Tuesday 20 December 2011

Dear TV Trolley, RIP!

It’s quite interesting to reflect, how evolving technologies impact the business of home furniture. Be it phone tables, hi-fi music systems ensconced in the safety and compactness of a wall unit or Television trolleys.
I still remember the year 2005, when I bought my first 21 inch Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TV, ONIDA Black. Buying it from an online shopping portal was much easier than searching for a befitting TV trolley (Back in 2005, I did not come across any online shopping portal that sold home furniture).  And trust me, the joy of watching those colorful satellite channels soon faded when the reality of buying the TV trolley from a brick & mortar store struck me.
From locating a shop in NOIDA’s (Uttar Pradesh, India) atta market (local lingo for Sector 18 Market in NOIDA) that sold TV trolleys, to choosing the right trolley was an arduous task.
I had to bear in mind the mental map of the apartment floor plan, that decided the length X breadth X height of the trolley and also the other factors like weight of the TV; future upgrade projections like, if it is supportable for 25 inch/29 inch TV; cost benefit analysis of custom built versus off the shelf; with wheels or without wheels; glass & steel versus wood & laminate; match color of the trolley with TV or home décor; additional utility as VCD/DVD player stand etc., all these weighed heavily on my purchase decision.
The experience drained me so much that I wrote an e-mail to V Chandramouli, then VP Marketing & Sales, MIRC Electronics, requesting them to bundle TV trolleys with TV, as an optional standard accessory. Now I do not exactly remember the content of his reply e-mail, but I vaguely remember him mentioning that they would contemplate this request for 29 inch TVs.
As they say, good times never last; my TV trolley lost her beautiful black wheels and couple of long legs during her first relocation from NOIDA to Mumbai, and left us forever during our second relocation from Mumbai to Bangalore. The fact, that we never factored whether she’ll survive those long bumpy rides during our relocation, sitting quietly wrapped inside the truck and never complaining while she suffered, will always haunt us L
As said by one wise man, All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move, we have decided to move on the path of austerity and next time will save the trauma of losing a TV trolley and those precious 9 square feet of real estate by going in for a slick, fancy, hi-fi*, HD*, LED*, LCD*, Plasma*, Smart*, 3D* wall hung TV J
*I hope I have not offended any TV advertiser by not including their latest TV offering over here…yup I watch TV ads on TV J

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Mobile Video Commercials (MVCs)

On 8 December 2011, I caught the press release "Personalized Video Mobile Message Solutions", from a Delhi (India) based organization, Clk2c.
As the solution communicated by Clk2c vide their Press Release, seemed to be on similar lines as my earlier post, Wedding Cards and Mobile Applications (August 2011) it was but natural to have a look at the website of Clk2c.
If you still wonder what Clk2c is all about, well, it allows brands/marketers to send audio/video/textual (PowerPoint) commercials to the mobile devices of their Target Audience. Clk2c calls it Mobile Video Commercials (MVCs). How do brands send MVCs to mobile devices? It could be in response to a short code to which the user SMSes a keyword and receives the download URL, a forward/viral from a user who has received MVC, a SMS containing the MVC download URL sent by the brand, etc.
At a very fundamental level, the solution is about appization (mobile enablement) of digital assets created by brands for communication on media vehicles such as Internet, TV, Radio, Print etc. The mobile enablement of digital assets has been in vogue for quite some time now. In fact services such as Didmo allow users to create their own mobile apps for free (ad supported) or at a fee (free from ads) and publish them on app stores. It also provides certain credits to push the app URL as a SMS to the mobile numbers of the intended recipients.
Unlike Didmo's cloud based self service delivery model, Clk2c does mobile enablement vide its own studio, thus allowing creation of media assets for delivery as MVCs or mobile enabling / repurposing, existing media assets created by the brands for media vehicles other than mobile.
As a marketer / creative agency / media agency, it helps to commit spends if one knows:
 1. What are the services provided by Clk2c.com studios? – Apart from production of MVCs does it also re-produce or alter an existing media asset held by the brand, for publishing on Mobile Phones? E.g. in case of video assets, edit long shots and retain close shots, insertion of tele-text in font and colors to make the copy readable on a mobile screen, etc.
2. As a marketer what should be the ideal duration for the video advertisement on mobile, so that it does not take a long time to download.
3. Is the video file compatible on all mobile phones? What is the device coverage?
4. How do power point presentations play on mobile? Does Clk2c provide voice talent and voice recording facilities in its studio to accompany audio with power point presentations.
5. What are the metrics employed to gauge the efficiency of the campaign?
6. How different is the solution from MMS or publishing the brand video on app stores? Cannot the brand do a MMS campaign similar to a SMS campaign for distributing MVCs?
Introducing a new media solution is followed by lot of questions and comparison with old school learning before graduating to mass adoption.
With the number of mobile subscribers inching close to 900 million, hours spent by smartphone users @ 2.5 hours per day (a proportion that surpasses time spent on television), internet users on mobile surpassing users who access internet on desktop computers by 2013; are we going to see a trend where marketers / creative agencies create media assets specifically to communicate with the mobile audience?
As always, I'll request the readers of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Movie Promotion Then and Now….

As I write this post, my mind reels back to good old days of single screen theatres. I can still remember the color and feel of the yellow cellophane in which popcorn was sold. Yes popcorn was just popcorn and not the mind boggling variant of chocolate or caramel, with or without butter, salted or sweet….and how I can forget the clinking of bottle openers on the soft drink glass bottles in wooden crates, inviting one to have thanda!
But how would people know in those days if a movie is worth watching?
The first Don (starring Amitabh Bachhan, Zeenat Aman, and Pran) was released in 1978 without any promotion and was initially a flop. But later it was a hit mainly because of positive word of mouth publicity. Movie producers of that era neither had the luxury of modern technologies for heavy promotion nor did they have tech savvy street smart professionals who could understand the nuances of marketing. Though it sounds clichéd; Content was the king. The staple fare available to spread the word about movie were Film magazines, newspaper, radio, theatrical trailers, movie premieres and hand painted posters. I still remember those hand painted movie billboards and posters, showing a prominent pink on the cheeks of the leading lady and a hair lock falling delicately on her forehead!
Contrast it with present times where the brush that painted the poster (FYI…M.F Hussain started his career painting movie posters) got replaced by the swift mouse strokes on Adobe Photoshop.
Today, movie industry is more organized, is growing at a healthy pace and is expected to touch INR 137 billion by 2014 (as per industry estimates). There is a whole array of artillery available to fire the imagination of the movie crazy nation. Consider the recent example of Bollywood flick Ra-One, from digital to traditional, no stone was left unturned. 
Typical means of digital media promotion widely employed by film studios in India and elsewhere in the world are; official website for the film, static and gif/flash ads on various websites, mobile value added services, online internet games, console games based on movie characters, buzz in the social media, online contests etc. Digital media gives so much flexibility to experiment, that execution of the promo strategy is just limited by imagination.
Promo elements employed in traditional Print and TV/Radio media include paid advertisements, paid press releases, interviews,  appearances on TV shows, behind-the-scene clips, viral videos, theatrical trailers….to name a few.
Brand associations, movie merchandise, on ground activations, Retail POS (I came across a Ra-One burger combo in the theatre that was showing the movie!) are some of the other important promotional activities.
From an era of Golden Jubilees and Silver Jubilees to times when success parties are thrown if the movie survives a weeks’ time with a good opening, underscores the importance of movie promotion in a decade of hyper competition, media fragmentation, and reducing attention span. And yes, Content is still the king!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

The Mutton Song and Ad Jingles!

During my association with a Record Label, one thing that I enjoyed most was to pitch the catalogue to Brands and Agencies for synchronization in their advertisements on various media such as TV, Radio etc.
As a liberalized economy, we have seen how commodities have turned into Brands. Examples from our shopping cart include Wheat Flour, Chicken, Sugar etc. Though I have not come across advertisements where songs from Bollywood were used in the TV commercials of these branded commodities, however here is a pick of the songs that I would have pitched to the BRAND OWNERS of the following commodities.
Well this is my own list, however I’ll request the readers of this post if they can also pitch in with alternatives ;-) Let’s make the forum interactive!
Product: Fried Chicken
Song: You are my Chicken Fry
Film: Rock Dancer (1995)

It’s the year 2020 when all the hand pushed karts that sell chicken have become the franchisee of KFC. An executive on the way back  home, frustrated, hungry and tired after a hard day at work, looks at the chicken in the hand pushed kart…and starts to croon this song..

Voice Over: in a world where you can have no one to call as your own….KFC chicken is your only choice!
Product: Frozen Mutton
Song: The Mutton Song…Mein Hoon Taaza Mutton Mutton
Film: Luv Ka The End (2011)

Scenario/Context: It’s an animated film. In the fight between Frozen and Fresh, frozen mutton is crooning this song to make a case for buying frozen mutton..Woh hai baasi mutton mutton..arre mein hoon taaza mutton mutton..kholo dil ke button button..

Voice Over: Maanein Ya Na Maanein….Yahi hai asli taaza mutton. Toh kholenge na aap apne dil ke Button?!
Product: Chikki (Peanut Bar)
Song: Lonavla mein Chikki Khayenge…
Film: Ghulam (1998)

Scenario/Context: It’s again Year 2020. FMCG companies have branded this last bastion of the unbranded FMCG commodity. Chikki is a global snack now. But the global economy is reeling under yet another financial crisis and the best our guy can afford for his girl is a humble chikki.

Voice Over: Lonavle waali chikki ka wahi swad ab aapke karibi store mein uplabdh..vaccum packed to preserve Lonavla freshness and added with Vitamins..jab wahi swad yahan par mil sakta hai toh Lonavla kyun jaana, kyun hai na?!
Well this is a humorous take on the world of crazy Bollywood songs and the present reality where mundane commodities from ginger paste to chapatti are being turned into glitzy brands by FMCG companies in a race to deliver higher shareholder value.
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Friday 18 November 2011

Record Labels and Media Monitoring

As a fledgling Record Label, the biggest challenge is to ensure a high utilization of the catalogue across different media such as Television, Radio, Internet, Synchronization in Ad Films, Mobile downloads etc. 
In the case of Television, the Record Label can either do an annual deal with the Television Channel or “pay as you use”. In an annual deal the Channel pays a lump sum amount on an annual basis for the utilization of Record Label’s library (catalogue and upcoming titles), whereas in a “pay as you use” scenario the Channel pays each time it utilizes the track owned by the Label.
W.r.t “pay as you use”, there are two scenarios:
Scenario 1
The TV Channel’s Business Operations Manager gets in touch with the Record Label, informs them about the track that the Channel wants to use in Soap/Reality/Event etc., and confirms the License fee. Upon positive confirmation from the Operations Manager, the record Label is good to prepare the invoice, receive payment against the same and issue the License for Telecast of Songs/Music.
Scenario 2
The Supervising/Executive Producer of the Soap/Reality/Event etc. utilizes the Song/Music owned by the Record Label and miss to inform about its usage to the Business Operations manager. The said usage comes to the notice of the Record Label.  Although utilization of the track without the permission of the Record Label amounts to infringement of copyright, in the interest of business and to develop a long term relationship with the Television Channel, the Record Label approaches the Television Channel and informs them about this usage. However the Operations Manager requests the Label to provide exact details like Name of the Album, Name of the Track, Name of the Programme in which the track was utilized, Time of telecast etc. to confirm the usage.
Providing video recording of the claimed usage by the Record Label to the Channel sufficiently confirms the claimed usage. The big question is:
How can a Record Label obtain the Video recording of a Programme that has already been telecast?
OK, I can hear the clamoring of Youtube, Hulu etc..but what if it’s not there?
Enter the world of Media Monitoring Services..
Television Monitoring is one of the services provided by Media Monitoring Agencies. The Monitoring Agency records, retrieves, transcribe, translate, and deliver reports in various formats. They also provide archived recordings of telecast on various Television Channels.  The Record Label can employ the services of these Monitoring Agencies to obtain customized reports on the usage of its catalogue by various Television Channels.
Some examples of Monitoring agencies are Esha News, Perfect Monitoring, TAM etc.
The purpose of employing the services of monitoring agencies by Record Labels is to ensure the compliance of the contract terms between the Record Label and the Television Channel apart from checking unauthorized usage of the tracks owned by the Record Label.
Commercials – Build or Buy
Typically a half hour recording for a single channel costs anywhere from INR 175/- to INR 500/-,(could vary from agency to agency). However if the requested recording is more than a year old, one has to pay a premium.
In case the requirement of the Record Label is to get a monthly report on the usage of its tracks, a single report say Song Report By Brand or Trailer Report by Brand typically costs INR 30,000/- to INR 50,000/-.
Illustrated below are typical costs involved in setting up Record label’s own monitoring infrastructure. Though the estimates are illustrative the Bill of Material mentioned in the estimate will give the reader of this post a fair idea of the actual costs involved. Also note that the estimates do not cover the cost of sophisticated software employed by professional monitoring agencies to keep the human intervention minimal. In the below estimates, the capability of the employee manning the monitoring desk is critical to mark instances wherein the tracks from Record Label’s library are played. It will be fair to assume that the employee has sufficient knowledge of the tracks owned by the Record Label.
Please note that the cost is proportional to the number of channels to be monitored.

 I hope the information provided in this post will be helpful to the readers and will aid them in a similar situation.
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Monday 14 November 2011

Navigating the Maze of Music Royalties..

It won’t be wrong to say that Music Industry is the petri dish for any technological innovation in the distribution of entertainment content. Any new medium, internet is the first, or now mobile, the early impact of technological innovations bought about by these media are first felt by the Music Industry. Fuelled by explosive growth of Telecom, India is among the few countries in the world where digital music sales, primarily driven by Mobile Value Added Services (CRBT, Ringtones, etc.), have exceeded physical sales.
The way Indian Music Industry is organized is quite different from its counterparts in other geographic regions. The driver of the Indian Music Industry is Film Music, though the contribution of Independent Music Albums cannot be ignored, it’s relatively miniscule.
If you are someone who works in the Business Operations function of a Telco, Television, Events, Internet, Advertising or Radio organization and your job involves liaison with Music Labels/Music Rights Holder or ensuring Royalty/License payments to these rights holders, it would be good to know whom do you pay the Royalty/License amounts among each of the three entities viz. Producer, Publisher and the Record Label.

Producer:            The term Producer in the above context refers to the Producer of a motion picture. Producer can be an individual or an organized entity. In the Indian context, producer is the one who organizes Music Composer, Lyricist, Shooting Locations, Artists that appear in the Song Video and other paraphernalia that goes into the creation of a song. In usual practice, Producer buys out the rights of the Composers and Lyricist vide a Legal Contract and mutually agreed remuneration.  Producer in turn sells this bundle of rights along with Song Videos to the Record Label for a mutually agreed consideration and Marketing Deliverables. Record Label thus assumes the role of Publisher in the Musical and Literary works and the role of Producer for the Song Videos.
Publisher:           The Wikipedia “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_publisher_(popular_music)” definition of a Music Publisher is “music publisher (or publishing company) is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, film and television."
In Indian context, usually the Publisher is associated with Non Film Music Projects and undertakes the job of Production, Marketing, Distribution Arrangements and Monetization. If you would have watched the film “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, the character of “Uncle Ian”, will give you a fair idea of a Publisher’s role. Please note that “Uncle Ian” is not a stereotypical or an ideal Publisher, there is a lot of work put in by the Publishers to make their Artists successfulJ.
Disenchanted by the way Indian Music Industry is structured, there is a shift in the way Composers are now cutting deals with Film Producers. There is a section of Composers who do not like to part away with the Musical rights they hold in the composition.
Record Label:    It is an organized entity that undertakes production, manufacture, marketing/promotions and monetization of music recordings vide various online and off-line distribution channels. It also does talent scouting and development of new artists & manages contracts with various Producers and Publishers.

Deciphering the Rights controlled by Publisher, Record Company and the Producer in different components of Music:
Delivery/Utilization Medium:     Mobile
Component of the Medium:       Song Video
Royalty Payable to:                           ?
In an ideal scenario as depicted above, the royalty is payable to the Producer and the Publisher. But as I have mentioned above, in Indian context, the Producer acquires the rights of Composers/Lyricist and sells the bundle of Musical and Literary rights to the Record Label. Thus the royalties will be payable to the Record Label. But before you write that cheque in favor of Record Label, please ensure that supporting documents detailing the flow of rights from the Composer/Lyricist to the Producer and from Producer to the Record Label are furnished by the Record Label.
Though the above illustrations are ideal scenarios, it should serve well if you ask for the link or supporting documents from the entity that claims the right to the intellectual property for the purposes of granting the License to you. It’s akin to buying a piece of land or physical property, wherein you want to ensure that you are not being sold something that belongs to someone else!
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

In-video Online Advertisements and Legal Challenges

 In is in. We had in-game advertising (console, internet, PC, and mobile), followed by in-app advertising (display / text advertisements within mobile applications) and now the recent tie up between MediaMind Technologies Inc (Hyderabad, India: digital advertising technology firm, NASDAQ: MDMD) and Impossible Software (Hamburg, Germany), a leading provider of dynamic video technology, is set to revolutionize the in-video digital advertising landscape in India.
The service enables advertisers to embed brand communication in the form of image, text or video in pre-recorded video clips, thus fusing brand placement and video to create a new individual video file. E.g. imagine a video clip of a car cruising on a highway dotted with billboards advertising Brand X. Using the technology provided by MediaMind and Impossible, the original advertisement of Brand X in the pre-recorded video clip can be replaced and embedded with a new advertisement of Brand Y. This in effect entails modification and re-production of the original recorded video.
Billboards are one example of dynamic video area available in the pre-recorded video clip. Other dynamic video areas can be balloons, street furniture, side panel of the cruising car etc. which are available to an advertiser for placing their brands.
This innovation adds in-video inventory to the existing video inventory of pre/post/mid rolls which are typically sold to advertisers. However unlike pre/post/mid rolls, embedded advertisements are not seen as a distraction and stand a better chance of registering with the viewer.
A simplistic view of the in-video advertising eco-system:

Publishers – Online destinations of Video Content. These websites could be either the ones that provide aggregated content from original intellectual property right holders, e.g. Films (Yahoo MoviePlex, YouTube Box Office), Music Videos, TV Content, etc. (Licensed content) and User Generated Content (amateur producers of content).
Technology Enabler – In the present case, MediaMind / Impossible is an example.
Advertisers – Brand owners who would like to embed their brand’s graphic/video/text in the videos hosted on Publishers website. The other existing options available with the advertisers are Pre roll, Post roll and Mid roll (similar to the way we are conditioned to see the ads on television, before, in between, and after the television program).
However placement of advertisements in the content licensed from original intellectual property right holders can be a bit tacky, since it involves modification of the original video clip. Usually when intellectual property right holders license their content to distribution media such as TV, Radio, Internet etc, the grant of license is subject to provisions such as:
1.    The Licensee shall not use, broadcast, distribute or otherwise exploit or in any form, manner or format whatsoever, deal with the Licensed Content except as expressly provided for under the terms of Agreement.
2.    The Licensee shall not authorize or permit any use by any third party of the audio-visual and / or any part(s) thereof except as provided in the Agreement.
3.     The Licensee shall not be entitled to do any of the following:
a)    prepare or use any re-arrangement, parody or imitation of any of the said Works in any manner;
b)    associate the said Works with any material which is obscene, derogatory or defamatory in any manner;
c)    re-record, remix or in any way alter, edit, modify or adapt any of the said Works except to the extent permitted in this Agreement;
d)    use the said Works for any purpose other than for bona fide distribution by the Licensee on and from the said internet website during the Term of this Agreement;
e)    use or permit use of any of the said Works in conjunction with or in synchronization with any advertisement, commercial, publicity, promotion in any manner so as to make such said Works appear or pass off as a part of any advertisement, commercial, publicity, promotion, by whatever name called;
Clearly the onus is on the online Publishers / Distributors of video content to obtain necessary indemnities / amend existing Agreements, with the right holders / content producers, to cash the opportunity of in-video advertising without breach of legal obligations, if any. However if the commercial / legal arrangement between the publisher and the content producer is about sharing of the advertising revenues instead of fixed fee / royalties, the rights holder may waive off the legal provisions cited above.
Any new technological innovation / service offering, is an opportunity to re-look at the primary / secondary functions of an organization and to be nimble enough to grab the first low hanging fruits offered by the new opportunity.
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.
For further reading:

Thursday 25 August 2011

What is a Shirt called in Hindi?

How often have you been stumped by someone who asked you what is the Hindi (or any other Indian language equivalent) word for SHIRT or COMPUTER. Sometimes such questions form part of our casual coffee table conversations. In the globalized, diversified, and multi-cultural workplaces it is hard to remember the Indian language equivalent of a particular English word.
The purpose of this post is not to evangelize Indian languages but rather discuss how this situation lends itself to an interesting idea for a game show. The medium of the game show can be TV/Print/Internet/ Radio and/or SMS.
Let us discuss how it plays out on Radio.

Game Show/Interstitial Title
Khelo Khel Zubaani, Hum Kitne Hindustaani
Target Audience
All Indians!
Content bank of commonly used English words in place of Indian language equivalent. Top of the mind examples are Shirt, Train, Computer, Bottle, Phone, Bag, Table etc. The research team of the station has to sift through the Indian Language say Hindi to English dictionary to create a sizeable content bank.
Skill Set - Ideally the editorial team or language SMEs.
User Gratification
Gift Vouchers, Brick from the Berlin Wall J etc.
Game Play
3 Levels of increasing complexity
Sponsorship Opportunity
By product(s)
Feeds content to the social media presence of the Radio Station

Game Play – Level 1
Question to listeners by RJ:
What is the Indian language (e.g. Hindi) equivalent of the word SHIRT?
Listeners can respond via SMS or a phone call.
The first correct entry/randomly chosen entry, advances to Level 2.
Game Play – Level 2
RJ calls up first correct entry/randomly chosen entry, submitted by SMS. In case the listener has phoned and answered correctly, the RJ can continue on the same call with Level 2 Question. It is up to RJ’s discretion. RJ asks the player to create a sentence within 10 seconds using the Indian language equivalent of the word SHIRT.
The player advances to level 3 on a correct answer. If the player answers incorrectly, RJ fields a new question to radio listeners and the loop continues.
Game Play – Level 3
As this is a radio show, in level 3 the player has to sing a line from a song with the word SHIRT or its Indian language equivalent.
The player wins a gift voucher for the correct answer.  If the player answers incorrectly, the RJ fields a new question to radio listeners and the loop continues.
The game show format can be adapted by the radio station according to the state in which it is present. In Maharashtra it can be Marathi equivalent of the English words, in Andhra it can be Telugu equivalent of English words and so on.
The Game Play suggested in this blog is illustrative, one can think of more than three levels and the twists and turns are only limited by imagination. For the sake of brevity, the format mentioned in this post is not exhaustive and can be further embellished.
If the readers of this post are from the Mobile Value Added Services business, they can appreciate how the concept lends itself as a SMS contest.
If the same concept is taken to television, I would like to see the anchor as one who is associated with chaste language. In HSM (Hindi speaking markets), the names that come to my mind are BigB (Amitabh Bachchan, not Big BudgetJ) and Ashutosh Rana.
I can detail the concept for other media, but it will make this post pretty lengthy. Signing off for now,
As always, I will request the readers of this post if you have time, please drop a line.

Monday 22 August 2011

Radio Jockey Talk and Listener Engagement Formats

If you sat through the end of any popular game show on television and noticed the credit rolls, you would have come across a mention similar to format owned by ….
Television game shows are usually quiz or activity based, example Kaun Bangea Crorepati adapted from Who wants to be a Millionaire (made famous by Slumdog Millionaire) or Zor Ka Jhatka adapted from Wipeout. Format based shows on a particular television channel during a year are 3 - 4 in number.
Compare this to radio, tune into a radio channel at any given day part, and you are engaged, interacted and entertained by the Radio Jockey (RJ) talk. It could be a show like Maaro your line in the morning or Kya Bolta Bengaluru in the evening.
The creative challenge is to introduce such concepts at regular frequencies to keep the listener interest alive. For radio stations, alacrity is must.
Sometimes I wonder if radio stations have thought of documenting these creative formats and publishing them as a book to establish their thought leadership. I have come across the show archives on their websites but not an offline presence. I can picture a book in my mind, titled Popular Radio Listener Engagement Activity formats. Once the listener engagement formats are well documented and articulated, they can be licensed to other radio stations in India or overseas markets. This will not only  give an edge to the radio station in the monetization of its knowledge assets vide licensing revenues, but will also establish it as a creative powerhouse. Mention of the wittiest user responses along with the format description will make it an enjoyable read and listen (if accompanied by a CD). It will also give the advertising brands an idea about how the station can creatively weave the brand communication into such engaging activities.
Once the book is published, it will also act as an incentive for the users to engage with the radio stations and get a chance to have their names printed in the book.
Many television programs and Bollywood movies have done this in the past. BBC Mastermind is one such example.
Some of the listener engagement activities on radio can also make a way for team building activities or psychological/psychometric tests in a corporate environment (activities like Are you a workaholic).
Cabinet approval for radio licensing and impending slew of new radio stations (Phase III) that will hit the airwaves will further increase the competition, thereby making it vital for existing radio stations to push the creative envelope and listener engagement!
As always, I will request the readers of this post if you have time, please drop a line.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Wedding Cards and Mobile Applications!

Today, I received the wedding invitation of one of my colleagues, over e-mail. The e-mail message had a wedding invite attached to it that sparked a series of thoughts….
‘What if there was a solution that could help appize the wedding invitation to a mobile application’. The application download URL with customized text/audio/video message can then be readily distributed to friends and relatives over SMS/MMS.
The recipient upon opening the mobile wedding invitation sees the wedding invite or an audio invite by the would be bride/groom, interactive maps that provide direction and route guidance to the venue, save the date in the calendar, schedule congratulatory SMS to be sent on the D-day and subsequent anniversaries, guest book which allows the recipient to confirm their presence and itinerary for the wedding, etc. This is an illustrative feature list, I am sure the readers of this post will have many more creative inputs.
This solution is not entirely new. There are online portals (http://www.didmo.com) which help lay users create mobile applications without any knowledge of programming, however a free version is usually ad supported and we don’t want ads in our wedding invitation! The fact that a free version is an ad supported model, the idea does not lend to consumer (B2C) model (however it does if you are willing to shell out $’s) as a pure play business, especially if the mobile application in question is a wedding invitation!
In Indian context I see it as a business to business (B2B) model, as a services business, wherein the card print shop provides an option of creating a mobile wedding invitation to the buyer. If the buyer wants, the card print shop logs on to the online terminal application provided by the appizer to create a mobile wedding invite. Appizer charges a fixed amount to the card print shop, which in turn charges monies to the buyer. Since the same card print shop is also associated with the creative design/layout/physical print, of the wedding invite, it helps the card print shop to extend its bouquet of services and the buyer gets both physical print and mobile solution under one roof.
In India and elsewhere in the world, match making also happens by volunteering aunts/uncles/friends/neighbors (social matrimony – check out http://www.youpid.in or the MatrimonyMaster facebook application). The Appizer can extend the B2B model to marriage bureaus/brick’n’mortar presence of online matrimonial portals, for the creation of mobile bio-data’s for people who register with them. The parents of would be bride/groom can then share the mobile bio data’s of their son/daughter to social acquaintances thus spreading the viral! Apart from text the mobile bio data’s can have elements of graphics and video.
Print media power houses that have presence in the space of internet and mobile applications are ideally suited to offer the buyers of print matrimonial classified space an option to create mobile bio data’s and put the download URL in the print classified ad.
Internet penetration and the fact that India has over 10 million marriages annually, has positively impacted the business of online matrimony portals, it’s time to take it to the next frontier of mobile devices.
As always, I will request the readers of this post if you have time, please drop a line.

Monday 8 August 2011

The Way Satellite Television promotes BIG Ticket Movies on Television

We have come a long way since the early days of internet when pop-ups were frequently used to peddle advertisements. Then came pop-up blockers which made surfing a pleasant experience and now except for the embedded advertisements (display, text, etc.) or a roadblock on the webpage, consuming internet is not obstructed by such intrusive advertising.
Contrast this with television, for a majority of people who don't have digital cable or personal video recorders or tivo, they have to stand the commercial breaks. But now tolerance towards commercial breaks is ingrained culturally and they are no more perceived as intrusion but instead utilized to answer nature's call, see what other channels have to offer, for homemakers it's an opportune time to progress kitchen chores, if someone likes sleaze, deodorant advertisement will live up to their expectations. Things one can do in a commercial break are just limited by imagination J
For quite some time now a particular English movie channel is promoting an upcoming movie of the decade on their channel, which was released in theatres in the year 2009 as a 3D movie. The movie has strange looking blue characters whose primary mode of transport is oversized combat birds. I was not able to see the movie in theatres and am eagerly looking forward to catch it on television (albeit in non 3D).
The television channel has adopted the established strategies to promote the movie in order to build planned/appointment viewing for this movie of the decade. This includes the normal fare of advertisement spots on their channel, other channels (I assume), print advertisements (I assume) and out of home sites (I assume). I also anticipate contests around the movie and contests during the showing of the movie on television (to retain viewership during commercial breaks).
However one mode of promotion that I particularly felt was obstructive while watching another movie on the same channel was a graphic formation of a bird that flew from the top left of the screen to the bottom center and then settling back to the top left portion of the screen. It’s a great way to grab viewer attention and acts as a reinforcement that the movie of the decade will be shown on so and so date/time, but it breaks the viewer attention from what they are currently seeing. Drawing an analogy to internet advertising, it is akin to a pop up that startles a person from their current on screen activity. Fortunately one can close the popup windows and allow/dis-allow showing of popups on their computer but not this form of advertising on television.
Another form which could have been adopted was the utilization of the bottom panel of the TV screen, but that would hide the sub-titles.
Since the channel must have invested considerable monies to acquire the satellite rights of this sci-fi visual effects treat, it is understandable that they would go all out to promote this movie with a significant amount of advertising and marketing war chest. I am sure there can be other non-startling/non obtrusive forms to reinforce the movie of the decade time slot to the viewers of this channel, such as internet advertising (text + display)/social media/radio spots announcing movie trivia and show date/timings etc.
Usually while signing up for internet mail/social media accounts, the users have an option to upload their Profile/Avatar photo, maybe the channel can tie up with such websites to offer their users an Avatar gallery to choose a profile photo if they don’t want to put up their actual photos. An Avatar for an Avatar….!!
As always, I will request the readers of this post if you have time, please drop a line.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Live Darshan, Horoscope..blah blah..on your TV, next what Mr. DTH?

Picture a young person, 22-28 years of age, working in a private firm at an entry level position, modest means, unmarried and living in a big city with shining lights. Call him Shyam.
Picture a person who is 17 -22 years old, just finished school or probably in the sophomore year at the university college in a big city with shining lights, but belongs to a Tier 2 or a Tier 3 town, and is dependent on the pocket money provided by the parents. Call her Shaina.
I can visualize the puzzled look on the faces of both Shyam and Shaina, when they see an advertisement about a particular band performing live at Blue Frog or a Hard Rock Café. Both of them want to be there but are either financially constrained, or being first timers are shy of being in a live music performance club. Probably Shyam and Shaina would have been more comfortable if they had already seen and appreciated the bands belting out one number after another, in these live music performance clubs.
Now, is there a business opportunity here???
According to me it makes a novel offering for subscribers of DTH Operators. DTH being a regulated business, the only differentiators are technology and content. Technology is not indigenous, and what is available to DTH Operator A from a foreign vendor, is also available to DTH Operator B from the same vendor. Speaking of content, the television channels are the same, whether I get them from Operator A or Operator B. To differentiate themselves, the operators are now focusing on extending Value Added / Active / Interactive services to their subscribers to increase their Average Revenue per User (ARPU). DTH value added services is a major thrust area for the operators if one goes by the TV campaigns which focus on value added services and interviews of the top honchos, available in the public domain.
Either as live broadcast feed or as pay per view, watching some of the best bands performing at these music performance clubs / cafes, in the comfort of my home, with the Dolby surround feature of the set top box provided by my DTH operator, is a visual delight.
Everyone is a winner, Subscriber’s aspirational and differentiated content needs are satisfied, Live Music Performance Club gets a revenue share for each pay per view, thus compensating for the content and production costs, it also take its artist management and promotion services to the new level, DTH Operator becomes the first one to offer this content followed by other me too’s, the Band, reaches out to far more people outside the club.   
Once the DTH technology matures and more reverse path (two way communication) applications emerge on the landscape, I can like the band, request a song, buy the album (Television Commerce or T-Commerce), the opportunities are just limited by imagination.
As always, I will request the readers of this post if you have time, please drop a line.

Thursday 14 July 2011

What’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement? – Part 4

Being associated with the publishing and licensing division of a music label during my professional journey, I had the responsibility to drive revenues from non-physical sources (non CD, DVD, & Music Cassette sales) of content monetization, e.g. television, brands, advertising agencies etc. However, driving revenues through licensing of music tracks for synchronization into TV/Radio/Internet/OOH advertisements is a long winded road.
One, you should know your catalogue well and second you should have the idea on how your catalogue of music can help a brand, or does it go well with the brand positioning and messaging. You need to be both a sales person and a creative thinker rolled into one. No brand or agency will entertain you if you are unable to understand the brand and what it stands for.
When I say you should know the catalogue well, it includes your knowledge of the catalogue (including regional languages) and parts of the specific tracks. I remember, I used to listen to each song many times to internalize the music, lyrics, rhythm, kind of genre, mood, emotions invoked, and the product category that it complemented.
Consider the track ‘khairiyat hai..sab khairiyat hai…’. (Meaning – things are well), according to me the lyrics are well suited to personal care and pharma brands. Even the song video showed the lead actor and actress (who played the role of husband and wife) romancing on the beach (with their clothes on :-)) and overall the song had a good feel. So it makes sense to send out mails to brand/creative agencies present in the pharma/personal care category with proactive suggestions on how the song could be tied to the storyboard/brand ethos.
Knowing the catalogue is one part, and the second and the most important part is the communication of the catalogue to brand owners/creative agencies. The agencies / brands should be made aware of any new releases. While communicating to the agencies, one important consideration is the accounts being handled by them so as to highlight the parts of the album that complement the brands handled by these agencies.
However, I think that this activity should be more clinical and the agency/brand owners should be able to sample the catalogue with added meta data elements of mood, genre, and emotions inherent to the song. Usually meta data tends to be factual or quantitative (e.g. Album Name, Song Name, Duration, Singer, Composer etc.), but what I speak of are qualitative elements that’ll aid decision making and requirement matching from a creative perspective. It’s important to understand your audience and audience’s audience!
Just imagine, if I have a password protected website with a neat graphical user interface, where the brand owner/agency can navigate basis the filters of meta data and listen to the audio file/watch song video, chances are that one will have more deal closures. According to me the offline method of sending CDs with a note about the album is not very effective.
Unfortunately low volumes of revenue from synchronization deals don’t make a business case for music labels especially smaller ones to go the high touch and high tech route. But I assume that for music labels that have digitized their entire catalogue for digital sales to consumers, it is an incremental effort to enable a B2B portal.
Indians being music lovers and India being a country with millions of songs released till date by music labels of all sizes, it presents an opportunity for third party cloud service providers to digitize the libraries of existing labels, including the small players and enable a presentation layer for such labels to showcase to brand owners/creative agencies.
This post concludes 4 part series of what’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement?
As always, I will request the readers of this post if you have time, please drop a line.