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Performance Arts is artworks created through actions performed by the artist or other participants, which may be live or recorded, spontaneous or scripted. This traditional definition of performance arts is renewed with emergence of the social media giant – TikTok. Acts of users on TikTok is the new performance arts of the 21st century. Videos ranging from lip dubbing to fine arts, including paintings, drawings, collages, users of TikTok are the new artists. It is time to look at TikTok as the platform of authentic artists and creators and as a landmine of campaigns for brands.

Performance arts has, throughout the history evolved to what we see now – theatre, music, dance, mimckery, spoken word, puppetry etc. 

The traces of performance art can be traced back to the First World War and Hugo Ball’s Dada Manifesto, which rejected a world that could be consumed by war and called for a new society–and a new form of art for that society. The Dadaists prized nonsense, irrationality, and intuition over reason and logic, and performed songs and actions that reflected this attitude.

Also flourishing at the time was a movement called Fluxus, taking its name from the word flux, meaning “flow,” dubbed by the revolutionary Lithuanian-American artist George Maciunas. The living art of Fluxus set the stage for the development of performance art, which moved away from static installations to placing more and more emphasis on the actions of the artists themselves. 

This evolution has given birth to performance arts where the exposure of the self is itself, an art. In the context of the medium’s history as well as its current practice, the most defining characteristic of performance art is that it must be centered on the action carried out by the artist. Today’s, most thriving performance arts like stand-up comedy, spoken word poetry, open mic music have this characteristic. These arts are documented on a camera and, though the arts are time bound, the documentation lives on forever. 

“Art is the activity by which a person, having experienced an emotion, intentionally transmits it to others”

Leo Tolstoy

Performance art is about how well the artist is able to convey his or her idea. Most performance arts make the audience just think or feel after the act. “It’s the action that’s the art, not so much the physical result,” says performance art curator and performance-only Grace Exhibition Space co-director Erik Hokanson. “A lot of times there’s little or no result other than what you walk away from the piece with thinking or feeling.” (Source: HyperAllergic)

What is it about performance art which makes it popular?

Following World War II, performance emerged as a useful way for artists to explore philosophical and psychological questions about human existence.  For this generation, who had witnessed destruction caused by the Holocaust and atomic bombs, the body itself offered a powerful medium to communicate shared physical and emotional experience.

In the politicized environment of the 1960s, many artists employed performance to address emerging social concerns.  For feminist artists in particular, using their body in live performance proved effective in challenging historical representations of women.

Throughout these years, performance art has forced us to think about issues in a way that can be disturbing and uncomfortable, but it can also make us laugh by calling attention to the absurdities and the idiosyncrasies of human behavior.

It has paved the way for poets to take up issues like feminism, racism, sexism etc. and bring attention of the mass audience to it. It has let comedians talk about the political state of their countries and make the guardians of the state answerable to the public. Performance Art has let the general public express themselves through word, dance, music, mimickery and put forth their feelings and thoughts.

In the 21st century, performance art might not be as radical as in the past, it has however shaped to blur the lines of what composes as performance art and what does not. Performance art, in the age of this digital revolution, seems to be what its audience is willing to designate as such. An Instagram user, might view a makeup makeover of 21 days a performance art. 

A good example of why any performance today maybe a piece of performance art is spoken word poetry. Poetry readings have existed for centuries, and although it is debatable what they accomplish, it is possible that spoken-word poetry has come into being by extension of that very concept. But given the evidence, there is something critical that this form is accomplishing. It is merging performance with the written word which gives a writer/performer additional apparatus to express. It isn’t merely knowledge of words that poetry channels. It is also emotion and imagination.

Platforms like AIB, Kommune, Bombay Lokal are the new museums for artists to let their work and collection be sold, collected, or exhibited. Such platforms, with the rise of YouTube and Instagram has let artists try and experiment with various performance arts. #DontRushChallenge is one such example of how artists have blurred the lines of performance art on social media.

Social Media platforms like Vine, back in 2016 and TikTok now, has in essence given rise to a modern-day Renaissance. Fundamentally, TikTok is a social platform for making, sharing and watching short videos using your Android phone or iPhone. These may be anywhere between three and 60 seconds long.

Functionally, TikTok does not offer much you can’t find in other apps. What really makes it so important is how it’s actually being used, by hundreds of millions around the world. The feature of prerecorded audios and music lets the users decide what they want to create. 

Why are people drawn to TikTok?

Remember the cliché projections of ‘living the perfect life’ on Instagram? Instagram and Facebook to some extent presented the aspiring, perfect lives of users and TikTok offers the perfect antidote to it.

In TikTok videos there’s a real sense of kids ‘being themselves’ that you don’t get on other platforms. They aren’t heavily edited and cautiously produced, in fact they are the opposite of it. And that’s the point. 

With numerous visual and auditory effects in the hand of each user, several thousand combinations have given rise to a generation of amateur comedians who otherwise never would have been discovered. TikTok is also becoming the platform for sharing art, design, 3D modelling or even animation. There are poets too who are big stars on TikTok. 

TikTok content creators, unlike other social media platforms, jump from creating to riff on a song; to talk idly and aimlessly about whatever is in front of them. The platform encourages creators to jump from challenges to challenges and trends to trends, creating an enormous pool of varied content. From a married woman hailing from a rural village in India, dubbing dialogues in English and Hindi to a star influencer dancing on a hit song, TikTok is a place of modern art. Performance art crosses boundaries of absurd, yet it is still considered art because it is a reflection of the artist’s thoughts. TikTok encourages the same. 

The more labor-intensive TikToks are the ones with fine arts, including paintings, drawings, collages and more. This passion extends further to minute-long cookie decorating tutorials and even multi-tiered cake recipes. 

Some of the best TikToks are by freestyle rappers, with many of them taking suggestions from their fanbase and comments about how to produce their next TikTok, much like a paid musician would. Every new TikTok stands as an art piece in itself, whether it’s a feat of videography, music, dance or comedy.

What if TikTok is a ready-made performance art platform that has not been leveraged by any brand or category? 

TikTok is a platform thriving on user generated art. From embarrassing personal stories to elaborately planned sketches bordering on short film statuses (which can give Netflix stand up specials a run for their money), TikTok has laid out the map for the new, modern performance art.

During the periods of emergence of performance art and after it was well established, many art acts seemed weird and absurd. The weird and absurd art was actually the raw representation of the artists’ thoughts and work. A prime example: Joseph Beuys for his performance – I like America and America Likes Me (1974) spent three days both healing and being healed by his temporary roommate: a wild coyote. Tiktok too has been tagged weird, absurd and sometimes, crazy.

The fact is that this crazy is the stockpile of creative content and art. We have only been looking at social media as a place of likes and followers and scrolling the feed up and down. Tiktok has 500 million users and viewers who are creating content every minute. It is a volcano of art waiting to erupt. 

Tiktok has not been seen as a landmine of art, when it actually is. We all have been accustomed to social media platforms being acutely perfect that the honest, authentic tactics of men and women cringe us. Performance art, just like Tiktok, in many ways, strives to bring out this. As it includes the artist himself or herself being the art, the honest, authentic idiosyncrasies of humans come out. 

For brands who always are looking to churn out user generated content, TikTok, is, itself user generated creative content. Instead of creating challenges, specifically for a campaign, it is time for brands to let the existing content be a campaign. 

In times like these when production houses are shut, professional creators are tied because of limited resources, tiktok users offer a post-produced, creatively curated content. The proliferation of performance art platforms like Kommune and Bombay Lokal, UnErase Poetry has made us look at performance art with a finely curate, limited lens of an open mic or stand up. When the actual meaning of performance art is the artist’s expression of art – then TikTok becomes synonymous to it.

Customers are drawn towards a brand that honestly portrays itself. Loyalty and preference are increased towards a brand when it is perceived to be authentic. If authenticity is what a consumer looks for in a brand, then isn’t the TikTok the right place for building it? The varied, diverse, availability of authentic art on TikTok makes it an untapped opportunity for brands to explore its full potential.

Some examples of TikTok creative videos are:

Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?? #perspective #magic

♬ Glass Half Full Zach King – zachking
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Live-streaming Life in the era of Social Distancing

LIFE UP-STREAMING: Live streaming in the age of social distancing, and its implications on business owners and marketers. 

Live streaming is a real-life event – whether it is a training session, a panel discussion, an interview, a product launch, or a party. Here, viewers become participants of the show while staying in their own location and they can communicate (through Q&A, polling) with the host in real-time. 

Live Streaming during COVID19

 You can watch live video streaming everywhere – on any location and on any device. Including one’s home, where most of us are contained. Especially now. 

 Live streaming during the COVID-19 lockdown enables people to engage themselves in experiences while adhering to the constraints of our new reality. It’s an opportunity for people, the social creatures, to connect with others and an opportunity for brands that are out of sight, to find new sources of relevance during social distancing. 

 There is a restrictive physical intervention due to which people are finding out ways to keep themselves busy, and most importantly, connected. And to feel connected, they facetime / WhatsApp video calls with their friends and family, and even host zoom parties with colleagues to keep themselves engaged.

 In their pursuit for connection and engagement through digital platforms, live streaming will become a part of the new normal for content consumption. Even in India. 

 Here’s why live streaming will create a space of its own. 

  • Live stream video is a real-time show, and hence, people don’t know what will happen in the next second. 
  • Live stream videos cannot be binge-watched, and hence, it creates the thrill of scarcity. 
  • Live stream videos can be hosted by anyone, including your favourite player/ musician/ mentor-figure from one’s personal interest areas. 
  • Live stream videos contain on-going human interactions and can make one feel like a part of an (online) community. 

Live streaming makes people feel like they are with the crowd, even when today there lies none during the age of social distancing. 

 While there are live experience streaming apps, like Lemonade, their paid programs haven’t become mainstream in India yet. The adoption of paid experience streaming apps may become more prevalent amongst young, metro audiences. However, it’s the adoption of live streaming across popular content search platforms, like YouTube, and social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, that will witness on-boarding of even the older generation. 

 At WolfzHowl, we have attempted to understand this emerging trend in people’s lifestyles and have delved deeper to decode what it means for creators, business-owners and marketers in terms of opportunity and treat. 

The aspects of life and lifestyle that have adopted live streaming are 

  • Nightlife/ partying 
  • Movies & creative content 
  • Shopping 
  • Cultural entertainment 
  • Religion
  • Sports & games 
  • Skilling & education

Delving into the trends in each aspect of lifestyle mentioned above, and their implications:

Nightlife/ partying:
Nightlife culture has emerged a strong trend among millennials and GenZ, but has witnessed a major hit due to COVID since lockdown. As the demand remains constant, brands and clubs will be looking to reach an audience in different ways.

For example, after Singapore ordered the closure of many entertainment venues last week following a steady rise in infections, popular nightclub “Zouk” threw a “cloud-clubbing” party, streaming live performances by six DJs via an app. Live comments from clubbers were scrolling past on the DJ’s laptop, and song requests from them guided the music and the mood in a certain direction. In return, clubbers sent virtual gifts to the DJs such as bells and snowflakes that can later be exchanged for cash. The turnout, there were 200,000 total views for the three-hour event and at its peak, 5,600 people were watching via the app.

 With the increased lockdown and a predicted second wave post monsoon, DJs and night club brands on a quest to preserve their popularity will host more virtual parties. This is going to change the way people perceive and participate in what’s fun. The tools of video streaming are also likely to evolve to include elements like new filters, virtual gifts, chat and comments options. Bumble dating app sees usage spike. Amid lockdown Bumble app has come with an additional feature of video call and voice call to combat isolation and engage in virtual connection. Dating apps such as hinge and tinder are also seeing rise in new users. Hinge also came up with a virtual video date. There might be more development in the features of these dating apps in the near future.

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • Taboo categories, like alcohol and cigarettes, that are currently mass-media dark, will have opportunity for promotion.
  • Experiential lifestyle categories, like Hard Rock Café / Social, can ‘productize the experience’ instead of only delivering food. As gigs and parties start in-home, in a private immunized environment, brands can curate these experiences.
  • There’s an opportunity to create interest-based communities, and brands can hyper-target consumers based on the niche insight on consumer’s interest.
  • Better audio gadgets will surge in demand in case of prolonged at-home entertainment, like Bose, Marshall.
  • Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble can sponsor these events to enable people to connect with each other virtually, while being socially responsible.

Movies and other creative content for entertainment:
Netflix did understand human psychology and how to sustain in the market. It realized that human interaction attracts consumers more. Hence, they came up with a Netflix party which is a free chrome extension that lets people spend time together without physically being together. The extension sets up a chat room where your friends and family can watch the movie together. For example, if three people are watching a movie on Netflix party and one person wants to resume the movie it will automatically appear on another person’s screen. If they want to conversate, there is a chatbox besides the movie screen. It includes human interaction.

Spotify also found the need to implement something that will create engagement. It is a music app where the additional feature is you can collaborate with friends and listen to music together. 

Brands have the higher percentage in terms of contributing in setting the kind of a lifestyle in the consumer’s mind. For instance: Brands market their products in a way that tells the consumer that this is the kind of lifestyle that you should have. If you don’t have it then you aren’t happy. Now that certain brands are struggling to cope up with what they used to market.

 Due to lockdown, it has now become a hurdle to reach the desired audience. Due to the sudden change in the mindset of the consumers due to lockdown. Brands should be able to re-market in a way that fits in the change in mind.

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • Streaming platforms can package bundles that can be leveraged to create distinct positioning amongst brands. Such bundling can be genre based or belong to a particular “cult”, say Hitchcock classics,   James Bond Series or even Mithun Dance movies. Higher viewer retention and even new subscriber addition over a sustained period may be possible through such a tool. Matterdan, in Bombay, used to run such shows. 
  • Genre based bundling can help brands use the platform as a medium to reach out to a highly targeted customer base (say basis mindset, age..). For instance, Jawa can use this for promotions to a certain “era” of customers as a gifting option to their children. 
  • Interviews keep celebrities (who are brands themselves) stay connected to their fanbase and even that is fodder as space to the brands they endorse, even for product placements. 

People are becoming much more confident about online shopping. Pandemic gave the world an urgent reason to shop from home, retail influencers were live streaming inside of boutiques, offering product closeups, and even trying on clothes, shoes, and jewelry for an online audience. In 2017, live streaming marketplace ShopShops sold a viewer a second-hand Birkin bag for $14,500 — no returns accepted.

For many goods and services, online shopping is now the only kind of shopping that exists, and that could last well into next year — or until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. Consumers are being pushed beyond their comfortable analog habits and toward video communications. Just look at the speed at which millions have adopted Zoom, BlueJeans and other platforms to work with colleagues and talk with friend.

For fashion retail, live streaming commerce models which enable retailers to showcase and present their products on a larger commerce destination could be viable now.

It’s no surprise then that since Covid-19’s assault on China, Alibaba’s taobao live streaming has surged. The number of merchants using it for the first time grew by 719% from January to February. Consumers are shopping for real estate and cars on the platform.  Shanghai Fashion week in late March was fully livestreamed on it: Viewers could pre-order the clothes the models were wearing on the catwalk, as well as buy pieces from the designers’ existing collections. Even farmers have been using the channel to sell mangoes and other crops. The company was hoping to bring hundreds of thousands more retailers into live streaming; now that seems inevitable. 

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • The absence and likely drop in in-store shopping would remove the social aspect of shopping (say in a mall or even on a fashion street). The tacit “social feedback” at the point of purchase would go amiss. An opportunity arises to create more engagement at the time of shopping, especially by fashion retailers in online platforms. For instance, linking virtual try-on on platforms such as Myntra or Lenskart would get an instant social feedback collection tool and create further prospecting. 
  • Digitally broadcasting one’s shopping cart could be another engagement tool that social influencers can use even when physical purchase experiences reduce to a large extent

Cultural entertainment
Many cultural groups in the city have consistently streamed their concerts and events live on YouTube and Facebook, witnessing impressive view count on the platforms.

 Traditional concerts / sabhas who were afraid of extinction are back in demand since they have started live streaming. The major reason for their popularity is the reach they have received through live streaming.

Live streaming provided artist and cultural groups popularity, therefore increasing the scope of events and concerts.

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • Viability of cultural events for niche, older groups was proving to be unviable due to
    • Reducing and scattered listener base
    • Low connectedness, network strength of older interest groups
  • Streaming of events, as well as high acceptability of the content, delivered digitally makes these niche groups (e.g. Hindustani music lovers, Illayaraja fan groups, or even Qawwali aficionados) alive again. 
  • Such level of networking and digital marketing opportunities therein used to be limited to large, younger groups (e.g. EDM, Hip hop followers, Beliebers, etc.)

Religious groups are now embracing the technology in this lockdown. 

Muslim clerics are mulling a unique way to let people offer prayers and perform other rituals this Ramzan without going out for gathering. The clerics have already urged people not to go to mosques to offer Friday prayers and to obey the guidelines of social distancing. With the holy month of Ramzan around the corner, Muslims are worried about performing Taraweeh, the additional prayers during the month right after the evening Isha Namaz.

Clerics are of the opinion that a live streaming of Taraweeh on various social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter can be introduced along with some guidelines on how to perform it at home.

In Kerala, live streaming of Easter services happened amid lockdown. Good Friday prayers go online in Tamil Nadu. The bible app for kids is available for both Android and IOS.

As people worship from home, the acceptance for the tech and virtual community among the older generation has increased. Spiritual startups are using technology as a tool to complete pooja and rites.

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • Given social distancing would be prevalent, crowds at religious centers would get lesser crowds. The typical religious household would be conscious and increase worship time at home to compensate for the fact that visiting their regular religious site would not be possible. This is likely to increase demand for worship items used at home(Agarbattis, candles, etc.) and decorative items as the family’s religious corner get a facelift. 
  • Another outcome of religious sites getting lower footfalls would be increased in online or virtual religious tourism which is in its nascency. Say, for a fee a pandit in Puri will do the Puja for you while you’re connected and present digitally. 

Sports and Games:
Indians top the list of most number of downloads in gaming apps. For example, Ludo, Pubg, Plato. Psych has emerged as a favorite game during the lockdown. It has so far been the most popular gaming app in this lockdown.

 Houseparty is an app that lets you connect face to face. There has been an increase in demand for this app because it contains not only video chat but also you can play games while video calling.

Facebook is introducing an app for gaming. It is designed for creating and watching live gameplay. A function app GO LIVE lets users upload streams of other mobile games on the same device by pressing just a few buttons. Those streams can be shared to someone’s personal Facebook page, which becomes feasible for the streamers. Global games business is booming. These are now the new targeting platforms.

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • Since no fresh content (live matches) are likely for a while channels and websites have resorted to unique methods of keeping their user base engaged. Apart from the regular statistical analysis, opinions, dream teams etc. New engagement tools such as “retro-live” by Cricinfo are being introduced successfully to keep engagement intact (classic case of old wine in new bottle). More such tools are likely to be explored which can also serve as avenues for older brands to promote themselves. 
  • Quizzing – Both app and VC based are becoming popular among quizzing aficionados and are likely to attract more active user bases if social distancing remains the norm. User engagement is an integral aspect of quizzing and given the success of shows like KBC in India, such apps/content is likely to become more board based going forward. 
  • Gaming apps are significant gainers due to the lockdown and multiuser online versions of traditional games such as Ludo are becoming more popular due to the mass user base. Ludo King has recently already launched a video featuring Mika Singh for promoting itself. 

Skills & Education
There has been a sudden rise in enrollment of online courses. People all over the world are participating in the courses of their interest. Everyone’s investing in themselves by learning activities like Fitness classes to online cookery courses.

 Also, one of the reasons for taking up online classes is the guilt of not being productive. Hence, People are trying to be productive as much as they can by taking online classes.

 Due to economic uncertainties, people are afraid of losing their jobs due to which they are participating in online courses to be able to sustain in the commercial world.

 It used to be difficult for everyone to manage their professional life and personal life due to which they barely could give out time for themselves. Online classes during the lockdown helps to eliminate these obstacles. Accessibility and convenience is one of the reasons for taking up online classes.

 Discipline is always been taught to children by their parents. Parents have to come up with a structured environment to be able to implement children’s daily routine which earlier used to be in a lockdown. Especially for working parents who have to also manage household chores.  Online courses are a lifesaver and a help to the parents.

Apart from that it also helps them to spend time with the family by taking online courses like Yoga, dance choreography etc.

There are many online courses like Udemy, Coursera, IIDE that are helping students and professionals help upskill themselves, in a very productive way to pass time. Havard University and google are offering courses for free. IIDE is conducting free webinar courses which helps people decide whether they should further invest in a course.

Implications for marketers and business owners:

  • Education apps such as Byju’s, UnAcademy would move from being good to haves to must-haves and perhaps would collaborate with their offline counterparts such as FIITJEE/Career Launcher/Bansal’s who would want an online channel with reach. The above is true for basic education to school children to professionals looking for upskilling. 
    • Given the expected uncertainties around employability in certain sectors (e.g. hospitality, airlines), a large pool of prospective users might be acquired who want to broaden their skillets to remain employable. 
    • Delivering vocational training and certification online can be a massive addressable opportunity for fast movers. Economic distress, reverse migration and subsequent drop in wage levels which is likely to stay much beyond the lockdown would almost “force” people across age groups and economic strata to take up vocational training and be a part of the gig economy. 

In summation, two common threads bind the themes above and almost serve as underlying hypotheses.

  1. The need to stay connected, more actively now than ever before, and in all activities of life, would lead to consumers or influencers converging in new digital ‘hotspots’. 
  2. Digital spaces, from being new modes of experiencing the old, have the potential to morph into even more novel experience altogether. 

Live streaming has always been existing and has been especially used by influencers in gaming. It’s just that people have started paying attention to the already existing live streaming due to lockdown. Not only will all the runways, fashion week, and launches be live-streamed, but they will be actively attempting to stimulate a sense of community through it. And hence, it will be an essential tool to create long term relationships and brand loyalty during the era of COVID-19. 

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Performance Marketing 2.0

Brands have been waiting for the lockdown to end to start pumping money back into creating conversations and building engagement. They’re saving up the annual budgets for later, hoping that market gets back to normal & consumers start purchasing in order to justify ROI. With a lot of stock stuck in the pipeline, there’s going to be an almost frantic rush of brands trying to grab the consumer’s attention and push him/her into buying. And most marketers will turn to digital marketing to get quick returns. Yes, that’s where performance marketing comes into the picture. However, it’s not the old way of running automated campaigns and bidding on the keyword that’s going to be enough. There’s going to be a demand for Performance Marketing 2.0 – Strategic, human behavior centers performance marketing and not just data and platform led. 

Here are our predictions on the future of performance marketing post Covid-19:

  1. More integrated sales funnel – Most brands have multiple systems that run in silos – the CRM tool, social listening tool, retail store sales data, eCommerce sales data but there are very few companies that have integrated these. As life returns to normal, tool integration will remain in focus. Brands would want to measure the efficacy of their spends as accurately as possible by integrating them with metrics like Brand Preference Scores. Vanity KPI metrics will go away for better and more accurate tracking. However, for this, a lot of brands will need to invest in technology that allows them to do this. For the brands that are growing, it may be an easy call but for the brands who are pinching their pockets, this may still be far away. 
  2. Increased spends on digital – As media becomes expensive, tracking becomes imperative, and hence more marketers turn to digital. Digital advertising is going to see a boom in India post Covid-19 lockdown ends and India limps back to normalcy.  This is because the content formats allow for quicker turn-around of the advertisements with accuracy in measurement.
  3. Increased investment in programmatic buying – Programmatic advertising was gaining popularity before Covid-19 struck. Our prediction is that it will pick pace if vendors decide to lower the guaranteed spends required.  However, what remains a challenge with programmatic is the need for understanding data. Unless brands hire resources, who can understand and analyze data, programmatic will remain under-utilized. 
  4. Newer ways of calculating ROI – CPC, CPV, and CPM are redundant measures for calculating ROI. CAC scores were popular only for eCommerce sites. Marketers and brands will now start measuring ROI in terms of actual sales, repeat purchases, duration of conversion and how quickly did people move through the different levels of the conversion funnel. 
  5. Agencies working on a “Conversion Guarantee fee or free” model – With such stiff competition in the market, a lot of agencies will start offering promises of guaranteed results and work with revenue sharing models. A lot of start-ups were anyway using ‘skin in the game’ to get their agencies to work for them and get paid for delivering results. This will now percolate even to the bigger companies, which will increase pressure on the performance marketing agencies and growth hackers to deliver results.

However, if everyone aims to pump in monies towards the end of Q1, there’s bound to be advertising clutter. How do you break this clutter? How do you ensure maximum impact and higher ROI? Let’s take a look at what we think digital marketers should focus on.

  1. Targeting: Targeting has always been about demographics + in-market segmentations at best. But now, marketers will need to segment their audiences with more than just age, gender, location & interests. But this is not the most foolproof method since all your competitors would be doing the same thing. Here’s how we recommend you segment your audience base:
    1. Start by segmenting your audience based on usage and attitudes towards your category. Understand the innate reasons for these attitudinal patterns
    2. Add a layer of demographics on top of these segments
    3. Create personas by identifying barriers for conversion for each of the segments
      Why do we think this is needed? When the same set of audiences is seeing the ad for your brand, your competitor’s brand, and 10 different categories, you need to get the best returns on your investment and that is possible only by identifying the most profitable segment for targeting. Remember, what’s huge in quantity may not be the most profitable. You may spend more on targeting a niche segment but if the conversion for the cohort is higher, it’s money well-spent. 
  2. Content: This becomes one of the most important elements for running your ad and has multiple elements that you, as a marketer will need to consider. 
    1. Messaging: In the post-COVID-19 world, when all of us would have faced content fatigue, messaging will become of utmost importance while serving an ad. Unfortunately, the most over-looked part of the performance marketing strategy is messaging. Due to the character restrictions and the sheer number of pieces that the copywriter has to write and the designer needs to creates (sizes, formats etc.), messaging always gets the stepchild treatment. However, there’s a far more deep-seated reason why the messaging is always cliched and not very impactful – not knowing the audience. Until we’ve identified everything about the cohort & understood their barriers, only then can we identify the trigger for conversion. If as marketers, we are not able to work on the messaging of the ad copy, the conversion rate will remain poor, no matter how many segments and personas we create. Remember, each segment, each persona, each sub-persona will require a separate message. Do not shy away from the painstaking process of creating multiple copies & creatives and running test campaigns to get better results
    2. Content Types: Yes, digital marketers and platforms have been pushing us to keep trying newer forms of content and encourage us to create dynamic content. Yes, Content is King but the content type is what gets you the attention. Be present in as many content types as possible. Create videos, audios, static images, GIFs. Use Facebook canvas and carousels. All forms of dynamic content give you more space to tell your story but remember, if your story is not strong, no content type can save you. 
    3. Do not ignore SEO. While the paid game has to be strong initially, organic growth is what brands should be aiming for. Think SEO with a filter of performance. Write your content based on what your end consumer will look for. Look beyond category keywords and think like a human being searching for your category for through various stages of the conversion funnel and write content accordingly. 
    4. Go Local: Regional Language advertising is the best bet for quicker conversion. Invest in building a team of copywriters who can write effectively in local languages. Do not get English copies translated. Translations do not work. What we’d suggest all brands get into DCO (Dynamic Creative Optimization). Invest in tools that will help you churn this out faster. 
  3. Media Platforms – Marketers are genuinely spoilt for choice when it comes to media vehicles to choose from. There are OTT platforms, social media apps, gaming apps, emailers, audience networks, independent blogs and websites, eCommerce stores… The list is endless. How do you choose the right platforms to advertise on? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing the media mix:Are you blanket bombing on all platforms where your audience is present and hoping that they will see it and click on it? Is this the best solution always? Don’t diss this, at times it works
    1. Are you present on a platform that is not related to your category directly but if the communication is crafted well, the platform can work for you?
    2. Is the platform seemingly expensive but has a better quality of audience that has a higher chance of conversion?
    3. Which platform will be the anchor platform for which part of the marketing funnel?
    4. What is the platform journey? How can you use the platform to work for you instead of you working on the platform?
  4. Marketing Funnel – The funnel of conversion will change post-COVID-19. How? Well, wait for a separate blog on this to find out.  

What can brands, who do not want to invest or have not yet invested in Martech and who do not have data analysts on-board do in such times?

  1. Do an in-depth & continuous competition analysis. Competition is already spending a lot of money on identifying what’s working and what’s not. Use their intelligence to serve yourself better. However, also identify space for yourself and your brand. Mimicking is the worst possible thing you’ll do in all this content clutter
  2. Go beyond the obvious. As a strategy consultancy, we’ve learned that the answers lie with the consumers itself. Deploy quick and innovative solutions like marrying social listening with category semiotics to arrive at search insights and content strategy.
  3. Find a partner to help you collate ALL your data and make sense out of it. It may sound expensive but it actually ends up saving costs for you in the long run. Most of the insights are sitting in your resource library, waiting to be opened up and read in conjunction with other reports. Get partners, who are experts are reading human behavior, to go through the data and provide instigations
  4. Collaboration. Bring your creative team, media team, marketing team, and sales team on the same table. Having facilitated quite a few of these collaborations, we have seen some amazing results being delivered when everyone is involved and there’s a sense of ownership towards the same goal. 
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Retail Wars: Part Deux – David’s move

Like we discussed in our previous post, small retail companies currently have an advantage in terms of distribution and sales. Their swiftness has trumped the slow-moving giants. These companies are aggressively eating into the share of Big Retailer Cos. The Big Cos are back devising a strategy to regain the consumers they have cultivated over the years. Soon, the wave might turn against the smaller players as they lose their grip from the consumers’ minds and wallets.

What can the Small Retail Players do in order to maintain their position and permanently arrest the shift away from Big brands? The critical strategic play here is ‘Memory Embedding’. Here are some Strategic Instigations by Wolfzhowl about how smaller brands can create bigger memory structures in the consumers’ minds. Check out Wolfzhowl’s deck on Brands and Memory Structures

1) Be thankful – Gratitude goes a long way. Thank your Customers for trusting your brand in these tough times. Incentivise them, giving a smile or a sweet memory works too.

2) Don’t forget to leave a mark – Big players have the digital prowess and footprint that a small player might not have. Make sure the brand leaves behind a token visual mnemonic at every possible interaction with the customer.

3) Reaffirm Product Quality – Smaller brands often face the consumer perception issue cheaper price = low quality’. Therefore, they need to explicitly highlight high-quality control measures and establish that their product is at par, if not better, than the products offered by bigger brands.

4) Seize the opportunity for Product Innovation – With steady revenue coming in and big cos still left handicapped due to the lockdown, smaller brands have the opportunity to turn their focus on creating, hyper-local, consumer-centric, tactical product innovations. With some extra effort, this move can set your brand apart from other products and hence accelerate adaptability and memorability.

5) Increase basket-size with product bundling – Make hay while the sun shines. The more space the brand occupies in the consumer’s mind, the longer it remains in the consumer’s memory structure. Once your brand has entered the Customer’s wallet, make the most of it. If the brand has any other complementing products, bundle them with your fastest selling products via offers.

6) Create product consumer rituals – Effective long-term memory for brands can be created by associating the product with an action or a ritual. Invent a product consumption ritual via packaging, advertising or by gamification of product and its consumption. Eg. KitKat, Kinder Joy, Oreo etc. Create a unique, tangible mini-experience around your brand & product.

7) Unite to Fight – Evaluate Cross-category tie-ups with small manufacturers of other products to get into households with combined weight to tackle the post Covid19 onslaught of the big guns.

8) Underdog Advertising – Admitting that you are smaller player can feel like shooting yourself in the foot. But it’s a counterintuitive way to reach the consumer’s heart and be remembered for good. Smaller Cos are faster, cheaper and equally effective in the times of need. And just because they don’t have the strength of the big players, they work doubly hard to provide the best they can. This is an endearing way to embed your brand in your consumer’s mind and win some well-deserved brownie points.
Brilliant case of effective Underdog Advertising – Avis

9) Discount the Product, Not the Brand. Build one afresh – Brands that have been built in adversity have stood the test of time. Now is the best time for a smaller brand to lay the foundations and build a strong purpose from the ground up. A classic example of this is Dove.