Data and intelligence could revolutionise the content marketing ecosystem: Samar Verma

Verma, Founder & CEO, Fork Media talks about the emerging digital marketing trends, challenges and what’s in store for Fork Media this year

Samar Verma, founder and CEO, Fork Media

Over the years, Fork Media has emerged as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the ad tech space. It is India’s ad tech platform, which leverages online, mobile and video platforms, to create innovative solutions for advertisers and publishers.

The brand recently hit the 100 crore mark in the industry. Samar Verma, Founder & CEO, Fork Media spoke to exchange4media about the emerging digital marketing trends, challenges and what’s in store for Fork media this year and more.

Excerpts:  

Fork Media has emerged as one of the top ad tech firms in just 5 years, you own and manage the native platforms (Curly Tales, Mashable India, Hauterfly, IGN, Ask Men etc.) and recently hit a 100 crore mark, tell us about your journey and YoY growth? 

Our journey started five and a half years ago. While we began as a really small unit of five, we grew to a size of 100 members in 3 years and over 300 in 5 years. From a revenue standpoint, we have grown from being a 2.5 crore topline brand in the first year to 100 crores in year 5.

What started off as a plain simple native platform that delivered scale, efficiency and transparency has evolved quite a bit in the last 5 years. Today, we are Media tech entity with a strong layer of technology that sits over content. On the platform side, we help marketers overcome 3 big challenges.

  • What to create
  • How to create at scale
  • Distribution and Analytics

Our platform Brand Press is a proprietary tool that helps brands understand content trends across audience buckets from over 10000 sources including creators, influencers and media entities. Our tool Video Genie is a first of its kind that helps to automate the creation of social first Videos. On the Distribution front, we believe Brands are largely governed by demographic data and their choice of media is driven by the same.

On the Media side, we launched our first brand Curly Tales about 2 years back. We have built Curly Tales with minimal investments and in short span, Curly Tales has become the biggest and most popular hyper-local, discovery and travel brand in the country.

The model on media evolved quite a bit as we looked at other opportunities where we could subsidise the cost of customer acquisition by bringing in global brands into India and building a localized story for them. In the next year or so, we launched Mashable India and GCC, IGN India and Ask Men India.

This was followed up by the launch of another self-incubated women focussed platform called, Hauterfly. In terms of year-on-year growth, we went from 2.5 crores to 12.5 crores, the year after that was 36 crores, in 2017 was 50 crores and in 2018, we reached 100 crores. 

In a cluttered market like India, unless you don’t achieve a certain scale, you are irrelevant to the ecosystem. You must achieve that threshold that makes you relevant to the agencies and marketers in the ecosystem. Today, we are the only independent native content marketing company that offers an ecosystem approach to content and delivers scale. 

What are the emerging trends of digital media and what are the challenges that you face on an everyday basis?

We believe data and intelligence in content could revolutionise the content marketing ecosystem and put it right at the forefront in the marketing mix. Today, lack of scale, standardization and transparency limit the investments that we see in content.

We clearly see this is as a massive opportunity and while the ad dollars will still flow in for distribution, bringing data into the creation and helping scale the creation process will enable brands to have more consistent conversations with their target consumer set. Layering this further with standardised and relevant metric could potentially be a game changer. 

I forsee trends such as:

  1. Content at the core of the marketing mix. 
  2. Data-driven content creation
  3. Standardisation and scale on content.
  4. Analytics of content and how you need to tie it into your core objectives. Content is still measured with a conventional approach and unified metrics is going to be the next disruption.
  5. The blurring lines between conventional, new-age media & individual creators.    

Any expansion plans in Indian and International markets? 

Today, we operate in three regions i.e. GCC, India, and SEA. We do believe that media organisations will have to build a regional presence within India as well as there is a thriving untapped market there. Internationally, we see ourselves pushing the native platform business aggressively while in India we will continue being more Media tech. 

What's in the pipeline for Fork Media in 2019?

At a macro level, we see ourselves as taking on a much larger share of the content marketing pie in 2019. We estimate that we are currently at about 3 per cent of the market share across regions that we operate in. We have a clear goal of inching towards a 10 per cent market share over the next 24-36 months.

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