How martech startup Scatter creates business for brands with effective content marketing
Around 2013, advertising models like programmatic advertising, retargeting, and social media marketing were in the limelight. In fact, the programmatic advertising revenue streams were seeing a sharp rise. This caught the attention of former IBNLive CEO Rajan Srinivasan and Network18’s former Vice President of Sales (moneycontrol.com) Mahip Singh.
While working in their respective roles, Rajan found that marketers were keen to understand how publishers and agencies could scale content. At the same time, Mahip was discussing 'non-inventory' marketing solutions for his clients at Web18 (the Internet and Mobile arm of Network18).
With over two decades of experience in the industry, Rajan Srinivasan, Founder and CEO, Scatter, says,
“I had indicated to Mahip (Co-founder and COO) that I might look to move on from Network18 and build a business around content marketing. I was looking at the right time and wanted to get a fix on the founding team. Mahip and I seemed excited about the idea and spoke to other colleagues at Web18."
By September 2014, their colleagues — Martha D'Souza, Abhishek Sharma, and Garima Sharma — had moved on from Web18. Thus, in December 2014, Scatter Content Solutions was established in New Delhi.
Why a martech startup?
To attract the attention of the C-Suite in enterprises, many companies look at deploying their content at a scale. Unfortunately, these are met with zero success since it only gives a lot of views but not business closures for these companies. Here's where Scatter comes in. It helps brands to find large audiences with its technology and creates business for them.
Scatter started by building a technology platform where marketers could 'syndicate' content from established publishers. Next, it created a content marketplace to bring content creators and marketers on either side of the platform. However, this idea was short-lived as marketers needed hand-holding in content planning, strategy, and guidance to align with their business goals.
The startup was quick to make amends and became a martech(marketing technology) startup that aimed at fixing the broken consumer experiences by mapping their journeys and identifying micro-communities that make the marketers customers. Why? Brands create stickiness with their prospective customers.
"Today, marketers are lesser dependent on any via-media as consumers can reach out to the organisations directly. Think about brand apps, call centres, websites, etc. Simply put, customers are asking the questions, and Scatter is helping brands be the answer," says Rajan.
Its platform-based products like the workflow management system, content recommendation engine, and a digital creative asset manager are built basis the startup’s experiences in content creation.
"We've focussed on eliminating the pain points content creators and marketers face. Our products help the content marketing ecosystem get ahead and avoid reinventing the learning curve, thereby saving precious time," he adds.
Scatter is in the business of making clear distinctions between branded content, advertising, native content, and content marketing, and helps brands make content creation more accurate and appropriate, the co-founder says.
Its product recommends content ideas, allows scale, and enables fast turnaround times of reach to the customers, which then evolve into single or multiple content formats.
Once the brand signs up with Scatter, the process starts where several layers of approvals and quality checks are required before it is finally published.
"For marketers who work with Scatter, life is a lot easier. They use our content recommendation engine and save time on the brainstorming that leads to titling the content. After this, our workflow management system connects them to several freelancers and allows all feedback and approvals to be on a single platform. In-built plagiarism and SEO checkers, publishing calendars, topical ideas, and a host of other features allow creating content in large quantities without losing the quality edge," says Rajan.
“Our asset manager Scatter Content Box allows fast access to content and publishing, thereby saving precious time and allowing our partners to focus on the bigger picture," Rajan adds.
While companies in social media marketing, SEO, or digital advertising are focussed on one aspect of marketing promotions, the co-founder says, "At Scatter, we believe that content marketing will soon be the most crucial team and function within marketing. And, these teams are rapidly getting ready for this new tomorrow."
The startup works across all verticals, whether its client or business partner is in the B2B or B2C space.
The first pay-cheque
In January 2015, Scatter launched its first completely platform-driven product, and it needed an advanced marketer to appreciate the offering. Deepali Naair, Marketing Head of Club Mahindra (at the time), believed in the startup. The travel company became its first client as it used its tech to make intelligent content to market the business.
"Our initial call to go completely platform-driven through a syndication model delayed a potentially early take-off. However, my founding team quickly realised this, and we pivoted early in our journey. Like other businesses, we've faced cash flow issues, talent shortage, and perhaps we were a little ahead of our time. Besides these, I can't think of any major difficulty in building this business," Rajan claims, sharing the obstacles Scatter faced at the beginning of its journey.
The startup has two main revenue streams. One of its revenue streams works on the services side of the business, where Scatter helps marketers create content and achieve their business goals, and, in turn, gets renumerated for the time it helps out the brand. In the second revenue stream, the startup allows brands to use its automated marketing tools to manage where a particular content best fits in for the brand.
Over 80 Indian companies, including HDFC Bank, TATA AIG, TATA Capital, Salesforce, MG Motors, Facebook, Ford, Airtel, and Aditya Birla Health Insurance use Scatter’s workflow management system, digital asset manager, and content recommendation products.
It operates a SaaS-based business model, where companies are billed monthly on the number of times that a client uses its product, and the pricing is based on the amount of content that is generated and automated.
So far, Scatter has raised $200,000 in total funding from a clutch of investors, with angel investor Haresh Chawla becoming its first investor in December 2014.
In the next 18 months, Scatter plans on developing its product further. "In India, we're moving the needle to make marketers see content creation as a means to the end, and not the end itself. We're also determined to create an immensely profitable enterprise to help us fuel our growth and ambitions. We've always had aspirations of being a global player, and believe our ambitions will see the light of day soon. We've worked with over 200 brands, and created more than 70,000 pieces of content so far," Rajan says.
Presently, the startup is operating out of offices in Bengaluru, Dubai, Mumbai, and New Delhi.
It closed the last fiscal (FY19-20) at $2.4 million (about Rs 16 crore), up from $1.73 million the year before. Given the growing demand for content marketing expertise and its product suite, Scatter has plans for significant growth this year.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it witnessed a massive upswing in marketers buying its products in the last four months, owing to the collaborative and remote nature of its products. Rajan says if the momentum continues, it should be able to double its net revenues this fiscal.
According to a report titled,‘Martech: 2020 and Beyond,’ created by BDO, WARC, and the University of Bristol, about $121.5 billion was spent on marketing technology in 2019.
Considering the huge market, Scatter competes with Optimizely, BuzzSumo, Wistia, HotJar, and GoToMeeting.
Rajan and Mahip believe that by the end of 2021, there will be a lot more emphasis on content. "Content will continue to be the important driver to retain and win new customers. Technology will create a scale for all brands looking to reach millions of customers on different platforms," Rajan concludes.
Edited by Suman Singh