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Why Startups Prefer Digital Content And Short Films Over Mainstream Advertising

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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Having been at the crux of the startup evolution from back when Flipkart used to sell books to the mammoth it is today, I’ve seen a paradigm shift not just in products and services but in consumers as well. According to a report by Ernst and Young, smartphone penetration in India is expected to grow to 520 million by 2020.

This use of personal devices and smaller screens will result in persons watching content individually, with 45 per cent of all content consumed expected to be on the small screen by 2020. With mobile being so disruptive in India, and mobile-marketing expanding at a great pace, it seems only obvious for brands to go where the audience is.

Secondly, most startups are run by engineering mindsets—something they can measure, something which they can relate to, and that’s where digital medium is far much more prone to being used by marketers as compared to television advertisements or campaigns; that’s where running a digital video on Facebook or YouTube provides extreme targeting and customization that it becomes very engineer-driven.Startups find themselves at home while running videos and marketing campaigns online as compared to television advertising. A driving factor is the ‘instant gratification’ provided by digital platforms where popularity and reactions can be measured instantly

Thirdly, for any disruption in conventional advertising, you need to spend at least Rs 4-5crore, which is where online video content with a bucket of anything ranging from Rs. 50 lakhs to Rs. 1 crore will give you far greater bandwidth to experiment, and it’s a low-entry barrier to engage consumers; and that’s why between social media campaign and a television campaign, this becomes a good level-playing game for startups to create a brand for their consumers.

Till now, this medium never really existed; the first step would customarily be creating a page on Facebook and the next you know was to jump to television. Now there is another layer altogether that has come up, which is a seamless way of how startups can actually connect with their consumers and that’s why it is a very helpful change in the marketing ecosystem.

Fourthly, online videos provide a lot of engagement over television because television is a very passive medium to connect. A digital customer can react to a certain thing, and that can lead to comfortable sales as compared to television and that’s where probably startups are looking at engaging with consumers through online videos and campaigns; also, because the act of conversion from awareness to taking action is very fast, which in case of conventional advertising is very slow (you first see the ad, the next step is activation, and the process goes on).

It’s a broken channel of communication as compared to digital medium communication; that’s why probably if you are able to entice and excite a customer when they are seeing your video, probability of them becoming a loyalist is much higher as compared to conversion rates through television commercials. This is the paradigm shift that the industry is currently witnessing across the globe.

Lastly, in terms of building a brand, if your video is done properly- it has a brilliant cast, a great script, and an engaging storyline that is relatable to the consumers - the impact that it will cast psychologically on the consumer about the brand is huge, and that confidence in the consumer’s psyche communicating that this brand is stable, scalable, and comfortable, will make him/her fall in love with your brand instantly.

Why did startups initially take the television route? Because television advertising used to be known for credibility about 4 years back; so startups used to have this gold-rush to do television ads because the moment they will do TV ads, they would have achieved their goal. For instance, FashionAndYou.comdid television advertising, but they could not stabilize it; it was not sustainable for them.

Whereas, a video-driven marketing on YouTube or native platform is very much scalable and sustainable; that’s why, if you are able to crack a video, which can impart great credibility to your brand, it will take you places.

So the most fundamental aspect of online videos is– in television, inventory is limited, and the shelf-life for any communication is low; whereas, digital provides you perennial presence. You are always on search, and you are always available if people want to see you. 

Edition: December 2016

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