The resurgence of non-English media in the digital space is finally happening. And importantly, Hindi, which has been treated as second fiddle to English by the industry despite its significantly higher reach, is finally being treated with the importance it deserves on the international stage. Amar Ujala, a cultural icon and one of India’s largest Hindi media groups, has made its mark on the international stage, with its flagship website amarujala.com winning the WAN-IFRA award for one of the top 3 news websites in South Asia.
Competing against the biggest media houses across South Asia, amarujala.com’s victory signals two important trends: firstly, the fact that the industry is paying attention to the leading voices in Hindi on digital, and secondly, the fact that Amar Ujala’s focus on global standards of product and design is paying off, and may signal a completely different approach to the Hindi audiences.
“Amar Ujala’s vision for digital media is built into its brand vision of creating a world-class experience for the Hindi user, wherever they are in the world. We are therefore creating rich and hyper-engaged media vehicles, which intend to bring the world to the local audience and carry the local audience to the Hindi Diaspora. Our vision is integrated and interactive, and it allows brands to partner with us cross-media. Digital plays an important part for amplification, engagement and rich media. We are expanding our media platform making it video-rich and allowing the user's voice a part of the experience of the platform,” said Probal Ghosal, Director Amar Ujala, commenting on Amar Ujala’s digital vision.
Amar Ujala relaunched its website early this year, with a fully responsive website, clean design, new interactive features and non-intrusive advertising approach. Feature to feature, Amar Ujala has upped the game and matches the best of English news websites, even bettering them, in unique feature sets. This went against the approach taken by most existing Hindi news websites, which were focusing more on quantity of page views, and monetization through distracting and intrusive advertising. Clearly, the innovation and strategic change of approach is working for Amar Ujala.
"The Hindi & other non-English audiences are not credited with taste by most media houses. It is too soon assumed that shabbiness, instant thrill & dumbed-down products will do. As a cultural icon, Amar Ujala sets the standards for Hindi & so we've brought the best practices of global design & packaging with a focus on re-positioning Hindi & its audiences as the aspiration they aspire for,” said Arvind Joshi, Creative and Product Head, Amar Ujala Digital Business.
The award by WAN-IFRA was given taking into account website design, product, innovation and audience fitment. With the digital monetization of news space trying to go beyond Display and Network advertising, these innovations will lead the way for business strategy as well.
Himanshu Gautam, Business Head Amar Ujala Digital, explained the importance of the new website in the context of Amar Ujala’s business objectives, “This is just the first phase of our roll-out plan, aiming at creating new kinds of rich user experiences, which in turn create high-value monetisation opportunities. We refuse to commodify our users by linking our business with just page views. Moving beyond display and network, we’ve built into our digital offering, deeper brand engagement opportunities. But there will be more, stay tuned.”