Digital is the way forward for Zee

28 Mar,2012

By Rishi Vora


The future is definitely Digital, and Zee Group has its sights set firmly on it. In addition to its recent launch of Ditto TV, the broadcast major has been fairly active in the digital space to promote properties such as Dance India Dance 3 (DID) and Punar Vivah.


The channel has also taken a new and different step to enhance consumer interaction. It has introduced ‘free voting’ for contestants (where the viewer is asked to give a ‘missed call’ to his favourite contestant) as against the industry norm of pay-per-message.


To further intensify its focus on Digital, Zee has now unveiled a WAP site and a mobile application that connect with DID fans on the go.


The WAP site has interactive features which enable fans to interact with the contestants and judges and allows them to vote by a click of a button apart from a few other interactive features.


MxM India spoke to Marketing Head Akash Chawla about these and other digital initiatives.


Q: This whole focus on Digital… is this something that will take Zee a step ahead of competition?

That is what we expect to do. We hope to be ahead of the competition with regard to this particular thing. From our perspective we’re not looking at how competition is doing on this front, because our entire objective is to be very close to the consumer. There are times when we do it by being on the ground and there are times when we do it by actually going to their homes. In the age of interactivity it is apt that we use digital media to the best. And that is exactly what we’re looking to do.


Q: Does this take away anything from the way you use traditional media?

The one mantra which we’re going after is driving conversations with the customers. So, even when we’re using the traditional media – a print ad for example – the attempt is to make it more interactive. Any my belief is that you can also use traditional media to drive a lot of audience on your social network.

I’m not saying that traditional media is something we won’t do, but our attempt will be to drive more conversations through our communication.


Q: You’ve been fairly active on social media and that seems to be a big thrust going forward as well. But there is a saying that social media is a double-edge sword and that it could well turn out to be harmful to a brand like yours.

It is too soon to say that. In the case of iconic brands or sectors such as automobiles you can see a sizeable community. In the GEC space we’re just beginning to do that. So our first objective is to build a sizeable community. Once you get a sizeable community then how to use that is the second objective. Traditional media will irrespectively be required as social media in India is growing.


Q: This missed-call concept which you’ve introduced for DID is something very different altogether. How did you come up with a concept like that?

At Zee, we’ve been doing talent hunts such as Sa Re Ga Ma and DID. When we started this interactivity thing in 2005 with Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge, we used to get a lot of votes. If we sit down and draw a trend, votes have actually gone down over a period of five to seven years. Most of the formats today are interactive in terms of asking for votes. Second, the credibility aspect. Consumers have come up to us and said that it is just a revenue making mechanism because the SMSes are charged higher than the normal SMSes. Frankly, as a broadcaster, for us, at this particular time, it is more about building the brand salience than the small amount of revenue that’ gets generated through votes.


Q: That revenue – is it that small enough to be left out?

It’s a tradeoff. Tomorrow we may not be able to do it for all our reality shows, but at the end of the day if it is about a brand like DID – from the consumer’s perspective, credibility is of primary essence. And whatever brings us that credibility is something we would want to go in for.


Q: Is this a beginning of a new trend in broadcast?

You cannot do this for everything. It is not a model that can be followed by all brands. There are certain attributes of DID in terms of how many people were connecting with it, in terms of it being a brand which is already known and the kind of credibility it has at this juncture…


So I don’t think it’s a concept that’ll fit all brands. How many more people will start following us on that? We don’t know. But we did try this again for another show, Punar Vivah. We decided to apply that to the show because as a concept it applies to a segment where we could afford to be more interactive and it gave us phenomenal results.


Q: Does a show like Punar Vivah attract a lot of traction on social media?

Actually if you go to our Facebook fanpage, Punar Vivah is one of the topics that is heavily discussed. You’re right that you cannot do things on social media blindly. And I’m worried about that. If something is successful people will start using it as a formula. The aspect we’re following for Punar Vivah is very different. We’re doing Punar Vivah symposiums across 18 cities of India, where every week we have a couple of symposiums which includes a psychotherapist, a marriage counsellor and one reputed NGO of that particular city or state. We also have people on the panel who have gone through the remarriage process, our viewers and media.


Our attempt is to bring this so-called taboo topic out of the closet. You may do with social media with a particular level. But, we feel for Punar Vivah that is the one that is actually more relevant than just social media. So yes, you’re right. Social media has to be used keeping the segment that you’re chasing in mind.


Q: You’re at No 3. Neck-and-neck with your nearest competitor. Where next?

No 1 next. It was a matter of 1 GRP with Sony last week.


How long for No 1?

(Smiles) I told you three months ago that we will be No 2 in three months. We’ve become No 2 in three months.


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