Submitted by admin on Mon, 10/09/2017 - 13:23

Sameer Pitalwalla, CEO and Co-Founder, Culture Machine shares how digital video is being unbundled into ad-supported and subscription-supported content. He also writes about how the on-going fission, is giving rise to opportunities for a new kind of marketing, that marries story-telling and computing


CEO & Co-Founder, Culture Machine

A Swiss newspaper, Das Magazin, broke the story that has had every marketer, the kind that believes if it’s not on his newsfeed then it isn’t really viral, on how Donald Trump’s administration used Cambride Analytica, to win the US presidential elections.

Almost overnight, a thrilling lexicon of ‘dark posts’, ‘micro-targeting’, ‘custom audiences’ and other scintillating descriptions of the Facebook Marketing API, had clients hooked. Surely, this unholy communion of programmatic buying and programmatic creative, could manipulate millennials like Alexander Nix magnetized those rubber ducks nodding away in the rust belt. It could yield their quarterly charts that spectacular bump that’s upwards and to the right. Alas, in a world where buying, creative, planning and media functions have been devised for traditional, speaking to the same folks to deliver for digital is like taking rowing lessons to survive in a desert.


While the US elections will perhaps be the first case-study in a truly effective and mass (like traditional media mass) campaign, it will most definitely not be the last. In many ways, as a country we are pioneering it. In the only way Indians can, with great hopes and limited budgets. Unsuspecting feed users in India too were subjected to the wrath of fake news during our own elections in 2014, except, at that time, it wasn’t really called fake news.

There are 150 million personalized Facebooks, 200 million WhatsApps, 110 million Youtubes, and a growing number of personalized UC Browser, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HotStar, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and insert new video platforms here. Your generally programmed linear one-size-to-fit-all TV feed is on a slow but sure descent. Cord-cutting amongst US households has only accelerated every year, hitting a peak in 2014 and steadily de-growing with its biggest loss coming in the first quarter of this year. Video is going to steadily become an Internet Protocol only distribution format. Digital cinema’s already done that, TV’s change is nigh.

With that, the hegemony of Television as we know it, will continue to face downward pressure as advertising and subscription revenues get de-coupled. We are many years away, but it is inevitable. Millennials are already leaving traditional TV channels that positioned themselves as ‘Youth’ and replacing them with media brands on digital. Spends to reach them in that category have already moved online.

Content, uninhibited by distribution, driven by communities, and built around a new generation of endemic talent, is giving them an aisle instead of a shelf of content. Youth itself is being segmented into communities oriented around psychographics, demographics, geography and interests. What was once one MTV, is being virtualized, verticalized and fragmented. Managing scale as a modern-day media network, creative agency or advertiser, without a new technology framework that adapts to the ever-changing landscape and is inherently built as video, makes the difference between being heard or being lost in the flood of the feeds.

If the papercuts to niche television begin with advertising, they will accelerate with Subscription Video on Demand. Amazon Prime doesn’t even sell video, it’s Same Day Delivery. Oh! By the way here is a vast catalogue with $200 million of fresh new local programming. NetFlix, HotStar, Viu and others are unencumbered by S&P guidelines, and can actually give paying users a truly personalized premium experience of content. Why would you pay Rs 350 ARPU to cable and satellite, when your friendly Jio connection with 1GB per day can give you a personalized EPG with millions of dollars’ worth of content, curated and available across all devices?

India has the largest millennial population in the world. As of 2016, there were 407 million millennials in India, expected to grow to 504 million by 2020. These comprise 46.4% of India's working age population with a total spending power of $180 billion in 2016, swelling to $330 billion by 2020.

Surveys show that 57% of India's working millennials are already the chief wage earners, accounting for 70% of overall household income and they will account for 45% of total working population in the next decade.

These yolo-swearing yaas queens are the economic force that spends about 17 hours on the Internet in a week - 35% of that time is spent on emails/social media, 30% on online entertainment and 23% searching for information.

These organic-crushed-pepper-crusted-grilled-salmon-with-olive-drizzle-on-a –bed-of-pan-fried-quinoa-loving generation will comprise 61% of the nation's Internet population and 78% of online shoppers by 2020.

They are to a megabit born, scions of the screen, and their water coolers are these online communities curated and created around content. They mostly block ads and sometimes skip them, and consume world class content products, only if the genial algorithm is kind enough to bubble it on their feed. Attention is the only prize worth winning, and as hard as it sounds, dear sir, your 30-second one-size-fits-all TVC will need to explode itself into a thousand stories, delivered at scale, like those dastardly dark posts. They will need to speak to communities, and be so woven into the fabric of the story, you can’t tell where the seam lies between content and ad. 

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