Airtel Payments Bank appoints Dhiraj Sharda as Chief Digital Officer

Sharda will be responsible for product development, digital delivery and development of digital marketing platforms for Airtel Payments Bank

e4m by e4m Desk
Published: Dec 22, 2016 12:34 PM  | 2 min read
Airtel Payments Bank appoints Dhiraj Sharda as Chief Digital Officer

Airtel Payments Bank announced that it has appointed Dhiraj Sharda as its Chief Digital Officer. He will report to Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank.

In his new role, Sharda will be responsible for product development, digital delivery and development of digital marketing platforms for Airtel Payments Bank. He will also drive some of the proactive initiatives by Airtel Payments Bank to accelerate the adoption of digital/cashless payments across the country.

Airtel Payments Bank is a fully digital and paperless bank and customers can access services over their mobile phones, including all feature/basic mobile phones. Airtel Payments Bank will develop a nationwide digital payments ecosystem of over 3 million merchant partners that will include small kirana stores, shops and restaurants. These merchant partners will accept digital payments for goods and services from Airtel Payments Bank customers over mobile phones. 

Commenting on the appointment, Arora said, “We are pleased to have Dhiraj as part of our leadership team. I am confident that his rich experience will add value to our endeavour to deliver world-class digital banking and payments solutions to every Indian through innovative products. I wish Dhiraj all the very best for his new role and look forward to working with him.”

Sharda brings with him over 15 years of rich work experience with start-ups and large companies in Silicon Valley (USA). He joins Airtel Payments Bank from IAC (the parent company of Expedia, Match and Tinder.com), where he was Sr. Director of Product. In the past, he has worked with Prosper, Visa, AT&T, Yahoo and Wipro.

Sharda has done his MS from Stanford University, USA and Computer Engineering from Pune University. 

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Video personalisation with AI: On every marketer’s festive checklist this year

Brands are capitalizing on Generative AI to realize a host of benefits, from scaling up personalization efforts to tailoring content to individual preferences, at a previously unimaginable scale

By Shantanu David | Sep 21, 2023 8:42 AM   |   5 min read

AI

Shah Rukh Khan is on a roll these days, and not just because of the massive success of his last two outings to the cinema. While his AI- powered Cadbury ad earlier this year generated much attention and many plaudits (including a Cannes Lion for Cadbury and agency Ogilvy Mumbai), ITC Sunfeast and media partner IPG just announced a new campaign which will allow consumers to ‘co-star’ with India’s King using the power of, you guess it, Generative AI.

And while Khan may be the shiniest example, he’s not the only star shining a light on how brands can use AI to deliver personalized experiences to customers like never before. From Virat Kohli and ViVo to Ayushmann Khurrana and Wakefit, brands and celebrities are turning to the technology like never before, just in time for the festive season.

Sanjeev Jasani, COO, Cheil India, says, “After brands like Cadbury led the way, advertisers have become more confident and have started experimenting with Generative AI to create personalized video ads. This technology allows brands to efficiently generate multiple variations of video content, catering to diverse customer preferences. It's a cost-effective way to scale up personalization during high-demand periods and goes a long way in delivering a great experience as well.”

Anupreet Singh, Chief Revenue Officer at Gan.ai, a video personalization company that leverages the power of generative AI to provide its ever-growing roster of clients is even more emphatic. “In one sentence, I would say that any brand that does not use video personalization during this festive season will face a very hard time in having any kind of brand recall. And the reason why I say that is because the number of brands that are trying to do that this season are a lot. If a brand is sending a text message or a generic video, in the larger scheme of the total number of messages that you will get, you'll never remember that something like that happened. So, I think the acceleration of the use of AI in this festive season will be massive.”

Gan.ai’s list of clients reads like a who’s who of both Indian and global brands, as more companies turn to the technology, but because of the efficiencies of AI in cost as well as quality, Singh says the technology is being embraced widely.

“Companies are now joining the fold because they are seeing direct ROI out of it and a lot of these big brands are using us to build their top-of-mind awareness to cut through the noise and create a campaign that really stands out. Also, a lot of upcoming brands are looking at it as a performance marketing hack. Brands like Alliance Group are using us for their communications across the board. And even several start-ups and smaller brands are turning to us,” says Singh.

Vivek Kumar Anand, Chief Business Officer, DViO Digital, says that as brands seek to capture the attention and emotions of their audiences during the festive season, utilising AI allows them to stand out, remain relevant, and create memorable experiences. “The landscape of festive advertising is evolving, with AI playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of how brands communicate and engage with their audiences. Advertisers are teaming up with Generative AI to craft festive adverts that feel just for you. It's about adding that personal touch, making visuals stand out, and ensuring everything's set for the festive rush.”

He adds, “Here at DViO, we fully embrace AI, refining our new tool with insights from past projects. And we're not the only ones; big tech names are pouring resources into AI, underscoring its massive importance in the market.”

Amitt Sharma, Founder and CEO, VDO.AI, says that advertisers are tapping into the tremendous potential of Generative AI to transform their festive ad campaigns by allowing the creation of dynamic, personalised and engaging CTV/OTT advertisements at scale.

“In fact, we've been experiencing a surge in requests from brands seeking to collaborate on customized AI campaigns with us for Q4. This trend underscores the ever-growing appetite for innovative AI-driven solutions that can elevate brands' engagement with their audiences and drive meaningful results,” says Sharma.

Atrayee Chakraborty, Knowledge and Strategy Partner, Lodestar UM, says that Generative AI adoption in advertising is experiencing rapid growth. According to a recent study conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a remarkable 40% of advertisers intend to incorporate generative AI into their marketing campaigns within the next year. “This marks a substantial increase from a mere 10% in 2021, underscoring the technology's expanding influence in the industry.”

“This technology capitalizes on a wealth of data, including past purchase history, browsing behaviours, and social media interactions, to craft personalized content that encompasses everything from scripts to storyboards and visually engaging elements. Brands are capitalizing on Generative AI to realize a host of benefits, from scaling up personalization efforts, to tailoring content to individual preferences at a previously unimaginable scale,” says Chakraborty.

However, Jasani cautions that brands should exercise caution in the area of data privacy and take all necessary permissions before implementing these ideas. “The technology is fairly simple but the beauty is in what idea you wrap around it. Even though technologies like Generative AI are fast catching on, I still believe that in our business of communication, you will need an idea to make it stand out and do its job. That’s why the business of ideas can never be replaced by AI but will only be enhanced by it.”

Sharma agrees, noting that brands need to be watchful of the potential pitfall of excessive reliance on technology, which could result in a disconnect from their audience. “Striking the right balance involves prioritizing interactive and audience-centric advertising strategies. These strategies may encompass localized and IP-address enabled ad delivery, incorporating elements of gamification, and incorporating remote-based integrated polls. These measures serve to engage viewers while remaining sensitive to the evolving needs and preferences of the audience.”

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Meta expands payment options on WhatsApp to grow India business

The tech giant has partnered with Razorpay and PayU to make payment 'as simple as sending a message'

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 7:41 AM   |   2 min read

WhatsApp

Indian consumers shopping on WhatsApp can now pay using Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe or debit and credit cards within its app. 

The announcement was made at Meta's Conversations Conference in Mumbai on Wednesday. 

WhatsApp has more than 500 million users in India, the largest in the world. However, the government has capped its in-app pay service to 100M users. Now, users can shop and send a payment through the app of their choice within WhatsApp. 

“We’re making it easier to complete a purchase directly in the chat. Starting today, people in India can add items to their cart and send a payment using the method of their choice from all supported UPI apps, debit and credit cards, and more”, according to the company’s blog. 

Meta has partnered with Razorpay and PayU to make payment “as simple as sending a message”. 

Meta also announced “WhatsApp Flows” on Wednesday that will enable businesses to offer more functions such as choosing a train seat, ordering food or booking an appointment all without leaving the chat window. 

The company will make Flows available to businesses globally using the WhatsApp Business Platform in the coming weeks. 

Meta also announced that it will soon expand Meta Verified to businesses on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp after having rolled out the feature for creators in March.

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India leading in terms of businesses having embraced messaging: Zuckerberg

The Meta CEO was attending the company's Annual Conversations in Mumbai virtually where a slew of new features for WhatsApp were announced

By e4m Staff | Sep 20, 2023 2:11 PM   |   2 min read

whatsapp

“India is a country that's at the forefront of a lot of what we're going to talk about today,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his virtual address during the Meta’s Annual Conversations in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Zuckerberg also lauded India and Indians for “leading the world in terms of how people and businesses have embraced messaging as the better way to get things done.”

The Meta CEO also spoke about the new innovations on WhatsApp. “We’ve continued to innovate with our messaging formats, our group chats and broadcast channels. And it's the same focus that we're bringing to how we support businesses, creating simple to use and easy to scale tools so they can connect with their customers in meaningful ways,” he said.

Zuckerberg also expounded on the various ways in which WhatsApp supports businesses, such as creating customized experiences, etc. During the event, Meta announced brand new features for WhatsApp Business, such as UPI integration. The company also announced the expansion of Meta Verified to businesses on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. 

“Now, as you know, we’ve launched our own payment solution in Brazil and in Singapore, and today I am excited to announce that we are bringing this service to India. With payments in India, we’re going to support other payment methods as well, including all UPI apps. This is going to make it even easier for people to pay Indian businesses within a WhatsApp chat using whatever method they prefer,” he said in his address. 

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Elon Musk to charge 'small' fee for X (Twitter) subscription

The Twitter owner said that the move may help weed out bot accounts

By e4m Staff | Sep 20, 2023 1:20 PM   |   1 min read

Elon Musk

X (formerly Twitter) users may soon have to pay subscription fees to use the platform, according to Elon Musk. The magnate has hinted that he could soon enforce a paywall around the business to get rid of bot accounts, which has become a throne on his side: “We are moving to having a small monthly payment for use of systems.”

Musk made the disclosure when he was in a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who visited Tesla Motors in California. Currently, the platform charges users for accessing premium features of X such as checkmarks for verified accounts.

By enforcing subscriptions, bot account users may get discouraged from creating new accounts.

Musk has not mentioned how much the new paid service may cost or what special features can the users avail of.

In the meeting with Netanyahu, Musk also addressed the issues of antisemitism prevalent on the plaform.

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OTT won't be regulated as telecom service: DoT

DoT said that the current definition of telecom services under the Telegraph Act is good enough and that there’s no need to add OTT in the new bill

By e4m Staff | Sep 19, 2023 8:28 AM   |   2 min read

OTT

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly said that OTT (over-the-top) players won’t come under the purview of the definition of  telecommunication services in the Telecom Bill.

According to news reports, DoT said that the current definition of telecom services under the Telegraph Act is good enough and that there’s no need to add OTT in the new bill.

The government won’t be enabling a revenue-sharing model between the OTTs and the telecom-sharing providers.

The report also quoted a government official who said that there’s no revenue-sharing mechanism in the works.

Telecos have been demanding a share of the revenue earned by OTT players who have been using the former’s network for carriage of their apps.

In their defence, the telecom companies contend that the streaming apps have been offering heavy services and generating disproportionately high traffic, pushing them to upgrade their network capacity.

The new Telecom Bill is set to replace the Telegraph Act, which defines “telegraph” as “any appliance, instrument, material or apparatus used

or capable of use for transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, visual or other electro-magnetic emissions, Radio waves or Hertzian waves, galvanic, electric or magnetic means.”

The move to remove OTT from the Telecom Bill is reportedly expected to be tabled in the winter session of the Parliament.

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Ad Nauseum: Are AI algorithms hurting ad performance?

Increasing use of AI-generated content & data can decrease production of original content, while simultaneously increasing the volume of deductive and AI-generated content, say experts

By Shantanu David | Sep 19, 2023 8:27 AM   |   6 min read

ai

As we navigate the oft murky depths of the internet and digital media, sailing from content to information, and weaving between news and retail; that is when it happens.

Ad nauseum, whether it’s the act of repeating something to the point of aversion or the effect of seeing the same ad for air fryers for days after having innocuously Googled ‘healthy French Fries’ that one time, seems to be occurring more frequently. And you can blame it, as you can most things according to certain talking heads these days, on the advent of Artificial Intelligence.

“AI plays a big role in digital ads, making things smoother and better. But there's a worry that AI might make ads too similar because it only uses similar data,” observes Sanjeev Jasani, COO, Cheil India.

And that’s only what’s happening at the metaphorical shop front. Things behind the counter have the potential to get a lot messier. And that’s even as more advertisers, publishers, and media merchants pivot towards the inarguable efficacy and application of AI technologies.

Ghosts in the machine

Agreeing with the universal sentiment that AI is the next big thing, Shashidhar Sharma, Country Head – Programmatic, GroupM Nexus, says the utilization of AI and its inherent ability to analyze extensive data sets for extracting insights has led to a multitude of practical applications, and increased revenue generation, and thereby has a consequential impact.

“However, the possibility of the data sets themselves being biased does exist. An increasing use of AI-generated content and data has the potential to decrease the production of original content, while simultaneously increasing the volume of deductive and AI-generated content. Subsequently, this heightens the risk of content loops, which impacts advertising and programmatic vastly as we advertise pertinent content trying to reach out to relevant users. If content loops or echo chambers become predominant, users will progressively shift away from them and seek out original content that provides up-to-date and contextually accurate information.”

Siddhant Mazumdar, Head, Mediabrands Content Studio – India, says that Artificial Intelligence unquestionably has the potential to generate echo chambers across various applications. “With the proliferation of AI-generated content, there's a concern that AI may end up primarily curating content created by other AI systems, sidelining human involvement. This scenario presents a somewhat dystopian perspective. As AI content becomes indistinguishable from human-created content, it becomes increasingly challenging to ascertain its source.”

Indeed, consumers today have been exposed to different forms of echo chambers for a while now. It’s not (just) that people in your digital surroundings think like you and agree with your views on so many things, excellent as you may view them to be.

“Social media platforms, for instance, employ AI algorithms that repetitively serve content or products based on users' preferences, limiting exposure to diverse viewpoints. This phenomenon can also occur in conversational chatbot experiences, where strong biases or one-sided information may dominate, offering limited exposure to counter viewpoints,” says Mazumdar.

“Similarly, if data bias creeps into the way we use algorithms within digital advertising, the subsequent insights will be impacted. The risk is high, but the solution is also a continuous process that should start immediately. AI/ML should be approached with the understanding of what insights to use, which trigger points we optimize for, and what target user persona we are aiming for. If we lose vision as stated above, we do run the risk of deductive data sets being repetitively used, reducing the efficiency drastically,” says Sharma.

The Exorcists

Jasani says to fix this we need to use different types of data and AI that shows different ideas. “This way, ads can be more interesting and work better. Advertisers and publishers should prioritize responsible AI usage. Regular data audits, transparency in algorithms, and continuous monitoring are key. Human oversight is essential to ensure that AI-driven ads resonate with the intended audience while respecting ethical and cultural boundaries,” he says.

In Sharma’s opinion, publishers should explore the potential of AI capabilities for fine tuning the content rather than creating it from scratch. “I would emphasize on the significance of original content which has never been more crucial and should be given due attention. The usage of original content with AI supporting the mechanism by throwing in research insights would be my recommendation.”

Mazumdar adds that subject matter experts with neutrality in mind can supervise or guide AI content creation, ensuring it remains grounded in human sensibilities. “Looking ahead, AI platforms should ideally provide tools that allow users to control the extent of AI involvement in the processing, empowering everyone to have greater control over the outcome. This balance between AI and human oversight will be vital in maintaining the impact and human touch of ads.”

Sharma also says that advertisers should have checks and balances in place to ensure user persona mapping is done accurately so that biased or inaccurate insights do not impact the overall strategy.

So while echoes are definitely growing in the void that is digital media, there is still a chance to curb that while we still have our hands on the remote.

Epilogue

Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, White Rivers Media sums it up, saying, “AI is a mixed bag in today's ad world. On one hand, it helps us pinpoint our target audience, refine our advertising campaigns, and enhance efficiency through machine-learning techniques. On the other hand, it can also steer you into an echo chamber of comparable concepts.”

“Remember, in this data-driven age, staying on top of your datasets and keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer sentiment is crucial. Use AI to craft ads that speak directly to your audience, striking that perfect balance between its advantages and pitfalls.”

 

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Urge & request media to stop speculating: Koo Founders

'We are committed to our dream of taking Koo to the world and beating the best with Indian tech,' said the founders.

By e4m Staff | Sep 18, 2023 12:25 PM   |   2 min read

Koo

After the reports that the homegrown micro-blogging platform, Koo, is actively seeking a partnership with a party possessing robust distribution capabilities, the founders have now issued a statement urging media to stop speculating.

The statement highlights that 2023 has been one of the toughest years for the startup ecosystem around the world. Funding has come to a standstill and only near breakeven or early stage startups are lucky to raise funds, that too at low valuations / heavy markdowns.

“While our stable state plan was to scale more before generating revenue, Koo too was caught in this unfortunately sour market timing and had to switch gears from a growth trajectory to a revenue generating engine. With just 6 months more on our trajectory, we would have beaten Twitter in India” read the statement.

The founders of Koo believe that from growing rapidly to cutting down on growth and proving unit economics, within 6 months of revenue experimentation, Koo took a 180 degree turn and proved that this is a real business. 

“While the market is unfavourable, we as founders are committed to our dream, of taking Koo to the world and beating the best, with Indian tech. We believe that India needs to have a seat at the table that's currently only reserved for global tech giants.”


“The next phase for Koo is to build scale and that will happen with either funding or through a strategic partnership with someone who already has scale. With the current reality of a slow investor market, the best way forward is to partner with someone who has the distribution strength to give Koo a massive user impetus and help it grow. With a platform that's scale ready, Koo can outshine competitors with the right push on growth. While we talk to the right partners to build this out, we urge and request our well wishers and friends in the media to stop speculating and be patient till we have something concrete to announce. All we can tell you is that, with all these changes, Koo will be much stronger as an organization and will make all of us proud,” it further read



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