‘The artificial line between premium and popular content does not exist for consumers’

In a discussion about driving business results through the power of transmedia marketing, Mediacorp’s chief commercial and digital officer Parminder Singh spoke to YouTube Partnerships regional director for Asia-Pacific Ajay Vidyasagar, Havas Group Singapore CEO Jacqui Lim and Unilever general manager Banjo Castillo, about a wide array of subjects from how marketing approaches had changed to what marketers need to keep in mind about how consumers consume content. Excerpts: 

On Unilever’s marketing priorities:

Banjo Castillo: “When I started 18 years ago, consumer research took three to six months to come in, before you even analysed it. Today, with social listening and even our customer care lines, we get information on the fly.

“For now, we are focusing on developing data driven marketing capabilities.

“Part of that is knowing that consumers have a journey across not just media platforms but different screens.

“We realise we have to do precision and performance marketing across different channels; transmedia is a very important muscle we need to build.”

On going in for a blended CPV model (an experimental model that tracked how best to reach viewers using a combination of digital video and traditional television developed by Unilever with Mediacorp)

Banjo Castillo: “The first reason was reach. There was no single media that would give us reach for the different brands we have.

“The problem was measurability.

“In Singapore, a prosperous country with well-travelled people, consumer needs are changing.

“As Unilever, we were not able to stay with comfortable big mass brands like Sunsilk or Lifebuoy. There was a need for new brands launched like (‘green’ detergent) Seventh Generation or (eco-friendly personal care) Love Beauty and Planet.

“With the emergence of these brands, we had a cross-platform media plan that needed to be measured properly.

“With many brands fighting for the same media money, it was important to have a blended CPV to make sure we get the most bang for our buck.

“Especially in Singapore, where people have different media habits and go to many screens, it is no longer an ‘or’. You need to really consider you are in the world of ‘and’.

“You have finite resources. The key is efficiency, partnerships and being willing to try, fail and try again to crack this.”

On media agencies choosing between various options

Jacqui Lim: “When we are given a budget, a lot of planning goes into optimising for the KPIs.

“It starts with a very solid brief. But usually, a lot of planners don’t challenge clients enough on understanding the right KPIs before we dive into a media plan and decide the channels to choose.

“That’s where the discipline and rigour needs to be in place.

“Everything is audience-centric informed by proper data and tools. But the tools should not be the only consideration factor in making media choices.

“Clients are expecting us to look at partnerships and behave in a more integrated fashion, be more audience-centric and platform agnostic

“And so, planning goes way beyond just choosing between television and online video.

On the changes made by Mediacorp:

Jacqui Lim: “Rate rationalisation is a step in the right direction. Clients find it a big step forward in bringing price parity when it comes to media cost efficiency.

“What would be exciting is if we look beyond price parity or media cost parity.

“For instance, measurement of interactions and engagements which I think is in the pipeline but has not been shared by Mediacorp, yet.

“It could be a step towards programmatic TV. That is really important since it would allow data and targeting to be more equivalent to the digital world. Then, we won’t have the problem of matching what’s possible and what’s available.

“It will mean that in addition to price parity, you are creating more meaningful connections.”  

On why partnering with Mediacorp was important for YouTube:

Ajay Vidyasagar: “At YouTube, we pin our business around the vectors of viewer, creator and advertiser.

“The world of online video started with independent creators inputting content on the platform. That led to a surge of consumption all over the world. Today we have two billion visitors every month, making it among the single largest media platforms in the world.

“In Singapore, YouTube has more reach than most standalone media platforms.

“What is really important is to have the ability to represent premium and popular content, both from the domestic heartland and all over the world. Mediacorp has gives us an amazing ability to showcase the premium folio, along with the rich endemic creator content we have.”

On YouTube’s advice to advertisers

Ajay Vidyasagar: “There is a bit of an old-world taxonomy that operates in the minds of marketers and brand leaders. They believe they need to behave a certain way on television and differently on digital. It’s a myth that has begun to self destruct but there is more work that needs to be done.

“The world of TV was the domain of a couple of dozen content creators eight to 10 years back and they dictated what the world watched, at what time and in what form.

“Digital destroyed that kitchen cabinet of content creation. We now have millions of storytellers putting out content which is consumed at an extraordinary scale.

“The biggest learning from a decade back to now is that this artificial line between premium and popular content does not exist in the heads of consumers.

“They consume a story, be it on YouTube or Twitter. It’s the storyline that matters and not where they see it.

“My message, after reflecting, is to really focus on the content and not so much the medium. Marketers are a couple of years behind but it’s clearly a journey that has already happened with consumers.”


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