rajneelViacom18’s kids entertainment channel Nickelodeon is launching its mobile app, Nickworld on Android and iOS for its viewers this month. The app will include 2-3 seasons of 9 of their shows including SpongeBob SquarePants, Bubble Guppies, Kung Fu Panda, among others, with each season consisting of 20 episodes each. The app would also include over 80 games. In the light of this launch, Rajneel Kumar, VP & Business Head – Digital at Viacom18 spoke to MediaNama about the change in the monetization strategy of Nickelodeon’s franchisee properties as well as the general direction of Viacom18’s digital strategy for all its channels.

Medianama: Why an app for kids? How do you expect kids to watch consume the content?

Kumar: There are two parts to this – video content and gaming. More and more time is being spent on web properties by viewers for consuming videos. There is a huge amount of proprietary content that kids consume. Parents are the major connect for us with the kids. Parents log into our websites for the kids and the kids play on the web. With respect to mobile, it is the parents who want the kids to watch the content. Once the app is downloaded, it has been designed in a very kid friendly manner, be it UI, safety and other features. We have no social media integration for content addressing age group below 13 years of age keeping safety of kids in mind.

In the gaming category, we have some popular characters and these characters lend themselves for these games. We have an in-house studio where the games are made and given to the market for sale.

Medianama: What is your approach for digital for a channel like Nickelodeon?

Kumar: When we speak about Nickelodeon, it includes the entire franchise of Nick jr, Nick Toddler, Teen Nick and Sonic Nick. Our digital strategy addresses audiences including parents of kids between 8-18 years and the 41 million kids who belong to generation Z for whom mobile has become the medium of access. This is a vestibule market. The time spent outside of television has also increased. and we are building our strategy around this.

We have been in the process of launching our revamped websites for our different Nickelodeon franchisee properties. Moving forward, we are looking at partnerships to distribute the content for kids to consume. We would distribute content on popular platforms through both free and paid models.

Medianama: Why launch a mobile app to consume videos? Would bandwidth be a problem?

Kumar: As we see right now, the data access is happening around 3G, 2G & Wi-fi. We see no problem with 3G and Wi-fi. For 2G, we are doing technological changes to provide a seamless experience even for the 2G users. For us, we see it as a matter of time before the bandwidth problem actually goes away, especially with the way the ecosystem is changing presently with respect to 2G & 3G consumption.

Medianama: What are the ways in which you have monetized your digital content?

Kumar: The digital advertising industry is growing. Our strategy has been to figure out how do we make viable segmented content for advertisers to come on board. This would be applicable for both our web and freemium models. All properties we have created are not marketing properties. They are full blown consumer properties. We are not looking at piece meal inventory. We are looking at campaign led activation. We have launched DreamStar Stardom Saga, a casual game for teenage girl where girl aspires to be a movie star in the virtual world. The sentiment here goes well with any fashion or lifestyle brand. The game forms a core part of the activation but it doesn’t end there. We take it across different platforms like web with micro-site, social media platforms where weekly contests are held. We are also planning to take it on ground space thereby giving a 360 approach for brands.

Medianama: How do you plan to monetize your digital video content?

Kumar: There is a campaign that we are planning to run for children’s day where we focus on asking the question – Why children’s day? Why not a children’s month?  We have divided the entire month of November into weeks with one character assigned for each week. There will then be questions on trivia and kids will answer those questions. This is then offered to the advertisers as a property. We would also have video pre-rolls etc. We are trying to create an experience for the consumers & advertisers as opposed to just selling pre-roll as an ad unit.

Medianama: How do you see brands working with these shows?

Kumar: Brands will come and own these campaigns during Carnival month. The gratification we will do for the weekly winners will be linked backed to the brands. While we create engagement, brands are a part of this entire process. Apart from that, there would be also be banner and pre-roll ads. However, the idea is for brands to be a part of the entire campaign. Brands are reaching out to young parents, who are the first level of initiators for kids consuming digital content. It is the parent’s email id that needs to be verified for registration. There is a lot of data that is being gathered from these young parents and brands across finance, education can target this segment. That’s how we see advertisers reaching out to that segment of parents.

MediaNama: How are you monetizing the Nickworld app?

Kumar: Most of these apps are on the freemium model. It also includes in-app payment, ad serving model and a third model where we take the app and make it at the core of a campaign for brands including social media, on-ground etc. Our video content on mobile will also be monetized in two ways – through pre-roll and mid-roll inventory and the second is through sponsorship of sections or shows within the app itself.

Currently, we are looking at advertisers who own only digital content. There is a need for digital strategy among advertisers which may or may not include television. Brands that are coming on board are brands that have a digital only strategy with us.

Medianama: What are the challenges with monetizing digital content?

Kumar: Currently, the challenge is that the entire ecosystem needs to be evangelizing means of monetizing outside of search and display. Digital advertising is beyond just search and display and that is what we are looking at addressing. How do you work on building campaigns that are beyond search and display and how do you make them measurable? This is our approach to all our English content, be it VH1, Comedy Central, MTV, Colors,and  not just the Nickelodeon franchisee properties.

Medianama: What are the limitations of banner ads & pre-roll?

Kumar: The limitation is that they are first created first for another medium and then shifted out to digital. It has low CTR on campaigns because ads by themselves are not prompting users to click on them. We are looking at making advertisers own the content or campaigns that we are exclusively creating to tell their story, which I think is better than just using ads that have been created for other media.

Medianama: What are the challenges with bringing advertisers from TV on to digital?

Kumar: Time spent on digital media and digital consumption are growing by the day and it is equaling if not exceeding the television viewership in many instances. Bringing advertisers on board is not the challenge but the challenge is in offering an effective approach to advertisers to address their audiences. That’s where the challenge lies.

Medianama: Are you looking at making exclusive digital content in the future?
Kumar: There are two sets of content – the content that is built on television and the content for digital. As a supplement to the content on television, we are creating content with advertisers which is only for the digital medium. As a part of our team, we have a creative team that is creating original content with brands and thereby we end up making exclusive content for digital.

Medianama: Going forward how do you see the content consumption of a channel like Nickelodeon changing with digital?

Kumar: The kids today are digital natives. They don’t know what life was like without a tablet or mobile. From our perspective, we will keep making new products and apps, keep engaging on social media with our viewers. While we are doing this, we will also be creating ways for advertisers to engage with us.