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Creating content that is share-worthy and which doesn’t look like an ad is Aashish Chopra’s mantra for building successful brands. Chopra, ixigo’s Content Marketing Head, believes video is the next big thing for content and loves experimenting with the medium.

Chopra adds, “The content piece should not be an ad. The barrier to entry in this game is super low. Everybody has an HD camera in their phones and anybody can create content and that creates a lot of clutter. Content will stand out only when it is not in the form of an ad, creates conversation and comes to the point really fast.”

On the occasion of Republic Day, ixigo released a video film ‘Train Mein Hai Ghar Wali Baat’, encapsulating the warmth of Indians with moments that everyone would have experienced in the trains. The voiceover of the video was done by Bollywood actor Sanjay Mishra, a huge fan of train journeys himself. The video went hugely viral and was shared by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The video was also organically picked by The Logical Indians.

The video: 

An award-winning viral video marketer, Chopra joined ixigo in 2014, where he heads content marketing; believing in the power of content and considering it king. Prior to working for ixigo, Aashish worked with different web marketing companies like Magnon International and CanEdge Web Incorporation, where he was responsible for all aspects of an internet startup, from sales and marketing, project management, client relationships and administration. Apart from this, he ran social campaigns, trained teams and started designing websites from a very early age. Adding to his extensive achievements, Aashish won the DMAi Content Marketer Of The Year Award for ixigo, in 2016.

Chopra also runs his independent blog http://www.aashishchopra.com/

In an interaction with BuzzInContent.com, Chopra shares his point of view on the role and scope of content marketing and ixigo’s content marketing strategy.

Excerpts:

How does ixigo stand out in the clutter on the basis of content? Please spell out a few major content marketing initiatives undertaken by the brand?

We focus on creating kickass content. We are obsessed with the tiny details and not the generality of the content. Three years that is driving us into content marketing is that either it is really awesome and we do it or we don’t do it at all. We are heavy on experiments and one thing which is big and going to be further big is video. We have experimented a lot with videos and have videos that have crossed 16 million videos. Last year in December, we did an experiment with the live videos and created a live quiz, in which questions, answers were live and the winners were also announced live. We had a completely organic engagement with that experiment. Last year, we also did a content initiative where we also created videos on ‘How to speak various languages in a minute?’ Those videos got 20 million views last year, which was our biggest success.

Do you also associate with various content creators and agencies for the generation of content?

We don’t connect with the agencies as they don’t get the game. In fact, the big challenge I see in the whole industry is that we always think of content on the lines of making an ad. We create the content as ads and ads don’t work. Because at the end, all the work that we have done is riding on viral success and to me comes by creating content that is share-worthy and that has to be 100% nonsense-free. The ad blockers are on the rise.

Do you mean to say that the agencies cannot create good content?

The agencies need to really evolve faster. Some are evolving fast now. They have the baggage of creating ads and are good at creating campaigns, but the thing is that consumers are tired of the ads. When we create an ad, we think how many eyeballs we can get, but when we get the share on the piece of content then that’s the real thing as people share from their heart. We should create content that people relate to.

What is your strategy behind picking up share-worthy content?

We have different buckets of how to pick share-worthy content. For example, inspirational content, relatable content, useful content, topical content, change-the-world kind of a content. Every bucket is driven by how we pick up a useful video. Then we brainstorm massively on the pain parts and then finalise the content that we bring out.

Do travel portals also monetise by becoming content generators/publishers for content marketing initiatives undertaken by various clients?

Of course, we can but that’s not the game we are in. However, we did one experiment with monetisation sometime back with Ibis Hotel and 90% of their videos went viral.

The travel portal category is a very noisy space and to steal the audience mindshare is very difficult. Please elaborate on the challenges in doing content marketing in the category.

It’s noisy everywhere. The biggest challenge we have is that there is no attention span. People have so many applications on their phones, which are buzzing with notifications. Whenever we release a video, we have three to six seconds to make an impact and in those seconds if we don’t hold their hands and take them on a journey and engage, then they will go on to something else. The content piece should not be an ad. The barrier to entry in this game is super low. Everybody has an HD camera in their phones and anybody can create content and that creates a lot of clutter. Content will stand out only when it is not in the form of an ad, creates conversation and comes to the point really fast.

Do you think that marketers have completely understood the power of content marketing in India? Where does content marketing space stand in India?

Marketers in India are doing a lot of experiments. Many years back, when social media became big, people in the industry were sceptical about social media. And a point came when it didn’t matter if you did it or not because you had to deal with it as consumers started communicating with the brands and there was no option left then. That is what is happening right now. Millions of people are migrating to the tiny phones and spending a lot of time on them each day and going away from the traditional media.

But I see a lot of big brands spending hugely on advertising on the traditional media?

Because that is the game they get and they don’t understand the game of content marketing. Many people are still scared of a two-way communication on social media. Why do you think small teams and startups of millions and billions of valuation have created big buzz today? Because they are very agile and fast.

What would you suggest brands to keep in mind while taking content marketing route?

Don’t make an ad. I see a lot of people create content with this filter of advertising. You can call it branded content or content marketing. If the content you create has the DNA of your brand, that to me is content marketing. If we are into travel then we should create content around travel and not plug ourselves into something very unrelated to crime and drama videos.

Consumers today are very smart and they understand what is paid content. So, what should marketers keep in mind so that the content they are producing look real and not trying to sell the brand indirectly?

I think the audience can only distinguish between two things: if it’s nonsense or not nonsense, authentic or not authentic. Make a share-worthy video. It doesn’t matter if it’s paid or unpaid. For the train video, we used multi-channels. Some were paid and some were unpaid. The amount of traction we got was huge. It’s not that when you spend money, you won’t get results. The idea is in which direction you spend money.

Most of the content marketing initiatives are seen on the digital platforms. Why don’t we see content marketing encroaching TV, radio and newspaper much, which could help reach offline consumers and bring them online?

TV, radio and newspapers are dying mediums. Instead of experimenting content on TV, I might go and experiment formats that are challenging TV. For example, Amazon Prime because that’s where the growth is. People are coming offline to online because of free data. Jio’s launch was a big deal in India. The digital transformation happened five years ago.

We have noticed brands trying to become multi-channel publishers. Is there any merit in doing so?

Of course, there is merit in multi-channel. We need to have communities on those channels. The more experiment we do with multi-channels, we gain more knowledge about right and wrong. Till now we have focused on Facebook. Now we will shift to YouTube as well.

Why is that brands end up doing branded content despite having the intent to do content marketing? Is it the RoI in mind behind this deterrence?

I don’t think it’s RoI because we have got huge RoI through our content marketing videos only. We made a video about restaurants. 70% footfalls increased. We made a video of beaches, we got around 20,000 apps installed. The whole idea of branded content and content marketing stems from the idea of experimentation. Even having the thought of doing content marketing, when brands end up doing branded content depicts more to the lazy approach of the brand.