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Mike Melli

High quality content can give better organic distribution and scale and brands have realised that they can actively participate and get involved in real discussions and engagements only through content marketing, says Mike Melli, Chief Revenue Officer, MissMalini Entertainment.

In an interview with BuzzInContent, he said that there is huge scope for growth in the Indian content marketing space and believes it has just started to pick up. “All digital marketing is under 20% of the total marketing budget of brands. So, a lot of growth is still going to come. Many brands have realised it is only through content marketing that they can actively participate and get involved in real discussions and have real engagements.”

Melli thinks one cannot start generating sales leads in the beginning of any content journey itself. One would have to invest in brand building first before expecting direct sales from the content. “Once the brand has that reputation in putting out good content, they will have a better conversion rate and cost-economics to it,” said Melli.

What started as a hobby blog MissMalini.com in 2008 by Malini Agarwal, has now become India’s one of the biggest youth content platform. MissMalini Entertainment has worked with over 400 brands in its journey of 10 years now. The content company that was started by three people has now grown to 75-people team. Their flagship website, missmalini.com, reaches over four million organic monthly visitors from over 200 countries, of which more than 65% are women.

Recently, the content platform announced the launch of Miss Malini's first-ever studio web show 'The Girl Tribe'. Inspired by Miss Malini's Facebook community Girl Tribe, the series will showcase women from across the fields and different age groups do meaningful interactions around topics concerned and inspire women.

Excerpts:

What started as a hobby is now a leading website in your space. Do you still call it a blog and what did it take to reach here?

We haven’t called it a blog since 2012-2013. MissMalini Entertainment is a youth empowerment brand. Yes, we are a media company and started as a website, but operate in all areas where the millennials are interested in. Our social media platforms, video operations (television and digital) and audio content are a big part of the business.

While big ticket fashion and Bollywood events latch on to partner with you for more eyeballs, do you see similar responses from brands that at the end of the day are revenue source?

The response is equal from both fashion and Bollywood event partners and as well as the brands, but most of our revenue comes directly from the brands.

What other revenue streams does the platform have?

Our revenue streams are all content related. MissMalini.com, video production house, influencer marketing and five TV shows are our revenue streams. Revenue mix is quite varied across these platforms.

Which has been your recent major content initiative?

We just finished our second season of our original TV show on Vh1 and our brand partner was Google Pixel for that show. This was a successful partnership for all the parties because it was across the platforms. Because we are a digital-first company, when we do a TV show, it is never just TV.

What are your views on the content marketing space shaping up in India?

It has just started to pick up. All digital marketing is still under 20% of the total marketing budget of the brands. So, a lot of growth is still going to come. Within digital marketing, a lot of brands agree that content marketing is one of the most successful formats of digital marketing. Many brands have realised that it is only through content marketing that they can actively participate and get involved in real discussions and have real engagements.

There are a lot of branded content pieces on MissMalini.com. How about focussing more on content marketing? What are brands interested in when they approach you for content services?

We don’t really see that distinction. For us, it is all content marketing. Some content marketing might have direct product integration and some content marketing might be more industry generic. Many brand feel that more their product is featured, they will get better responses. Most publishers and content creators will tell that less is more. If you have a smartly integrated branded content, where there is a good connection and is not forced, that is better than having too much of brand and product. The reason for which content marketing is growing is that content is something that millennials are consuming.

What part of revenue does content marketing and branded content add to the total revenue number?

I would say over 90%.

What kind of traction does MissMalini.com get every month and how do you see it growing?

We look at how many people are engaging on the website. We look at how much of our content is being talked about and being shared on social media. We not just talk about how many views the video has, but how many minutes of that video was watched and the positive-negative sentiment analysis on that video. The measurement is much more complicated than the traffic to the website. We have four million unique visitors on MissMalini.com in a month and that is growing every month.

Have you purposely not kept much display ads on your platform?

Display is more of one-way communication. It’s not the best way for the brands to convey their message, interact and engage with the audience. We don’t want to inundate our viewers with so many ads. We stay from most of that for our audience experience and it’s not important for our revenue model.

One part is content creation and the other part is distribution. How do you scale the content for brands and what are the key things to be kept in mind while the distribution of content?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should have high quality engaging content as it gives you the better organic distribution. We focus on quality, shareability and engagement of content. Then we help our brands partner with all the tricks in the trade like celebrity influencers, blogger network and myriad other things. It all boils down to working with the partners that understand the big picture and understand how all the different platforms and formats work together.

Is there a way to measure how much sale leads have you been able to fetch for the brands?

If you are an e-commerce store, you can easily measure where your traffic is coming from.

What if somebody checks out a certain thing online and buys offline?

That’s the question you could apply to any form of marketing. But the fact of the matter is in terms of exactly knowing who you are reaching through content and understanding how many people saw and engaged with it. It is much easier to measure in digital than the other forms of marketing.

There are also a lot of bots and people clicking and increasing views of any particular content.

That is why one needs to work with the trusted partners. Brands get in trouble when they try to work with the random freelancers and random services they see on the web. That is where all the fraud comes from.

Do you think content marketing is a brand-building exercise or can it also help generate sales?

100% both. One would probably have to invest in brand building first before one might see direct sales from the content. Once the brand has that reputation in putting out good content, then they will have a better conversion rate and cost-economics to it.

How different is your offering from the rest content platforms in your segment?

We have brought the entire ecosystem under one roof because we have been in the business longer than anyone. MissMalini was the first platform to be offering content marketing. We have our own studio and video production house, our own influencer marketing practice, our own digital marketing and distribution practice and ATL agency. MissMalini can take care of brands’ content, influencer marketing, events, podcasts and video needs. Our longevity brings expertise in this space.

Who are your major competitors?

I don’t see anybody as MissMalini competitor. We are ready to work with any platform or publisher. We love working with other content creators. We will always choose collaboration over competition anyday.