Siva K. Balasubramanian kindly participated in JOBCM academic and industry collaboration co-faciliated by BOBCM’s curator Justin Kirby. He is Harold L. Stuart Endowed Chair in Business at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Siva’s career as a manager, educator, and academic administrator spans over three decades. He has previously taught at University of Iowa, University of Alberta, Maastricht School of Management, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Siva is the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Research Chair award, in addition to several competitive research grants. His research interests focus on branded content marketing (with an emphasis on product placements and public policy issues). His work has appeared in leading marketing and advertising journals, including Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Advertising, and International Journal of Advertising. His research has attracted funding support from private foundations, nonprofits, business firms, and state agencies.
Siva conducts business seminars for senior corporate executives in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, he serves as a business consultant to clients ranging from large corporations to government agencies. Prior to entering academia, Siva worked for several years as a marketing/sales executive.
Why do you think a Journal of Branded Content Marketing is relevant?
Only a few years ago, the flow of marketing communications was primarily unidirectional, originating with a marketer who controlled and steered message content toward target audiences, at a time and place chosen by the marketer. Following transformative technological changes, marketers are now able to process massive databases and ad auctions in real time such that branded content is delivered at a time and place that an individual chooses. Marketers may embed a message within editorial content to increase its persuasive appeal, or even customize it to the individual to enhance impact. Marketers now enjoy this technology-driven flexibility over content, but individual consumers have also acquired the ability to create and share user-generated content about brands on a massive scale that marketers cannot control. At this time, the flow may evolve into a customized and beneficial real-time dialog with the brand or firm, if a consumer so desires. Technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality may soon lend additional color to brand-related communications at a deep and immersive level. So JOBCM has a huge opportunity to channel new and interesting insights in this space.
What are you expecting to get out of it?
When practitioners and academics collaborate on research projects, the outcomes are always more interesting. I expect that JOBCM will nurture many collaborations of this type in the branded content marketing space.
Why is it important in this area to have more exchange and collaboration between academics and practitioners?
Practitioners have mindsets that adeptly grasp, embrace and respond to quick-paced changes. Academics are more focused on understanding nuances, explanatory rigor, and tight research methodology. Much of what is going on in branded content marketing involves rapid changes that also yield highly nuanced and complex outcomes. So there is much to be gained if JOBCM fosters successful collaborations and exchanges between academics and practitioners.
Why is a conceptualisation of BCM necessary?
When contemplating research within a relatively new and rapidly evolving field, it helps to begin with a benchmarking approach that establishes shared understanding. BCM is ripe for such research inquiry, so there is a pressing need for a fundamental conceptualization of BCM.
How do you think academics can help practitioners in general, and what areas do you think they could specifically help them with?
Practitioners face tremendous time pressure, and are laser focused on generating effective results. This informs their bias toward the “how” rather than “why” of accomplishing desired outcomes. Academics, on the other hand, are more focused on understanding the “why” behind phenomena, and therefore more likely to develop and advance new insights and theories that improve our understanding of consumers.
What are the challenges you face or lessons you have learned when working with practitioners on research projects?
There is an explosion in data availability that has the potential to advance our understanding of market and consumer behaviors. But analyzing a large amount of data without grounded theory poses problems. Given their expertise in theory development, this is a key area where academics can help practitioners.