Sr. Vice President - Revenue & Brand Partnerships (National Head) at ScoopWhoop
Zeenat Jagmag on Human-Driven Storytelling and AI Integration
Dive into the intriguing world of content creation and content marketing through the candid perspectives of Zeenat Jagmag, a respected industry veteran. Join her in an enlightening conversation with Kishan as they explore complex topics like the role of AI in content generation, the importance of data and human observation, and content's evolving position in the marketing stack.
Zeenat Jagmag, Sr. Vice President - Revenue & Brand Partnerships (National Head) at ScoopWhoop, talks to Kishan, Head of Business at Pepper Content, about the intricacies of strategic, human-oriented storytelling, the tangible impact of technology on content marketing, and the potential future of the domain. Zeenat's insightful responses encompass powerful observations, practical advice, and bold predictions, making this an essential read for content professionals and market enthusiasts.
1. Can you tell us about your journey?
My journey has been quite exciting! I started as a marketeer and then shifted to sales and strategy work. Understanding both sides of the business has been a big advantage for me, whether I was working with a big company or a small startup.
Right from the beginning, I've been all about creatively telling stories. I enjoy making branded content, which means crafting stories for businesses. This storytelling thing has been with me throughout my career, like a constant companion. Storytelling isn't just a job for me; it's a part of who I am. It's like my DNA. Life wouldn't feel complete without it. So, that's me – someone who loves stories and sees them as vital to everything I do.
Creative communication through storytelling doesn't have to fit into a particular bucket. There is no right way to do this or a right way to do that. The idea is how you can communicate effectively, strategize, and then the format is a byproduct of whatever you wish to communicate.
2. How did you manage to educate people about branded content and scale up as a content leader during ScoopWhoop's early days?
Brands needed to understand why teaming up with content is a good idea. You see, performance marketing gives quick results that you can measure easily. But content is a different game that takes time. Content needs ongoing conversations with people to be effective. So, getting content to work well with marketing plans is key. Think of it like a partnership between content and performance marketing. Performance marketing is great, but let's not forget the power of content. Take someone like Kusha Kapila. She smoothly talks about products in her everyday stories. It's like chatting about how a face cream is an awesome moisturizer while going about her day.
Now, this is where performance marketing comes in. When you trust someone like Kusha and see her using a product, you might want to buy it too. The combination of content and performance marketing matters a lot. But not many brands and agencies fully realize how impactful it can be. Now, there's a big change happening – the creator economy is booming. Everyone is into influencer marketing, from big groups to smaller agencies. Why? Because it's about connecting with people through interesting content instead of just pushing products. TV ads do that already.
3. Can you define branded content from a brand's and a publisher's point of view?
Branded content, from the brand's side, means making content that subtly includes the product in interesting stories. These stories leave a strong impression, something you remember later. Now, from the publisher's side (like ScoopWhoop), it's important not to make the content feel too much like an ad. Publishers have their style and mood in regular content. If a branded piece is about the product, it doesn't match the usual vibe, and people won't like it as much. People nowadays want real, honest content. We try to keep our real voice at ScoopWhoop. This is what attracts brands to us. So, what works well for us in branded content is creating inspiring and doable stuff and finding the right balance that our audience connects with.
4. Can you explain how branded content's impact is measured nowadays, including the metrics used, and differentiate between the specific goals and metrics of branded content and PR?
Alright, let's talk about how we measure success and what metrics matter. Whether it's for publishers or brands, success comes with certain numbers. Views and reach are like the basics – they show how many people saw the content. But we might miss something: 10% of comments are relevant. Even though it might not seem like much, it's a big deal. This kind of engagement is like a secret win you can't see on the surface.
When brands want to do something, it's not just about getting noticed. Sometimes, they want to sell stuff or solve problems that aren't big news. This is where branded content and PR go their separate ways. PR is all about talking about products and events – it's like giving you the facts. But branded content is more like a story. The product isn't the main character; it's more like a helper in the story. It's not just about selling; it's about creating an experience that connects with people. So, remember, the difference between pushing products with PR and telling stories with branded content is more than just what's being sold. It's about how we connect with our audience through stories that matter.
5. How does ScoopWhoop's content engine work? Do you have in-house writers, freelancers, and subject matter experts involved?
Absolutely, our approach is straightforward and deliberate. Our foundation lies in conscious hiring, with a key emphasis on celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion. This principle profoundly echoes our content creation process. Our core belief is that someone who identifies as X can truly capture the essence of X, just as someone who identifies as Y can authentically speak for Y. Take our editorial board, for instance; it's a vibrant blend of Bengalis, Biharis, and individuals from a multitude of cultures.
This diverse composition is purposeful, as only those immersed in culture can comprehend its nuances. You can't grasp these subtleties through detached research and expect to resonate with the audience. The heart of our strength lies in the diversity of our team, a team that connects with consumers based on shared passions, intelligence, and motivations. Naturally, we strategize and allocate categories to well-versed editors in those areas, allowing us to craft compelling content that resonates authentically.
And that's just the editorial facet of our approach. Unlike relying on AI or freelancers, we've chosen a different path. We've charted our journey through a self-sufficient model grounded in astute hiring practices that truly bring our content to life.
Of course, AI tools like ChatGPT enable you to do work faster. They build your rough draft super quickly so you can optimize time. But at the end of the day, you have to apply yourself.
6. How has technology, especially recent advancements like ChatGPT and new AI generations, impacted content marketing within your experience at ScoopWhoop and any prior exposure to similar systems?
In my marketing journey, I've relied on two important things: data and paying attention to what's happening around me. AI tools like ChatGPT help me work faster by creating drafts quickly, saving time. But here's the thing – you still need to put in the effort to make the content better and match your ideas.
Recently, these tools have become handy for efficient work and saving time. But when it comes to making good content, two key things can't be ignored: data and observations. These are like the building blocks for creating content that works well. By combining what we learn from data and what we see around us, we can communicate effectively and get our messages across in the best possible way.
Branded content is here to stay. Because as long as storytelling exists, branded content is here to stay.
7. With content's expanding influence from ideation to analytics and the rise of content marketing's importance, how do you see its position within marketing stacks evolving?
Even in tough times like recessions, content often isn't seen as a top priority, with more focus on things like performance marketing. This was a challenge even when I started my career a decade ago – convincing people of the content's value. That challenge still exists today, but now it's about finding ways to be efficient and cost-effective for brands and agencies, given tighter budgets.
Remember, you don't always need big productions like web series to communicate your point. Short one-minute films can be just as powerful if they're cleverly made. Branded content isn't going away; as long as stories are told, it's here to stay. It's simple: content is key for engaging people, and the product subtly fits into that narrative for a lasting impact.
Look at platforms like ScoopWhoop, Filter Copy, and TVF – they succeed because they connect with their audience. However, we need to remember that creative communication through stories doesn't follow strict rules. There's no one right way. What matters is effective communication and smart planning. Whether a short film or web series, the format comes from what you want to say. So, don't focus only on formats – they come from the content's purpose.
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