Post Thumb
(L) Vyom Charaya and Sameer Saxena (R)

The Viral Fever (TVF), one of India’s leading content creators, believes that the next level of evolution will happen when brands decide to keep the content creators as part of their annual marketing budgets.

Vyom Charaya, Director, Brand Solutions, TVF, said, “A majority of advertising and branding budgets are still allocated to television. With the content ecosystem growing, the idea is to become the first preferred channel of marketing for the brands. The next stage of evolution for the ecosystem is that some of the large content creators start becoming a part of the annual marketing plans of brands.”

The content platform’s biggest web series of the year ‘Yeh Meri Family’ is scheduled to release on July 12, 2018. The storyline of the series is set in the 90s with the aim of giving a nostalgic feel to viewers.

Charaya thinks that with the number of content creators increasing in the market, the ecosystem is also growing. He said, “All these players coming into this space is helping us build the ecosystem. With the number of players increasing, the size of the content pie is also going to get larger.”

Sameer Saxena, Chief Content Officer and Head of TVF Originals, is happy to see the brands evolving. He said, “They understand the creative aspect of the content and they know you have to be very ingrained in the content, otherwise it looks a little jarring to the audience.”

Saxena thinks that the most important aspect of content creation is that one should not sit and think of creating a masterpiece, but just get going.

Excerpts from an interview:

What is the secret sauce behind the viral quotient of TVF’s content?

Saxena: There is no secret recipe to create viral content. We just go out and make sketches that we really like to make, it is as simple as that. Having said that, now since we have been here for so many years, we also have an understanding as to how and what the audience tends to like more. You can never predict what might work but you get an idea that this is a certain type of content that the audience may not like.

TVF was one the few early players in the market when the video content space was shaping up in India. So, it has got a major chunk of the consumers’ mind space. Now other players have entered the video content space. How do you intend to stay differentiated in terms of content from the clutter?

Charaya: Our stories are very differentiated. Two words to which we play is honest and relatable storytelling. The way we are going to plan our content is that there are different audience clusters and catering to each of these, we will have some interesting, relatable and honest stories coming out. Some audience would relate to one story and some with the other.

Others would also say they are doing honest work. How would you differentiate then? Is it because you entered the market early?

Charaya: There is a definite advantage from entering the market early but the other content creators are also doing good work. There are two elements that we focus on when we are making a new show. One is impactful storytelling and the second is scale. So, impactful storytelling at scale is the mantra that we follow. We leverage all kinds of platforms to reach our audience to achieve scale. We have a huge in-house writing team. We would be very happy if we move to a space where writing gets the importance it should.

A lot of marketers have the urge to keep the brand first and then content. How is it like to persuade marketers to keep content first?

Charaya: It’s a fair discussion that happens in every brand partnership. The intent of the brand is not to go against the content piece. Their focus should be on whether the brand's objectives are being met or not. One question that we get a lot of times is that if my brand doesn’t come in the first 15 seconds then would the people even watch it? This happens as they are coming from a 30-second ad mindset. We tell them about the kind of completion rate we have even on 30-40 minute videos. They get surprised that 70% of the audience is engaged with the long format content. That’s when the brands understand if in a plot point the brand is organically placed, the message comes out well and the impact it will have is manifold than if we try to do it in the first 10-15 seconds.

A lot of OTT platforms from big business houses are offering content to brands. What’s your strategy to deal with the competition of this kind?

Charaya: A majority of advertising and branding budgets are still allocated to television. With the ecosystem growing, the idea is to become the first preferred channel of marketing for brands. All these players coming into this space is helping us to build the ecosystem. As the number of players increase, the size of the content pie will also get larger.

How evolved do you see brands now in terms of adapting video content space to reach out to the consumers than the past?

Saxena: The brands have evolved a lot because initially, even the creators were not too sure of the medium. Now, they understand the creative aspect of the content and they know you have to be very ingrained in the content otherwise it looks a little jarring to the audience. They now believe in integration and collaboration, which is very organic to the content that we create for them.

Charaya: I think the next stage of evolution for the ecosystem is that some of the large content creators start becoming a part of the annual marketing plans of brands. A lot of brands are trying to understand what the young audiences want.

What works more for the brands: content that is not branded or a complete branded piece of content? How willing are brands to put content above the brand in any partnership?

Charaya: It depends a lot on what the story is, how we have been able to package and position it and whether we have been able to make it relatable for the viewer or not. If we have done that, audiences are smart enough to understand that content creators are making some of this content with the brand partners, so there will be a communication of the brand within the story.

Two tips for content platforms and creators?

Saxena: One very important thing is to keep making the content rather than just sitting and thinking about making something and eventually not making it. Getting your content out to the audience is most important. Good/bad that is something that everyone will learn over a period of time. One should not wait for their masterpiece because that not how it works, so you should keeping making content.

Do you think that advertising agencies can create as good content as independent content creators?

Saxena: Creating content is a very different kind of art that needs sensibility and honesty to the content that you are creating. I won’t say that they can’t create content. Whoever is creating content needs to keep in mind what he/she is trying to create. If you’re honest with it, you can create content even if it’s a straightforward ad.

TVF has in the past partnered with external content creators like Pocket Aces and would be partnering with more going ahead. Being a content creator yourself, what is the need to partner with external content creator and what is the strategy here?

Charaya: It’s a common practice to partner other content creators. A few story ideas of other content platforms at times resonate with us and our audiences. We will keep on doing this practice. At the end of the day, we want to stand for good stories and a lot of good stories are done by other content creators.

TVF is known to create content online. What about creating content for TV? Are you looking into that space? Is the Indian television space ready to intake the kind of content TVF has to offer?

Charaya: TV is not a no-go zone. It requires a different kind of skill of programming for 24 hours. We are not looking at it actively.

TVF has its production house, online streaming app, YouTube channel and much more. What more can we expect?

Charaya: There are a few things under wraps. You can expect a lot of exciting content in the next six months on the app. We will focus more on the app and mobile-friendly content as most of the content consumption is happening on it.

Right now the most interesting thing coming out from the house of TVF is ‘Yeh Meri Family’. This will be out on TVF Play on July 12. Going forward, some of our most premium offerings will premiere on TVF Play.

Please tell something about your upcoming web series ‘Yeh Meri Family’ for AMFI.

Charaya: They have done a web series with us in the past. We have helped them measure the impact of it together in the form of a case study. We have seen movements in terms of affinity towards the brand and purchase intent for mutual funds. The story is very relatable with a very feel-good 90s’ setup. It has touched our hearts as a story.

Saxena: The brand is well-integrated and seamless. The messaging is the part of the story. Though set in the 90s, the story seems relevant today.