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Sensational headlines and visuals drive traffic: Samar Verma, Fork Media

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Sensational headlines and visuals drive traffic: Samar Verma, Fork Media

Fork Media has emerged as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the ad tech space.  It is India’s first ad tech platform, which leverages online, mobile and video platforms, to create innovative solutions for advertisers and publishers. It also creates advertiser focused content that uses data to match audiences to brands.  The company also works with publishers to unlock alternative revenue streams and with advertisers to create long-term engagement with consumers.

Samar Verma, CEO and Founder of Fork Media spoke to exchange4media about the emerging trends in digital media, the challenges in the domain and more.


Our journey started three years back and we had a clear objective that we wanted to ensure a great consumer journey and we identified four key pillars in this journey. One was developing and promoting premium content; the second was getting visibility; the third was to leverage social media while the fourth was to be hyper-local.

Products and services

The first few products that we launched were in the short-tail space where we wanted to get an entry point into short-tail publishers like Indian Express, NDTV and India Today. Till then not many ad networks has been able to get an entry into these premium publications because everyone saw ad networks as commoditization platform that diluted price points.

We built two products there, one was image monetization – which works at the backend and understands the context of the image, the entity in the image, and we layered relevant advertising on top of that. This almost became an alternative inventory for publishers when they had not even thought of monetizing images, and hence it became an interesting inventory bucket for them and we got a massive entry point into all the premium publications.

Today we control over a billion impressions on images through short-tail publications. The second product we launched was Brandpress, which has become the absolute driver for coordination and engagement today and we were among the first ones to launch it in India.

We also built a WiFi monetization platform and created free WiFi hotspots across the country, for instance WiFi at airports, Café Coffee Day, Costa Coffee and Starbucks, so we work with Ozone and Tata and we are the monetization layer on the top. Recently, through this platform we monetized the WiFi that Reliance Jio offered across all stadiums during the World Cup tournament.

These are the alternative inventory routes that we created. As a third party advertising player one cannot get into platforms like Facebook and Twitter, so we tried to influence the marketing of the products being advertised there through Buzzerati –A platform for brands to actively engage and share relevant content. We enable influencers to maintain their social scores through engaging and relevant content and Buzzerati helps brands understand their influence circle and leverage the same.

Consumer trends

The content consumption patterns are witnessing a significant shift. Consumers now look at short form content and gone are the days of long form content. Today a lot of focus is on headlines and how catchy it is for a consumer to stop and take a look at the content offered. The content these days might be average, but the headlines are sensational. We see that a lot of discovery of content is happening on the social media and destinations are becoming irrelevant.

 As a consumer we no more go to websites (destination) but consume content that features on social media, and since the attention span of the consumer is extremely short, we try to capture the attention in 3-5 seconds. The only way to drive traffic is to have sensational headlines, short-form content and visuals to support data. However I strongly feel that quality of content has been compromised somehow and it does not match with the content on print or broadcast media.

Brands and ads

The way ads and brands work is very simple. Consumers today are transitioning from desktops to mobiles and brands need to adapt to that. So if customers are moving from text to visuals, as a brand I have to adapt to that. Content is moving from text based to being video based and ads too have to move in that direction. Today news is presented to the viewers with a picture and 2 lines of text and pure text content is becoming passé.

Need for innovation

Stagnation in ads is something that we’ve been witnessing for a long time now. With the attention span of the consumer being limited to 8-9 seconds, there has to be disruption and innovation to catch that attention. There has to be an integrated strategy of marketing based on how consumer behaves on digital as compared to print and television.

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