Print medium doesn't allow brands to experiment with content personalisation, says Sapna Arora of OLX

In an interview with BuzzInContent.com, the newly appointed Chief Marketing Officer at OLX talks about the brand's objectives it wants to fulfil with content marketing, the growth of content marketing on digital and OTT platforms, lack of content personalisation on the print medium

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Akansha Srivastava
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Sapna Arora

The marketing fraternity is grappling with the lack of clear metrics and methodology to measure return on investment in the content marketing space. If a brand has its mind clear in terms of objectives it wants to achieve through content, then the journey becomes easy. One should also try that the objective it has set for the brand to be unique to it only.

Sapna Arora, Chief Marketing Officer, OLX, believes that more than measurability, brand marketers should be definitive about the objectives they want to fulfil through content. She said, “I believe the problem is not towards measurability but towards goal alignment. Brand custodians need to have better clarity on the goals that they are trying to achieve through content marketing. She said the brand objectives could be unique to every organisation and should not be a one size fits all.”

She also told BuzzInContent.com that while print as a medium has seen a surge in readership over the last one year, it does not allow brands to experiment with content personalisation. Given that, they will continue experimenting with the medium as and when required.

The online reseller believes that content marketing is the most effective strategy for a successful brand positioning to win the hearts of millennials. The brand’s main objective of content marketing is to make itself a part of the daily lives of the consumers and millennials without appearing too jarring or intrusive. OLX is gradually building its focus to leverage content marketing to communicate trust and safety around digital literacy and empower more people to transact on OLX.

OLX’s recent brand campaign ‘Set hai’ is sprinkled with pop culture and colloquial references. It speaks directly to the young, tech-savvy, dynamic millennials, who are always on the lookout for a better deal.

The brand recently did content partnerships with TVF, Voot and Zee to promote the campaign. Arora finds a huge scope of growth of content marketing in the digital space and OTT platforms.

Excerpts:

For an online reseller such as OLX, what all objectives can be achieved from content marketing?

As a brand that connects with a very wide range of target audiences and with the new visual identity of OLX to attract millennials, content marketing has become the most suited and the most effective strategy for a successful brand positioning. As the brand aspires to tap in more internet population of India in its next leg of growth, we are determined to capitalise the strategies that we envisage for our successful growth, penetration and brand awareness.

In an era where attention spans are dipping and consumers have a plethora of content choices to choose from, it’s important for us to get our content marketing strategy right. Our core objective of content marketing is to weave our brand across the daily lives of our target audience, millennials, without appearing too jarring or intrusive.

One of our other objectives has also been to remove any stigma associated with the availability and discovery of pre-owned goods. Content marketing enables us to educate users around the potential of pre-owned goods lying around in Indian homes, which as per our last estimate in 2016 was a staggering Rs 78,000 crore. This allows us to expand further into the market of pre-owned goods by increasing the life cycle of these goods and thereby help reduce carbon footprint we are generating. Content marketing also holds the key to building out the trust and safety initiatives at OLX designed to assist people in keeping themselves safe when they are using internet platforms. On this front, we have launched multiple consumer education initiatives both on and off the platform, which enables people to transact safely on OLX.

Ask any marketer, most of them play safe and rarely accept that sales or lead generation are among their objectives. Wouldn’t this approach keep content marketing always low profile in the marketing presentations?

While lead generation is transactional and is geared more towards achieving certain numbers or targets, content marketing could be deployed in various scenarios, including building out a new category, brand building and staying in touch with the customers. Content marketing could also be used across various media platforms, all of which may not necessarily be leading to sales or lead generation. Hence, as marketers, we should be cognizant of using only those platforms that ultimately deliver on our desired marketing objectives.

Is it measurability of sales lead or marketing-generated opportunities a hindrance or lack of one great content idea?

I believe the problem is not towards measurability but towards goal alignment. Brand custodians need to have better clarity on the goals that they are trying to achieve through content marketing. Once the objectives are set and aligned, there shouldn't be a problem in getting the act together. The objectives could be unique to every organisation and should not be a one size fits all. Effective channelisation of CM objectives will enable better outreach and influence.

How much focus would you have on content marketing versus other forms of marketing in the coming years (both online and offline)?

Content marketing is emerging as the leading form of marketing to engage with end-users versus other channels of marketing. Decreasing attention spans, tendency to skip ads and a general aversion to mass advertising led brands to explore marketing avenues that allow them to speak to their target audience in a more authentic manner. In the coming years, content marketing will grow to occupy a significant focus on our marketing strategy.

On the back of our new rebranding, we leverage content marketing to communicate the same. Very recently, we partnered with leading digital platforms such as Zee, Voot and TVF to co-create content marketing campaigns. Our content marketing objectives are largely different from other internet brands and hence we are gradually building out our focus to leverage content marketing to communicate trust and safety around digital literacy and empower more people to transact on OLX.

What mediums/channels according to you are best suited for the content marketing initiatives of OLX?

Digital and OTT platforms are best suited for content marketing initiatives at OLX. Our recent partnership with OTT and digital platforms such as Zee, Voot and TVF is a testament to the same. Rise of individual content creators and platforms has shifted the attention span towards digital platforms, where most millennials consume content today. Our new brand identity is optimistic, ambitious, lively, provocative and the same can be seen in our content marketing campaigns. We recently partnered with Voot’s talk show ‘Feet up with the Stars Season 2’ to create a section called ‘Set Hai Moments’. During this segment, Bollywood stars were questioned around the moment when they felt they have truly arrived in the movie industry. The segment was well-appreciated with the audience and the show overall led to a 10% increase in top-of-mind recall for the brand.

E-commerce giants like Amazon have been using print for their content initiatives to expand their base and bring more users to their platforms. Can we see OLX using print for its content initiatives?

We believe content marketing should be medium-agnostic. Irrespective of the platform, the messaging should be consistent and consumers should be able to grasp the intended messaging without any hassle. The consistency in content marketing will enable advertisers and brands to bring in more users to their platforms.

While print as a medium has seen a surge in readership over the last one year, the medium doesn’t allow brands to experiment with content personalisation. Despite the rise of digital, print remains one of the most popular mediums across India, especially in tier II and III cities as per the recent IRS survey, which has seen a rise in the growth of readership for print publications. We will experiment with using print for our content marketing initiatives as and when we feel the need to do so.

Last month, the sale of a Mercedez Benz car on OLX which belonged to Amitabh Bachchan in the past made it to the headlines across media. It may not be any sort of content gimmick by the brand but how much does this kind of content help?

In an age where a massive amount of content is generated every second, virality holds the key towards gaining the right amount of mind share with our end users. On OLX, we get about 20,000+ cars listed every day across India, generating over six billion monthly page views from over 50 million monthly active users. This ensures that the content on OLX always remains fresh and unduplicated. Such initiatives go a long way in addressing the stigma in consumer’s perception around pre-owned goods. Consumers believe that pre-owned goods would be of inferior quality but such content initiatives help remove the misconception and bring more attention to the varied listings we have at OLX.

You have worked mostly on FMCG brands that do have a lot to talk about their physical products in their content initiatives. How challenging is content marketing for an online marketplace such as OLX when compared with those FMCG brands?

At the end of the day, the physicality of the product is inconsequential. The value of a product in a user’s life depends on the role that the product plays today. Lines are blurring between physical and digital given the role digital products play in our lives. Hence digital products today play a larger role given the importance they command in a user’s life. As OLX is a digital-first brand that empowers people to make smart choices, our content marketing initiatives revolve around empowering our users with the right tools and information that enhances their digital buying/selling experience. This could be in the form of our content marketing initiatives designed to promote trust and safety on digital platforms, consumer education around pre-owned goods and more.

OLX Sapna Arora