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Kartikeya Bhandari

Measuring content marketing effectiveness is a big challenge for brand marketers, says Kartikeya Bhandari, Senior Director, Marketing, Flipkart.

In an interview with BuzzInContent, he said, "Measurement of content marketing is currently in the development stage. There’s a long way to go.”

“While certain types can have extremely tangible metrics (such as CTRs for blogs), many others (building long-term loyalty through always-on educational video content) still cannot be quantified," he added.

Another challenge that the brands and content creators face is to maintain the thin line between branded content and advertisement. Bhandari said, “The tightrope between ‘branded content’ and what can be construed as an ‘advertisement’ is one that marketers will tread frequently. Finding the balance between brand and audience requirements is a challenge for the brand as well as content creators and publishers.”

Bhandari said brands cannot stay away from content marketing, which would emerge as a substitute for mainstream advertising.

Excerpts:

What is the importance of content marketing in Flipkart’s overall marketing strategy?

In an environment where attention spans are decreasing and people are looking for more intimate and innovative ways to consume media, we believe that content marketing initiatives are a great way to inform, educate, engage and entertain. Content marketing is an integral part of all Flipkart marketing initiatives, from fashion to sales to brand stories.

E-commerce platforms are using content marketing much more than traditional brands. Why is it so?

The digital era has fundamentally redefined the relationship between brands and consumers, and consumers, empowered by the latest digital tools and technology, are looking for a different type of relationship with their brands. This relationship focuses on authentic, meaningful, intimate interactions over the long term, not just big one-way, one-off declarations. It is here where content marketing can play a big role.

What have been Flipkart’s major content initiatives?

We initiated our content charter over two years ago, led by fashion. We have done a variety of projects which serve different functions for the brand.

We innovated with India’s first 360-degree music video with Spatial Sound – staring Arjun Kanungo. People could view a wide collection of Flipkart clothes in a 360 video, crafted to be fun and familiar for India. The video garnered over 10 million views.

A different kind of innovation was Style Hacker with Rohan Joshi – a fashion tutorial series for the Indian man. Almost all fashion content caters to women, especially in India. There was no reason for this as fashion content is just as relevant and highly consumed for men. We filled this gap with Style Hacker, which went on to be one of our most consumed content pieces.

This year, Flipkart Fashion Stories and 'Bitto Ki Shaadi' have been key properties. The former is a sneak peek into the lives and fashion preferences of celebrities such as Karan Tacker, Anita Hassanandani, Krystal D’souza and more. The latter is the World’s Shortest Web series crafted to break barriers to online shopping.

We also work with various publishers and partners such as Glamrs, Filmfare, Pinkvilla and more.

What’s the insight behind the web series ‘Bittoo ki Shaadi’? Why did you not opt to partner with an external content platform for this web series?

‘Bittoo Ki Shaadi’ talks primarily to a non-metro audience, which is relatively new to online fashion shopping. For them, several barriers to online shopping still exist, especially for fashion products. In order to break these barriers, we decided to address this audience in a unique manner. With the help of data, we reached a content format and cast that is familiar both with young and slightly older audiences in this segment. With the combination of these elements and keeping in mind the short attention spans of today’s audience, ‘Bittoo Ki Shaadi’ was born.

We tie up with external content platforms for various reasons, one of which is credibility. However, for ‘Bittoo Ki Shaadi’, the brand messaging was extremely strong and required the backing of the brand itself, instead of a partner.

Identifying the distribution channel and content funnel for content is equally important as scalability of content is paramount. How do you ensure that?

We believe that if we create content that is strongly pegged on a real consumer need or insight than eventually, it will become scalable. The type of content being created, the choice of a partner are also critical factors which decide the platform to be leveraged (Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, etc. From a consumer journey perspective, content can traverse a wide range – be it something which inspires, thereby creating a need to something that can enable better understanding and be educational and be engaging in nature.

How do you decide on the platform (TV, radio, digital) for any content initiative?

The choice of medium is largely a function of the objectives and the target group that we are trying to reach out to. Given that we are pioneers in digital-first marketing, we carry most of our initiatives on digital first.

What works more for the brand: textual content or video content?

We’re in the age of video – on the back of really affordable smartphones, the cheapest data plan anywhere in the world, and a content explosion of what’s available from creators, publishers and OTT players. The video has become the preferred way of engaging online. Textual content is for a particular audience that enjoys reading or particular categories where written content adds a larger amount of value.

What challenges is the industry facing in the content marketing space?

The tightrope between ‘branded content’ and what can be construed as an ‘advertisement’ is one that marketers will tread frequently. Finding the balance between brand and audience requirements is a challenge for the brand as well as content creators/publishers.

Making content marketing measurable is another looming challenge. While certain types can have extremely tangible metrics (eg. CTRs for blogs), many others still cannot be quantified (eg. building long-term loyalty through always-on educational video content). Measurement of content marketing is currently in the development stage. There’s a long way to go.

What is the scope for content marketing in India?

The attention that consumers are demanding brands will be forced to create content that is truly relevant to its audience, gain attention, – and therein shall be the rise of content marketing. To add to that, Indian audiences are avid content consumers and are not put off by the ‘branded’ aspect of it. It’s because of this and a few other reasons that content marketing is the future of advertising in India.

 A lot of brands are picking up social issues for content marketing purposes and integrating the brand in them. Why do we see this trend of picking up social issues as the context of any content? Is it easier to fetch results on social issues?

It’s important for a brand to decide what it stands for and what matters to it. Social causes are a great way to stand for the things that matter. When a brand stands for a social cause (and executes the content about it well), people who believe in that cause tend to feel more favourably about that brand.