Digital has the ability to personalise content for every user: Raju Vanapala, Way2News

Vanapala, Founder, Way2News, on the hyper local news ecosystem in India and how digital technology is reaching even the remotest corners of the country

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Published: Aug 2, 2019 7:23 AM  | 4 min read
raju

India has an insatiable appetite for news. From television, to print, radio, OTT platforms and even apps, there is an endless stream of options available to the consumers today. But is mainstream media capable of delivering relevant, local news across geographical divides? The solution according to Raju Vanapala, Founder- Way2News, is a hyperlocal news ecosystem that can deliver personalized news to the consumer.

His company launched the short news mobile app around three years ago and is now focusing on reporting local events with the help of digital technology, he explains “If you look at India’s distribution of geographies, we have villages, they are assigned to mandals, and mandals to districts and districts to states. But when it comes to news, whether print or TV, they have only gone till the district level.  Smaller towns are really consuming the internet today, they have a hunger for news, and they only get what is happening in their state and the country. Only print gives 1-2 per cent coverage at mandal level and not much else. Rest is an open area. With digital we can go deep into villages with targeting etc, through our new app we thought it’s a great opportunity to reach out to the true Indian audience in their own language. So, we’ve created a hyper local platform and we are sourcing this content from stringers and also using content from users. So, citizen journalism is working out really well on our platform right now.”

High internet penetration and the increase in the number of smartphone users has helped apps such as Way2News reach their target audience in a personalized way. The app which had around 70 k  daily active users (DAU) three years back now has over 2 mn DAU. In their quest to go hyperlocal they have covered around 350 districts, and out of the 5000 odd tehsils and mandals they have been able to cover 2700.

Stressing on how digital is the only way forward for news organizations to penetrate deep into unchartered territories of the country, he says, “Traditional TV technology will never get into towns because it is a one size fits all kind of a campaign. Digital has the ability to personalize to every user, even the location varies from one user to another. One person may be in a remote location in Uttar Pradesh, one may be in Tamil Nadu. Digital can personalize on the basis of location as well, not only the interests.”

Digital technology, Raju believes, can also help deliver more personalized and relevant advertising through hyperlocal apps, “the advertising model still needs to be cracked, there are so many education institutions available, so many retail shops and businesses available in these towns and they don’t have any avenues to promote their businesses, they have relied on their print classifieds, which are not so effective. I’m sure that the emergence of hyper local news apps can actually solve this for local users."

Infact, not only local businesses but big brands also are looking for deeper penetration into regional markets and hyperlocal platforms can act as a vehicle to the larger brands. Says Raju,“Big brands today are facing numerous challenges to reach out to these audiences, they don’t have destinations available, they are relying on the traditional channels, but those channels are not giving them accurate precision targeting to reach out to the audience."

As for his own platform, their advertising model is still work in progress but context-based advertising is what he believes can work for platforms like these. “We have only started off doing several pilots on the advertising front, we haven’t opened our platform for advertising, only a few weeks back we have started reaching out to advertisers and whatever campaigns we ran so far they are working really well," he says.

Besides news coverage, apps like Way2News have been quite impactful in highlighting local issues of roads, schools etc. and putting them forward to the right authorities. Their band of citizen journalists along with their own reporters with a focus on local region-based content, Raju says, has helped them become “the largest hyperlocal news app in the country today.”

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A digital mediapalooza in the making?

Guest Column: Rahul Vengalil, ED, Everest Solutions, likens the present situation in advertising to the mid-2010s when brands went after buying efficiency by ignoring planning effectiveness

By Rahul Vengalil | Dec 6, 2022 8:22 AM   |   5 min read

Rahul Vengalil, ED, Everest Solutions

Google and Facebook together received advertising revenues of close to Rs 40,000 crore last year, which is a significant amount. This is more than the outlay in all the TV mediums together, substantially higher than what was put into the print medium as well. As a digital marketer since 2010, I should be jumping with joy looking at these numbers, but the truth is I am not. I am afraid there that we are going into an unsustainable model in the coming days. 

Digital marketing has become a much sought-after career today, from creative to media to data to whatnot. The number of youngsters who want to get into digital media, social media and content marketing has multiplied manifold of late. These are good trends, but unfortunately, I believe there is a bubble in the making. The costs have gone up substantially on one side, but the agency remuneration hasn’t gone up accordingly. If I were to put the key reason behind this, it is the democratization of digital media. 

Let’s sieve through the chaff and really look at reality. Google and Meta increased their revenue last year and are close to Rs 40,000 crore. This entire amount hasn’t been planned and bought by the media agencies in India. It is bought by agencies, influencers, mature startups, SMEs/MSMEs, and many mom-and-pop stores. As per one estimate, Meta has over 8 million active advertisers on their platform globally and a major part of its revenue comes from direct advertisers. It won't be that different in India as well. This means that the advertising budget that is handled by agencies would well be less than half of the number that is quoted everywhere. In contrast, more than 90% of offline media is bought by agencies. In a biz model that works on commission, a lesser number of people are buying almost double the media on offline channels. 

I remember a time early in my career when I was working with a marquee client in India. My retainer for being the digital creative agency was x and the retainer that my counterpart charged then for being the mainline agency was nothing less than 30x. This gap has significantly reduced over the year, but still exist. Digital or more rightly put social media has become the lead medium for every client in India today. The expectation is for every piece of content that is put up on social media to provide the brand’s POV and if possible become viral.

That’s undue pressure on the agency partner to deliver, and mind you, an agency creates everywhere between 15 creatives and 30 creatives each month, that’s a run rate of 1 per day. Compare this with what the mainline agency creates, which is 10 campaigns in a year, resulting in videos, print ads and other collaterals.

What a digital agency creates in a month a mainline agency at best creates in half a year, keeping the studio job outside of the purview for now. Companies are still not ready to create a remuneration parity between digital agencies and mainline agencies today, because the perceived notion is that the 1 TVC or print ad is significantly more important than the content that is created for social media platforms. 

Digital media is so democratized that any advertiser with a credit card can advertise today, and a bunch of friends who understand social media can create an advertising agency. My most conservative estimation is that there are over 3000 digital media agencies (creative and media together) in India today. In comparison, the number of mainline agencies would be significantly lower. The hurdles to start an offline media buying unit is high, from initial investment for tools, access, affiliation, etc in comparison to online where you just need a credit card. The challenges to start an offline creative unit is also comparatively higher compared to the online counterpart, after all, one can also create content using Canva to publish online. 

Just to reiterate, the number of people coming into digital media has increased, the costs of the resources have increased, and the number of agencies doing digital is much higher than traditional, but the amount of media bought by digital agencies has not seen a corresponding rise, the remunerations paid to digital agencies for making content is not at par with traditional agencies (barring few exceptions).

The situation is much like the media palooza of the mid-2010s where brands went after buying efficiency by ignoring planning effectiveness. When agencies are not paid equitably for the amount of time and effort that is being put on the table, the quality of the output will suffer. The conversation should move away from what’s the “best cost” to “what can you do to impact my business positively”. Alternatively, businesses can also lower the expectation from the digital partner, which I don’t think should be even on the table as an option.

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Great Learning launches #ItPaysToUpskill campaign with Virat Kohli

Kohli urges professionals to invest in upskilling as it can be the best investment in the uncertain macroeconomic conditions of today

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 7:04 PM   |   2 min read

Great Learning

Great Learning, a part of the BYJU'S group and a leading global edtech company for higher education and professional training, has launched #ItPaysToUpskill, a digital campaign highlighting the need for students and professionals to invest in upskilling to get high financial returns. The brand ambassador Virat Kohli is seen kickstarting this 360-degree digital campaign by urging professionals to invest in upskilling as it can be the best investment in the uncertain macroeconomic conditions of today.

The entire premise of this campaign is to highlight how upskilling impacts one’s income levels and how those salary increments compound over time. Hence upskilling early on in one’s career can yield tremendous returns and also help individuals meet their financial goals sooner.

“With the looming economic recession and uncertain market conditions, upskilling is one investment that carries zero risk while still providing high returns. This is showcased in the campaign through a series of quirky posts, reels and videos on the Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin handles of Great Learning,” the company said.

Speaking about the campaign, Aparna Mahesh, Chief Marketing Officer, Great Learning said, “The ever evolving nature of work and the skill gaps it creates makes upskilling an obvious choice. But it’s also a decision that is very easy to postpone as there is no instant gratification. Also, there has been no quantification of what people are leaving behind on the table by delaying decisions to invest in upskilling. To solve this, we have illustrated the monetary benefits of upskilling and how they compound over the long term. Research was carried out to curate data that revealed how upskilling in top performing domains can add immense value to people’s careers and their earning potential. The findings were summed up in the Great Learning Upskilling Financial Impact Report 2022 which together with the current market scenario resulted in the narrative that we’re putting out through this campaign.”

 

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Verve Media bags creative mandate for Bharat Alt Fuel

As per the mandate, Verve Media will employ creative strategies to create brand awareness and gain recognition for Bharat Alt Fuel

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 2:55 PM   |   1 min read

verve

Verve Media, a Mumbai based integrated digital marketing agency, has won the creative mandate for Bharat Alt Fuel. The alternative fuel company is committed to deliver renewable energy solutions by focusing on two crucial points - alternative fuels & electric vehicles.

As per the mandate, Verve Media will employ creative strategies to create brand awareness and gain recognition for Bharat Alt Fuel. The agency aims to position the brand to its target audience and communicate the brand's vision through creative content. This mandate offers a great opportunity for increasing its presence on social media platforms which will result in Bharat Alt Fuel being the most trusted and valuable initiative. 

Talking about the onboarding, Vinay Sangwan, Co-Founder at Verve Media, said, “Verve Media has always been active in collaborating with eco-conscious companies like Bharat Alt Fuel. With our plan to create new benchmarks in this category, we believe this decision would bring fruitful results. Our team looks forward to an exciting partnership with Bharat Alt Fuel. “

 

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Agencies should learn to trust the creators: Panel

Top content creators and experts at the Impact Digital Influencer Conference discussed how brands and influencers can strike the right chord

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 11:10 AM   |   2 min read

impact digital influencer conference

At the Impact Digital Influencer Conference, top content creators and industry experts convened for a panel discussion on the topic “The Jugalbandi of Brands and Influencers- striking the right chord." The panel was moderated by Satyanarayan Murthy, Head Growth Products, Inca, Motion and saw participation by Viraj Gehlani, (Content creator); Sunetro Lahiri, (Vice President creative, The Glitch); Simone Khambatta (Digital content creator); Snehil Mehra (content creator); Nishant Tanwar (standup comedian, content creator); Arushi Handa (content creator) and Shlok Srivastava (Tech influencer).

Talking as an ad maker, Lahiri noted, “When it comes to influencer marketing, I don’t think brands are not doing it right.” He thinks listening out to the influencers is important while making an ad is necessary as consumers directly connect with the influencers.

Gehlani spoke about influencers’ life, which he believes is quite hyped. He said, “I create content as my passion but don’t stress a lot about it. Audiences like our content and get connected when we keep it natural. It is very necessary to promote a brand subtly so that it doesn’t look like an ad.” Influencers’ posts and ads are different from each other.

Khambatta said, "It’s really difficult to understand what ad agencies and brands want. If they want ads or content created by the creators. Brands want to reach creators’ audience then they have to let them do it their way because no one knows their audience more than creators. Agencies will have to learn to trust the creators."

Tech influencer Shlok thinks the collaborative efforts of brands and creators produce good content. According to him his audience really looks forward to sponsored videos. He feels that creators should also realise where the brands are coming from. For him serving the audience is what matters.

Mehra, popularly known as BC aunty said, “Collaborating with brands is a great revenue model as it supports influencers financially."

Since thousands of influencers are coming up, the insecurity of losing the audience is real. On this, Handa pointed out, “We can’t change the algorithms of Instagram. What’s yours will be yours. Today, everyone has a phone and anyone can become an influencer and I can’t control it.”

Talking about brands' budgets, comedian Nishant Tanwar said, “I deal with the brands in my own ways. The behaviour of the person from the agencies matters a lot. I adjust prices according to that.”

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From Web 3.0 to Metaverse: 10 digital trends that defined 2022

The digital landscape evolved rapidly in 2022 as the pandemic drove communities and businesses online. exchange4media tracks down top key trends in the digital landscape this year

By Kanchan Srivastava | Dec 5, 2022 8:44 AM   |   8 min read

digital trends

In the rapidly evolving world of digital trends, every year brings something new and exciting for consumers and marketers. The year 2022 saw many such trends that captured our imagination, from the promise of Metaverse to the impending Web 3.0. The year also saw the implosion of cryptocurrency and the emergence of connected TV as avenue for marketers and media planners.

In this edition of e4m's year-enders, we list down the top 10 trends from the digital world that rocked 2022.

1. Digital ad spend 

India’s digital ad revenue remained the talk of the town for the entire year. 

Two tech giants Google India and Meta India-pocketed more than Rs 41,000 crore in 2021-22 through online ads. E-commerce players Amazon India and Flipkart also clocked nearly Rs 7,000 crore in ad money together, taking the cumulative Indian revenue of Meta, Google, Amazon and Flipkart to Rs 48,000 crore.  

This is much higher than the predictions made by the leading agencies earlier this year. Although the reports and predictions had different timelines, experts believe that digital ad spend could be at an all-time high this year riding on the growth of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), perhaps even surpassing the ad spend on TV.  

TAM report for Q1 and Q2 of FY23 however paints a different picture. It indicates digital ad insertion has declined by 13% compared to the Jan-March quarter.  

“The growth rate has declined, but digital ad spend has continued its growth in 2022 s as India’s economic outlook appears to be stronger relative to other markets,” says Atique Kazi, President - Data, Performance & Digital Products, GroupM India.  

GroupM’s ‘This Year Next Year’ end-of-the-year report pegs that digital advertising revenue in India accounts for the largest share (48.8%) in 2022 and is expected to continue rising above pre-pandemic levels. Retail media in India is forecast at $551 million in 2022.  

2. Data privacy law 

Data privacy debates rocked the country throughout the year mainly due to rising data breach cases and stringent laws in the European Union and other developed countries. India has close to 760 million internet users.  

After much pressure, the government of India has finally come out with a revamped Data Protection Bill that seeks to allow companies to transfer some users' data abroad, while giving the federal government powers to exempt state agencies in the interests of national security.  

The Bill also proposes financial penalties of up to $30 million fine for breaching the provisions of the law. 

The revised Bill came after India withdrew a 2019 privacy bill in August this year. It alarmed companies by proposing stringent restrictions on cross-border data flows. The proposed law would be the latest regulation that could impact how tech giants such as Facebook and Google process and transfer data in India's fast-growing digital market. 

3. Connected TV advertising 

Connected TVs number this year crossed 10 million in India, according to a FICCI-EY report for 2022. With the rapid growth of CTV and its young users, it has emerged as a touchpoint of interest for marketers and media planners to effectively reach out to their audiences.

It is rapidly emerging as an ideal medium for brands to directly target their audiences. With connected TV, brands are able to advertise on the large screen and at the same enjoy the benefits of digital advertising, like targeting, measurement and interactivity.

Although connected TV advertising is in its nascent stage in India and the platform lacks effective measurement tools, brands have started to advertise on the platform this year. 

Prabhvir Sahmey, Senior Director-India and South East Asia, Samsung Ads, assures, “As we look to the next generation of audience measurement, large first-party data sets from Smart TVs will likely play a key role around not only measurement but also planning and optimisation.”

4. Short-videos

The Indian short-form video market set off on a strong growth trajectory in 2022, thanks to the Indian government’s ban on TikTok in 2020. 

“The void was quickly filled by global giants YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels besides home-grown platforms like Moj, Josh, MX TakTaka, Chingari among others”, says Sajal Gupta, Digital Marketing Specialist, Chief Executive Kiaos Marketing. 

With a 300 million active user base, short-form video platforms have witnessed a surge in content consumption this year.  

RedSeer predicted in 2021 that short-video platforms will overtake over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms in terms of content consumption in 2022.

Indian short-video apps alone see a $19 billion monetisation opportunity by 2030, according to a Redseer report. 

5. Metaverse

During 2022 it was hard to move without bumping into the term "metaverse”, especially following Facebook’s rebranding into Meta at the end of 2021. Metaverse enabled a myriad of new opportunities for the digital and physical worlds to converge. 

Leading advertisers like Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tanishq, Mondelez and MakeMyTrip, set the tone by leveraging the virtual space to create their own Shoppe in the metaverse. 

The craze that started at the beginning of the year during the Omicron wave appears to have somewhat fizzled out later. 

Rubeena Singh, outgoing country manager, Josh, says, “Metaverse has immense potential and people are yet to explore the space fully.”

It is predicted to add $5 trillion to the value of the global economy by 2030, and 2023 is likely to be a key year for defining the direction it will take.

6. Social Commerce 

Brands and retailers strategized around social commerce—creating content designed to show off products in an entertaining and visually appealing way so that it’s shared widely across social media. 

Integrations with Shopify and other payment platforms made it easier for brands and influencers to set up shop on social media. 

Besides, Influencers were roped in for performance marketing. With coupon codes, their followers purchased online with influencers counting their cut in their wallet. 

7. Micro and Nano-influencers

Content creators with smaller followings than film actors and celebrities emerged as the strategic play in the influencer marketing world in 2022.

According to the latest INCA-e4m Influencer Marketing Report 2022, the industry grew to touch Rs 1,275 crore in India this year and is likely to grow by 25% CAGR for the next five years. 

The popularity of influencers, especially nano- and micro-influencers, grew phenomenally to an extent that they were more trusted than celebrities across the board by consumers and there is more willingness to try a product on the basis of influencer recommendation vis-a-vis celebrity recommendation, the report highlights. 

8. Crypto downfall

The cryptocurrency market plunged to a new low every day in 2022. It all started after the Luna-Terra fiasco early this year, followed by Bitcoin and then many others. 

Crypto markets crashed further following the Indian government’s announcement to impose a 30 per cent tax on earnings from crypto trading in the budget, which was implemented in April. 

November 2022 was a month that investors watched in horror as FTX, the multi-billion-dollar crypto exchange, imploded. Soon afterwards, other leading crypto firms were inundated with requests from customers seeking to claw their money back — the crypto equivalent of a run on the bank. 

Several firms have been forced to suspend withdrawals while they sort out their liquidity problems.

9. Web 3.0

While many tech messiahs like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have expressed their doubts over Web 3.0, leading marketers are calling it the future of the internet and democratization of ownership of media, information and the way companies, consumers and content interact with each other.

Many started working on developing Web 3.0 systems, touting its benefits to consumers and a way for brand interaction sans the middlemen. 

Unlike Web 1.0, which comprised largely static web pages and Web 2.0 as it exists today, Web 3.0 is based on blockchain technology, with a potential decentralized ecosystem that will allow users to break away from the control of tech giants like Alphabet, Meta, and the rest of “big tech”, thereby bringing down the “walled gardens” of closed internet platforms.

Web 3.0 helps us design intelligent interfaces that are more user-friendly, highly personalized, increasingly adaptable, and easily shareable, with heightened security and privacy. 

10. First-party data

Third-party cookies have acted as a catalyst for advertisers, who invest heavily in digital, to understand who their consumers are, what their preferences are, and where they are located, to target them with precision. Google is gearing up to eliminate third-party cookies in its Chrome browser by 2023. 

Since Google Chrome holds the largest market share in terms of browsing in India, a large number of marketers started investing in first-party data this year. 

Sajal Gupta says, “Huge investments are required in collecting the first-party data. Then there are recurring costs associated with the data as consumers grow over the years and their preferences and requirements also change accordingly. For B2B entities, first party data collection would be tricky.”

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Jahid Ahmed promoted to SVP and Head of Digital Marketing, HDFC Bank

Ahmed has been associated with HDFC Bank for close to eight years.

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 4, 2022 4:20 PM   |   1 min read

Jahid Ahmed

Jahid Ahmed has been promoted to SVP and Head of Digital Marketing, HDFC Bank.

Ahmed has been associated with HDFC Bank for close to eight years, he joined HDFC Bank in 2015 as Assistant Vice President and Head, Digital Marketing.

"It has been such a pleasure to work and grow along with the bank's emphatic digital growth story, truly making it a great place to work”,  Ahmed wrote on LinkedIn.

He has over 14 years of experience in the BFSI sector and has been instrumental in institutionalising Data driven Digital Campaigns, Mar-Tech and Transformation set ups across various BFSI organisations. 

In his previous role at HDFC Bank, Ahmed was heading Digital and Content Marketing at HDFC Bank where he looked after Online Acquisition ,Website innovation, Analytics, Social Media listening and Content marketing.

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ShareChat shuts down fantasy sports platform Jeet11, lays off 5% of employees

As per the statement to e4m, it has reorganised its functions and moved some of the employees within teams

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 2, 2022 5:21 PM   |   1 min read

jeet11

Indian social media startup ShareChat has shut down its fantasy sports platform Jeet11 laying off some employees.

The company reportedly sent an email to its affected employees last month. Jeet11 was launched in 2020. 

Confirming the development, a ShareChat spokesperson told e4m, “As a standard business practice, we periodically evaluate our strategies. We can confirm that we are ceasing operations of Jeet11 and have reorganized some of our functions, which meant the movement of this talent within teams and a few employee exits. This process has impacted less than 5% of our employees.”

We continue to focus on robust growth and hiring across various functions and roles as per our plans, the spokesperson added. 

He further stated, “To succeed as India’s fastest-growing social media company, we assess our strategy regularly and make necessary changes to achieve our vision.”

The startup has a total workforce of around 2,300 employees. That means the collapse of the platform has impacted over 100 people.

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