Win­ning Big

Afaqs!Re­porter spoke to the trio be­hind Fil­terCopy and Dice Me­dia, as they bask in the af­ter­glow of their deal with Net­flix.

The Brand Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - By Shweta Mulki [email protected]

It’s amaz­ing. Hoard­ings are a great van­ity mar­ket­ing met­ric and peo­ple have been send­ing us pic­tures from dif­fer­ent cities,” says Aditi Shri­vas­tava who along with Ash­win Suresh and Anirudh Pan­dita founded dig­i­tal me­dia com­pany Pocket Aces in 2014.

We are at the premier of a new sea­son of their se­ries, What The Folks, and the Mum­bai-based trio are in the spot­light as their se­ries, Lit­tle Things, ac­quired by Net­flix, shines in full OOH glory across In­dia. The deal also in­cludes a new com­edy se­ries for the stream­ing gi­ant.

Lit­tle Things, which has been trend­ing on Net­flix, is the first pre-ex­ist­ing se­ries to be ex­clu­sively ac­quired by the stream­ing ser­vice. “Peo­ple from Spain and Canada are in­quir­ing about DVDs. No In­dian show has or­gan­i­cally trav­elled this well across the world,” claims Pan­dita.

The trio (all engi­neers raised in cities in the Mid­dle East) left their fi­nance jobs in New York City in 2011 to pur­sue their pas­sion in In­dia. “There was so much ef­fort put in build­ing from scratch, and there were these big com­pany chal­lenges - ev­ery de­ci­sion had to go through lay­ers, ‘Why not do this on my own?’,” re­calls Suresh when speak­ing about his stint at Jun­glee Pic­tures.

To­wards the end 2016, Pocket Aces had raised $3 mil­lion via Se­quoia Cap­i­tal In­dia and other in­vestors in­clud­ing T.V. Mo­han­das Pai-led Aarin Cap­i­tal. It now em­ploys over 100 em­ploy­ees and in ad­di­tion to, Dice Me­dia and Fil­terCopy, runs Gob­ble (food-re­lated con­tent), and an in­ter­ac­tive gam­ing app, Loco - ac­quired ear­lier this year.

We catch up with the hus­band-wife duo - Shri­vas­tava and Suresh - and Pan­dita, on how they came out aces in this space. Edited Ex­cerpts:

You wanted to make movies When did you de­cide to go all into dig­i­tal video?

Suresh/Pan­dita: We felt movies was a medium that brought good cre­ators to the au­di­ence in a prof­itable man­ner. But ev­ery­thing was such a hur­dle and we had no con­trol on the setup. We then looked at dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion and video con­tent and started with a se­ries - ‘Not Fit’ un­der Dice Me­dia, but our first re­lease was a satir­i­cal video called ‘Ban Ban’. That video crossed a mil­lion views in three days, be­com­ing In­dia’s most vi­ral video on Face­book that year (2015).

Next, we did smaller sketches un­der Fil­terCopy, and a satir­i­cal news show called NewsDar­shan - an­chored by Mithila Palkar. Right around then, we did a sketch called ‘Con­fus­ing Things Girl­friends Say’ with Palkar and our writer Dhruv Se­h­gal, (he was among the first em­ploy­ees to join the com­pany) which re­ceived close to 25 mil­lion or­ganic views - this even­tu­ally led to Lit­tle Things with the same lead­ing pair.

What about the show’s fans who watched sea­son 1 on YouTube, but haven’t sub­scribed to Net­flix?

Suresh/Shri­vas­tava: We make sure to men­tion that Net­flix is free to view for the first month when pro­mot­ing Lit­tle Things sea­son 2 on YouTube or In­sta­gram. So they can watch Lit­tle Things and more. Peo­ple watch our show in one week­end binge!

Fil­terCopy is a 2-min snack­ing for­mat and Dice is long-form se­ries for­mat. Does brand dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion mat­ter?

Shri­vas­tava/Suresh: If you are try­ing to build a new age me­dia com­pany, you ac­knowl­edge that peo­ple want to con­sume dif­fer­ent types of con­tent. Dice Me­dia is a high value-high IP, large scale and large bud­get prop­erty - fo­cused on pro­duc­ing multi-sea­son shows. Fil­terCopy helps us re­main topof-mind ev­ery day, ev­ery hour and it’s be­come like our base mar­ket­ing plat­form for our con­tent across the board. It’s like our GEC - our mass reach medium. We’ve had some chal­lenges dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing our brands, but we’ve been mak­ing con­certed ef­forts for ev­ery­one to un­der­stand each brand within Pocket Aces.

Ad­ver­tis­ers and brands: How did they see you, and what’s changed?

Suresh: The first six to seven months were just about cre­at­ing con­tent. We needed to know we could con­sis­tently per­form and didn’t re­ally do any brand out­reach at this stage. The first brand that reached out to us was Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chill­ies En­ter­tain­ment, for the pro­mo­tion

of their movie - Fan. We launched a video, as part of the pro­mo­tions, ‘Ev­ery SRK fan ever’ after which we felt ready to talk to brands. Brands such as Swiggy, Vel­vetCase and FreeCharge were among the first ones. With Vel­vetCase we had a 5-month-long con­tract, and they even came on board as Pow­ered-By spon­sors for Lit­tle Things.

Shri­vas­tava: Many from back­grounds like our’s see the need for pro­gres­sive con­tent. But be­ing an out­sider had been a de­ter­rent, with agen­cies, es­pe­cially, as they all know each other, and our com­peti­tors too, hav­ing been in the ecosys­tem for long. We were catch­ing up with con­tent, but when it came to brands, we won­dered what to do. It was about break­ing into re­la­tion­ships one at a time and aim­ing for long-term deals. We’ve done a lot of re­peat brand con­ver­sions, where even first movers such as TVF have low re­peat con­ver­sions.

How do think brands look at con­tent to­day ver­sus ear­lier?

Shri­vas­tava/Suresh: We un­der­stand how CMOs mea­sure mar­ket per­for­mance be­yond reach and en­gage­ment. We look at clients’ app down­loads, traf­fic, time spent, etc. We’ve even tied up with an in­de­pen­dent agency to mea­sure brand re­call and upticks in con­sump­tion for big off­line brands such as Kurkure, Sam­sung, etc. Brands such as these and even new digi-savvy brands see that we un­der­stand their chal­lenges and their needs when we send those in­ter­nal re­ports. What The Folks, for in­stance, is spon­sored by a di­verse bunch of brands such as Epigamia, Pep­per­fry and Google. We’ve worked with in­ter­na­tional names who’ve usu­ally found it hard to work with small play­ers in In­dia.

Shri­vas­tava: The younger peo­ple in mar­ket­ing teams are our au­di­ences, but for the CMOs who fi­nally sign

off on the big cheque, it’s about per­cep­tion. Syn­di­ca­tion has helped and many of them have watched our con­tent on Tata Sky or Ola Play or on in-flight en­ter­tain­ment screens. We’ve also had great brand-to-brand re­fer­rals.

How did you win over in­vestors that early on in your jour­ney?

Suresh: Aniruddh and me, hav­ing worked in pri­vate eq­uity helped, but the first time we went into Se­quioa was after ‘Ban Ban’. We were quite au­da­cious then and told them, “Guys, we made a video, it’s vi­ral, chalo in­vest karo” and learned that it doesn’t work like that. But it did put us on their radar. When we went to them six months later, they were aware of 20-30 of our vi­ral videos. They then com­mis­sioned us to make a video for their an­nual hackathon which re­ally boosted regis­tra­tions, so that helped. The funds en­abled us to in­vest bet­ter in our peo­ple (good cre­ative teams need a great en­vi­ron­ment), tech­nol­ogy, and take bet­ter bets con­tent-wise.

How do you keep your con­tent fresh and the au­di­ences en­gaged?

Pan­dita/Shri­vas­tava: We ob­ses­sively look at data. View­ers in the age bracket 15 to 35 years from 98 per cent of our au­di­ence. Even our writ­ers track data, such as watch times, re­ten­tion rates, drop-off points, com­ments and shares in the first hour, etc. For in­stance, cre­ators love their logo up­front, but we’ve learned from data that peo­ple drop off there, so we have a 10-sec­ond hook scene be­fore the ti­tle which in-turn goes by quickly and the drop offs are re­duced. Be­sides Lit­tle Things, What the Folks and Adult­ing owe their ge­n­e­sis to data too. All ac­tors in our se­ries come from our short videos. The themes, jokes have all been tested through short videos, memes, etc. ■

The Founders: (L-R) Pan­dita, Shri­vas­tava and Suresh

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.