Diageo's Abhishek Sahabadi on how to link ROI of content marketing to sale

In a video interview series with BuzzInContent, the VP Marketing of the alcobev brand admits that not many people are linking content marketing and ROI directly to sale but he is sure people will get there as the ecosystem evolves

Karuna Sharma
New Update

Edited excerpts of the interview with Abhishek Sahabadi, VP - Marketing, Diageo India and actor Imran Khan:


What was the idea behind creating long-form content?

AS: We started off with the ambition of saying that Johnny Walker is looking for India story to tell our purpose. So, we were looking at and evaluating stories which underscore India’s progress. As a part of that exploration, we chanced upon the whole Mission Mars story, which was bang on target to tell the story of progress that Johnny Walker usually talks of.

Have Indian brands evolved enough to embrace the content marketing space shaping up across the world?

AS: Most brands are realising that it cannot be the traditional way of thinking and reaching out to the consumer. One big initiative towards that is creating content that suits the medium on which consumers are present on, be it OTT or social media. We have a range of learnings across all these platforms. So, if you have to create engagements on Facebook, you know that a six-seconder is something that works best there. People have now started thinking differently, saying if this is the theme or idea, how can we tell the story in six seconds, 30 seconds or 2-3 minutes, longer formats or even through gifs and memes. Everyone is now thinking of a communication piece in a different manner.

How do you deal with challenges related to the measurement of ROI in content marketing?

AS: Direct linkage to sales is as difficult as being able to link your brand advertising to sale. There are ways and means like econometric modelling, etc., where you link your advertising weight to the sales and try and build a model around how it gets influenced. Similarly, why do we limit ourselves to just measuring TV weight? Why can’t we add the weight of other mediums be it digital, outdoor or radio together? A lot of people are beginning to do that as well. You can just execute a content plan in a month and see how the brand metrics and everything respond. Then measure the same thing when you have a full campaign. Comparing both the results will tell you the effectiveness of your content plan. So, it’s a test and learn the process that one needs to go through. Right now, I’d admit that not many people are linking content marketing and ROI directly to sale but I’m sure, as the ecosystem evolves, people will get there.

How can brands benefit from keeping their content purpose-driven?

AS: At Diageo, all our brands are led by a purpose. What we truly believe is that’s the only way to create emotional connection and engagement with the consumer. Otherwise, people are not interested in knowing what the brand is saying. They are interested in living their lives and brands can come in and make their lives better or easier.

Has TV evolved to meet a brand’s content needs?

AS: I won’t say that TV is as flexible as digital because digital is absolutely under your control. What is successful or not on digital is a different matter but it allows people to freely distribute content. Therefore, the entry barriers are definitely lesser. You can test and learn on digital. Television is production-intensive because you have to have a certain amount that you need to invest in buying the slot, creating programming, etc. A lot of people have tried with AFPs and branded content but it is not an easy thing to do.

How can a brand stand out in the content space?

AS: It’s all about what type of content we are choosing and how authentic we are about it. The moment we switch out from thinking of what story the brand wants to tell versus what story would interest the consumer. First, understand what are they watching and second is how I can add value to that experience. The brand messaging should be subtly included in it and not like be in your face because that is where maximum switch outs happen. Therefore, it’s all about taking real and inspiring stories that are fun for consumers to watch and then figuring out how you are putting your brand and not the other way round.

How does Mission Mars resonate with the brand?

Imran Khan: This is a seamless integration because it is not a kind of scenario where we are trying to make an ad. Johnny Walker as a brand has a certain image, ethos and brand language which is about overcoming adversities and obstacles. It is always about striving to be better, to reach higher. This is a brand communication that actually tied in very seamlessly with Mars Mission.

With the changing landscape, how is digital media helping brands reach their TG?

Imran Khan: We are moving away from traditional media of distribution and I feel that is dying. Similarly, we also have grown up through the golden era of advertising when we used to see ads on television. Nobody wants to see ads anymore. We no longer take that communication in.

Content marketing Diageo ROI Abhishek Sahabadi