Inshorts, the news aggregator which publishes the top news stories of the day in just 60 words, is testing new ways of monetizing its content with brand partners.
Azhar Iqubal, Co-founder and CEO of Inshorts, told exchange4media said that the platform is currently experimenting with partners like Zomato, Amazon, Swiggy, Lenovo, etc. to determine how the monetization roadmap will look like.
Though Inshorts does not have any revenue model right now, Iqubal told us that the company was working towards creating one in the next six months.
“Our monetisation roadmap is going to be based on combining brand centric content with the power of personalisation. In effect, we hope to solve the problem brands face in reaching the right customers. Brand partnerships like these are the first steps in that direction and the response from our users has also been very encouraging,” said Iqubal, further adding that branded content created with the likes of Amazon and Zomato were among the top 10 per cent read stories.
Inshorts raised $20 million from Tiger Global in Series B funding back in July 2015. The company is not looking to raise any more money currently as Iqubal feels that given its low burn rate, the current capital is enough for the near future. The company has already expanded its initial 32 member team to over 70.
Speaking about the ongoing brand experiments, Iqubal said, “We are still trying to figure out how people will react to it (branded content). The first thing is to create content. The second is to reach the right audience. Our proposition is to create, innovate and find new and exciting ways to tell stories.”
Defending the decision to incorporate branded content in its newsfeed, Iqubal informed us that branded content is usually limited to 3-4 articles per day, compared to the 1000 articles that the platform publishes daily. “Even though this is sponsored content, these are not at all subjective. Our aim is to be objective and deal with only facts and hard data points. For example, with Zomato, we carried stories on the highest ranked restaurants on the platform. We did not give reviews of the restaurant,” he said.
Apart from the ongoing work with brands, Inshorts is also approaching publishers to publish their content (in short form) directly on the platform. Iqubal says that a few niche publishers, including SportsKeeda, have already come on board.
Backed by Tiger Global and the founders of Flipkart, Inshorts aims to become India’s first content unicorn with a billion users globally by 2020, and plans to release the app in more vernacular languages, as well as in countries outside India, before the end of 2016. It has already become the highest ranking news app in India on the Google Play Store.
To create more awareness, Inshorts recently launched its first brand campaign. The video campaign, called “Short mein jaano” has been conceptualized by Cheil India and produced by Code Red Films. The 4 week long campaign will go live on digital and social platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Though, Iqubal did not share details about the campaign budget, but said that the next step would be to use other mediums like TV, etc.
“There is a parallel market for short format content and this is where we want to focus on and create more awareness about,” said Iqubal.