Inside the ‘Content Studio Plus’ lab launched by Culture Machine and Mindshare

An inside look at 'Content Studio Plus' and how Culture Machine and Mindshare are working together on this alliance, to bring the best of technology and creativity to brands

2016 has been the emergence of video in full throttle. From brand campaigns to agencies building in-house capability for videos, to publishers, all are jumping onto the bandwagon. Not only India but globally too, videos have been the growing trend.

According to annual report on the media and entertainment (M&E) industry by market research and audit firm KPMG and lobby group Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) consumption of online video content is up from 49 to 66 percent over the last year.

Consumption is growing but is creation matching up the demand?

The bitter truth is that in today’s information loaded times; content creation is not just the only challenge, discovery is another one. On an average, well-executed and produced video stories hardly get noticed, forget about going viral organically. This has been a big concern for brands that invest immensely on videos.

But can intelligence or data solve the creative man’s problem? For instance: an intelligence tool that tells me what kind of video should I create based on the user consumption data.

I am not high or drunk. But if someone is high then it is Culture Machine – a digital media company that creates entertainment for the Internet generation, and is trying to solve the industry problem. The company, which recently crossed 500-million viewership mark on YouTube and 140 million monthly views on Facebook, has developed a patent pending proprietary tool that not only gives insights of video content but also provides a secret recipe for creating viral videos.

Intelligence machine & Video machine

Earlier last week Culture Machine organized a demo for Lighthouse Insights at their uber cool office in Mumbai. Sitting in the lounge at the center of the office, I was offered a cup of coffee from the cafeteria situated right beside. It looked like a restaurant serving from the heart of a commercial place. Some office goals from Culture Machine!

Dressed in a formal shirt, jeans, and with rimless spectacles, Anshuman Sinha (Senior Product Manager) holding his silver MacBook, walked into the open conference room. The huge conference room was covered with glass walls from all sides, giving the sun ample opportunity to soak us in its heat.

Anshuman Sinha, Senior Product Manager, Culture Machine is one of the brain behind how the mcn is integrating tech with creativity. One of the things the team is working on is building video recepie that not only creates programmatic video but also tells what kind of videos a brand needs to create. He definitely is driving intelligence at the company. We had quite few things in common - he is an ex employee of #Oracle and also owns a #Honor7 #culturemachine #videomarketing #videointelligenti #digitalmarketing #digitalmedia

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Anshuman briefed me: the tech team working from Pune is going to roll out a new version of the product. The latest version will come with a new feature that will inform brands on how to create viral videos. The feature is called Content Recipe. But before we get into that I was excited to know what is the content studio and how is it helping brands.

Today when everyone is a storyteller and storytelling is the most misused word, ‘Content Studio’ is a phrase that every one wants to own. So I was curious to know the story weaved at Culture Machine.

I am told that the digital media company has been working on its intelligence product to help brands understand their content better with data. The company has built a content studio that has two important features – 1. Intelligence Machine, and 2. Video Machine. There’s also a separate analytics team for Intelligence Machine and Video Machine providing customized reports to their clients at regular intervals.

Pulling the product demo on to the big-screen, Anshuman showed the Intelligence Machine – a dashboard that tracks a brand’s Facebook, YouTube page and data of competing brands.

“It is a complete dashboard of insights for a particular brand on how its content is performing on various platforms, regions, etc. You can also get insights on how your brand is performing on a particular category alongside of your competitors.”

The product also tells you about how much share you have in the earned and owned media space. One of the biggest USP of the Intelligence Machine lies in the feature called Top Content Format. Revealing more about the feature, I was told that the feature tells what content format is working for a particular brand on a given time period or over a lifetime.

“Based on the data we can drive insights on what are the top performing content formats and sub formats based on the media spends. This also gives a brand a fairly good idea on what content is performing and what content it should limit in creating or re-look at,” he shared.

Along with competitive analysis and brand insights, the product also provides influencer management. For instance, a particular format is doing good for a brand but the brand is not too sure in creating the content. In that case the brand can approach a specific content creator or influencer who is quite popular with the particular type of content. The brand may then want to work with the creator and do a native/sponsored content on the channel.

Another interesting feature is the Video Machine, which creates videos on the go according to one’s requirements. These videos are not just images and video but complete clips that allow the brand to have quality and quick videos as required. Video Machine is your answer to the growing trend of Programmatic Videos.

For instance, during the upcoming IPL, a particular team will have its own brand film but on a regular basis to keep the momentum going on digital the brand will need a number of quick videos. Every time it won’t be possible to create a creative film, for such times Video Machine, which has huge templates fed, will produce interesting quick videos.

The new version of the content studio that Culture Machine is going to launch soon will have a new feature – Content Recipe.

“Based on four pillars such as trends, content formats, emotion and the audience interest, the feature provides data to a brand on what kind of content it should create to get the attention of its audience.”

Going forward the product is going to be enhanced to be able to predict  how many views a particular content will generate. However, “it is going to be challenging job,” Anshuman admitted with a smile.

Content Studio at Mindshare

Culture Machine’s tech product has caught the attention of one of its long time working agencies Mindshare, also one of the largest full-service media agencies in India and part of Group M.

Recently both of them decided to enter into a tie-up to launch Content Lab as part of its Content+ (Content Plus) division.

According to the company release, the new entity will see teams from both companies working together to co-create unique and differentiated content for new media. This will include branded as well as unbranded content that is advertiser-led.

Under this tie-up, Mindshare’s clients will have access to Culture Machine’s tools, which help identify a content strategy for brands that will resonate with their target audience. It is a win-win situation for brands when they have gone hyper with video content and programmatic is the only hope.

However, I was intrigued by the comment of Prasanth Kumar, chief executive officer of Mindshare South Asia. He said that the new division would help MindShare’s existing division. “We are delighted with our tie-up with Culture Machine. Their combination of technology plus content is a great step towards engineering our vision on ‘Content+’, a division of Mindshare India that helps brands with great storytelling, penetrating consumer timelines and conversations.”

The obvious question was if Mindshare already had a content lab then why get into alliances for the same with Culture Machine. With this set of questions, I arrived for a very early morning meeting with Devendra Deshpande at the Mumbai Mindshare office.

Devendra Deshpande can very well become a model or be a teacher. Model for his height and lean look. But I would like if he was a teacher, just for the way he explains things in a very calm and composed manner. No bs but simple fundas coupled with example. By the way for now he is managing the Content Lab at Mindshare for all clients.”The bigger vision of Content Plus is creating content for both online and offline to solve brand problems with consumer insights.” And the smiling lady is Ekta Sidhwa, the PR person who made the interaction possible. #contentstudio #contentlab #mindshare #digitalmedia #digitalagency #digitalmarketing #contentmarketing

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With over a decade in Mindshare, Devendra is now leading Content Plus, a central vertical across all clients. “The objective right now is to help create engagement with our brands and make them more relevant for the consumers by making them a part of the popular culture.”

To make it simpler, the soft-spoken tall and lean gentleman, gave a recent example for United Spirits Limited. “We released a Marathi feature film for one of our brand Bagpiper and now it has become a sustaining model. Bagpiper is all about catalyst of change and their consumers are in smaller towns. Since movies play a big role in the consumer’s life, we made a feature film called Guru. The USP of this initiative was that the movie was based on the brand philosophy but without brand mention or product placement.”

“The bigger vision of Content Plus is creating content for both online and offline to solve brand problems with consumer insights.”

Content Studio Plus - Mindshare & Culture Machine tie-up

The above example had a major offline leg but Mindshare also has clients that are looking to create content for the digital medium. Culture Machine fits right here, as Mindshare’s partner for the online world.

“Content lab is nothing but a framework or you may see it as a way of working which starts from consumer insights, ends with measurement and in between you have the concept, partners, execution and distribution. It is a six layered process with re-iterating kept on.”

The tie-up allows Culture Machine to be the creator of the content for all the Mindshare brands. Mindshare will be driving the overall strategy with its understanding of brand problems as well as consumer insights.

Adding emphasis on the robust tie-up, Devendra shared two very interesting successful campaigns. Dove as a brand stands for real women, real beauty. However the paradigm of real beauty in the society has changed and the outlook is gradually changing. Dove has been one of the brands that saw the change and thereafter featured real women and not models. But how do you have the same tonality in today’s times was the challenge.

Mindshare collaborated with Culture Machine for Dove and came up with a 3-minute video titled #ChangeTheRhyme. The video launched on the YouTube channel Blush has fetched more than 6 million views on YouTube. (Read: How Blush is emerging as the YouTube channel for today’s women one video at a time)

Sharing the backend story, Devendra recollected about Culture Machine’s Intelligence Machine pulling up insights when people look for real beauty. These insights were – what people were looking for, what was getting accepted and what was getting rejected. “One of the insights during that time was the ongoing Olympics at Rio, a very hot topic of discussion and consumption. And thus the concept of #ChangeTheRhyme was born which challenged beauty stereotypes in the society.”

The other success story was the collaboration for the lubricants brand Castrol. “Lubricants is a boring brand, the challenge was how do we get today’s audience engaged with the brand philosophy. We told a story about an independent girl with the backdrop of the festival Rakshabandhan. Castrol was there but it was an accessory rather than being a brand in the story,” he revealed.

For Culture Machine this young partnership with MindShare matters. “We have been working with them across all brands and pitches. It is a very young partnership, which we hope to grow and scale not just in India but across the globe too,” added Sameer Pitalwalla, CEO at Culture Machine.

Sameer Pitalwall - Ex Disney India, Times Internet and now the #ceo at #culturemachine His aim is to make Culture Macine the Viacom of this digital era. #mcn #creative #digitalmedia #digitalmarketing #contentmarketing #videomarketing #businessman #entrepreneurship #entrepreneur

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Content has re-emerged, thanks to videos. Not just creativity, in this digital age, technology is also playing a vital role. We can no more deny the fact that creativity has to go along with technology. Content Studio Plus is a live example of how it is being done, and in the near future more brands and agencies are set to follow suit.