will be a few hits and a lot of misses for brands if they go the media company route. “While media companies can deal with many misses and start over again, it’s a different ball game for brands as it is linked back to business objective where you don’t have the option of repetitive failure since your marketing money will be wasted and that’s really the challenge.”

Getting customer attention is a task for most marketers today. The millennial consumer will not stick to your content no matter how well made it is if it isn’t engaging and informative enough. It will take a lot of time for brands to understand the young customer of today. Agreeing that brands will become media companies in the future, Fastrack head of marketing Ayushman Chiranewala said that you cannot time when it will actually happen. He however thinks that it will come from a different business need which will be to be on the top of customer mind because getting the customer attention will only keep getting difficult in the future.

Brands will become media companies in the times to come and there is no denying that but the timeline is likely to vary. For Myntra, it may happen in less than three years from now whereas Fastrack believes it will take five to 10 years. Interestingly, today content creators are also becoming brands in themselves. They create an IP and later sell products around the IP, eventually creating a brand. 

All in all, maybe the world in the future will not be about everyone trying to do everything but about a lot of collaborations and partnerships. But every brand and creator should keep their minds open and think about consumer intent first.

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