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The phenomenal rise of digital content creator in India

When Amazon launched its new free advertising-supported, video streaming service, it was quick to note the exclusivity of the Indian market launch and focus on content created by digital content creators in India. The launch of this service and the multitude of other existing digital content platforms – YouTube, Instagram, HiPi – are testament to the growing appetite for non-traditio­nal content and a disruptive generational shift in content creation. The focus on the content-creation cycle is moving away from planned and polished production efforts to new, edgy, short, and topical content.

The definition of a content creator has also undergone a significant shift over time. Previously, to be a content creator, one needed access to expensive production equipment, facilities. The advent of social media has altered this paradigm, levelling the playing field and enabling everybody from a production house to a storyteller with a phone build an audience around digital content.

In India, digital content creators have access to a diverse and growing customer base. There are over 1.2 billion mobile sub­scribers in India in 2021 and the smartphone market itself is expected to reach over 1 billion users by 2026. Further, cheap and fast data services and the potential roll-out of 5G will only increase the screen time spent by audiences, both rural and urban, and drive the demand for content.

As content creators embrace new technologies that enable rapid production and deployment of digital assets, their reach and interactive access to their followers have made them relatable, economical, and effective brand ambassadors. Digital content creators can engage with their subscriber base through comments, stories, status updates, chats, live streaming events, podcasts, and other platform-enabled interactions to enable a personalized and monetizable experience.

Advertising firms have shifted focus to digital influencers, who can collaborate with brands and leverage their organic fame. Digital advertising is expected to account for over 32 percent of the total advertising spend in India. There is also the potential to play across the digital content value chain with short-form video-content creators finding production houses and OTT platforms willing to create or co-create TV series, reality shows, or movies that play to relatability of the content creator.

With minimal barriers to entry, the digital content creator journey has inspired millions of Indians to take the plunge into content creation. Content creators are tackling a wide range of topics from memes, comedy, dance trends, songs, politics, and other news, across the short-video and long-format video spectrum. Through unboxing videos, gadget reviews, make-up tutorials, product comparisons, and live streaming, the content creator can even influence e-commerce decisions of customers. With the availability of high-performance smart phones, it is possible to manage the entire process of content creation to distribution on-the-fly and shrink the time-to-market for content.

Traditional media-engagement models were onerous and lacked the instantaneous feedback loop that digital media creators have access to. Near-real-time analytics for trends, influencer ratings, subscriber demographics, and content-­creator reach have matured significantly, enabling content creators and sponsors to make smarter strategic and financial decisions. AI can also be used by influencers to identify new viral trends and assess the potential of moneti­zing different content types across content platforms.

Given that content platforms may be swiftly impacted by geopolitical turmoil, digital creators are diversifying their portfolios by adopting newer platforms, features, and techno­logies. The runaway success of the industry also means that it will also remain a lightning rod for restric­tions, content regulations, and public scrutiny. However, with platforms playing by existing regulatory frameworks, while stringently self-regulating content they deem in­appropriate, the potential for digital content creators to err has been significantly lowered. In a diverse and populous country like ours, the digital content-creator ecosystem is reaping the benefits of an expanding ecosystem with better access to technology, audience, and content sources. With nearly every enabling factor playing to its advantage, there is no way but up for the digital content creator in India.

The article has been co-authored by Akshay Sudhir, Associate Director, Deloitte India.

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