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Karthik Nagarajan

The measurement of content marketing has become the talk of the town these days and a lot of tools are being developed towards achieving this aim. In fact, discussions are on to find a common ground to measure content. Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker, said, “We believe that ROI on content should not be a ‘one size fits all’, but heavily customised for the client and its purpose.”

Wavemaker is working with the start-up ecosystem for developing tools to measure the effectiveness of content marketing by brands. “For example, five years back, we created a head start for ourselves in social listening and we are recreating that today with our investments in technologies like Neuroscience,” said Nagarajan.

As content marketing has evolved dynamically in the last five years, content creation as a function has also been democratised. This has led to an increase in demand for the agencies’ services for brands to help them navigate the complex maze of creators and platforms, said Nagarajan.

Wavemaker has successfully helped brands in strategising content campaigns such as ‘Jaago Re’ by Tata Tea, Royal Stag Barrel Select’s Large Short films, Vodafone’s ‘Sakhi’ and Mercedes ‘Rushes’ project among many others.

According to Nagarajan, content in regional languages is bound to grow dramatically, India is due for rural marketing 2.0, video will grow manifold and the rise of OTT platforms will exponentially increase the ability of a brand to create IPs.

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In the evolving content ecosystem, brands are either creating content on their own or they approach content creators/platforms directly. Where is the role of an agency like you? Isn’t it limited to providing content solutions to your existing clients?

You are absolutely right that the content ecosystem has evolved. In fact, it has evolved more in the last five years than it probably did in the decade before. Largely, content creation as a function has been democratised. And it is especially now more than ever that clients need a trusted partner to help them navigate the complex maze of creators and platforms. A partner who breathes the brand and is able to rationalise the right choices in the brand’s journey.

What different does Wavemaker bring to the table for a new client looking at a content-heavy approach?

For Wavemaker, content is not just a value addition that we extend to clients. It is one of our three primary tenets, along with media and technology. Both as Wavemaker and as GroupM, we have always managed to be ahead of the curve for our clients and the way we have restructured ourselves this year under the content practice is a testament to that. Our clients will be able to rationalise all of its communications beyond advertising into a journey that will help them address business goals.

Globally, Wavemaker’s content arm adds 5% to the total revenue. How much does content add to the India business and how do you see it increasing?

In India, content has traditionally had a much higher contribution to the overall revenues than the international average. This is bound to grow significantly as we increase our investments in diversified services.

What is the role of content marketing in the purchase journey of the consumer?

This depends on the purpose that the brand sets out to achieve. However, generally, content has a higher impact on consideration or the priming phase, as we refer to it. Which is also why it is important for it to be continuous across the year.

Marketers believe that video is the next big thing in the content marketing space. But can brands get away from doing single videos around a topic and call it content marketing?

The video is actually the current ‘best thing’. We believe strongly that a brand’s video strategy today is the pivotal part of its content strategy and we are structuring ourselves accordingly. I believe a single video or even a single post can be content marketing. The question is not just the quantum of it, but the direction. What did the brand do before and after that video? Was it part of a consistent and focused effort, chasing a certain purpose? How did it help move the needle on the business challenge?

What are the tools used by Wavemaker to gauge ROI on content marketing for various brand objectives?

 We believe that ROI on content should not be a ‘one size fits all’, but heavily customised for the client and its purpose. To this end, we are breaking new ground every day. We have a symbiotic relationship with the start-up ecosystem and we are constantly benchmarking their offering and elevating the ones that are ready for the next level. For example, five years back, we created a head start for ourselves in social listening and we are recreating that today with our investments in technologies like neuroscience.

How much scope do you see in podcasts for brands’ content needs? What are the limitations associated with it?

India is fundamentally designed for prolific audio consumption. Our art heritage is not just music but also the spoken word, traditionally. Be it our traffic jams or public transport commutes or even the mobile penetration in rural media, all of them should have accounted for a vibrant audio offering by now. Unfortunately, we have under delivered and are still stuck with film music as our biggest content type.

This is set to change in a big way with Talk Radio, which we refer to as podcasts, over the next two to three years. We had two large limitations in this area. One was quality supply — not just individuals recording on their phone but content produced well in studios. The second was distribution. The former has been addressed with companies like IVM curating a vibrant repository of content across topics and the latter has been eased with many podcasting apps making content discovery easier, today.

I believe the next two years will see podcasting breaking out of its niche and finding the scale it desperately needs. Early investors in this trend will stand to gain.

Which have been the content division’s major content campaigns?

We have had a wonderful year in which we had the privilege of working with the best of clients one could ask for. We continued our contribution to the prestigious Jaago Re campaign by Tata Tea, added colour to Royal Stag Barrel Select’s Large Short films, Worked with Vodafone on their ambitious Sakhi launch and helped Mercedes create the visually stunning ‘Rushes’ project among many others.

Where do you see the biggest areas of growth in content marketing?

Content in regional languages is bound to grow dramatically. India is due for rural marketing 2.0. The video will grow manifold. The rise of OTT platforms will exponentially increase the ability of a brand to create IPs.

What were the major trends in content marketing in 2018 and how will 2019 shape up for the stream?

2018 saw the killing of the golden goose called ‘influencer marketing’. I think we have been over commoditising it for a while now as an industry. 2019 will see a reinvention here, led by Wavemaker. 2018 was great for brand integrations in cinema but only at a marketing level. 2019 will see projects where brands will become an integral part of cinema. Native content as an always-on piece will find takers among client. Better measurement will probably be the biggest milestone that we will cross in 2019.

Where are we Indians lacking in the content marketing game?

Actually, I don’t think we are lacking. Initiatives like Tata Tea Jaago Re and Royal Stag ‘Large Short Films’ are actually global gold standard. However, I do believe we play too safe as a market. Our inertia is much higher and hence we continue to look at content as a stepchild to mainline advertising.

One big international content campaign that inspires you.

There are obviously many. However my favourite over the years has been ‘dumb ways to die’ —  the Australian public service campaign to promote rail safety.