Facebook accused of using people’s data to favour certain partners

The allegation has been made by a British parliamentary committee that is investigating online misinformation

exchange4media Staff 1 week ago

facebook logo

Facebook has been accused of using user data to favour certain partners by giving them access to its platform while cutting off others. This was claimed by a British parliamentary committee that is investigating online misinformation, according to media reports.

The reports claim that the committee released internal Facebook emails and other documents to establish the charge. The documents pertains to the period from 2012 to 2015.

The documents reportedly show that Facebook treated data as the company’s “most valuable resource” and used it for its advantage. It has been claimed that Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg were involved in such decisions.

The release of the internal documents will add to Facebook’s woes. The social media giant is already grappling with issues of privacy and spread of misinformation. 

Facebook, meanwhile, issued a statement, saying that the documents had been selectively chosen to be embarrassing and misleading as part of a “baseless” lawsuit. 

“Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform,” media reports quoted the company as saying. “But the facts are clear: We’ve never sold people’s data.”

Zuckerberg posted his response on Facebook, saying the company had limited its access to certain apps and made other changes to prevent abuse of its platform.

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Vodafone, Sony Pictures join hands to help 10 million youths access digital skills

The two will leverages movie ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ to introduce Vodafone’s Future Job Finder programme

exchange4media Staff 10 seconds ago


Vodafone and Sony Pictures have announced a groundbreaking global collaboration, which sees them uniting to help millions of young people in 20 countries identify their skills and find digital jobs that match them.


They will use December’s hotly anticipated movie release Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to introduce young people to Vodafone’s free Future Jobs Finder, a gamified digital platform to help them understand their skills and future career opportunities. The initiative was developed as part of Vodafone’s global programme, What will you be?, which has committed to support 10 million young people to access digital skills, learning and employment opportunities by 2022. This skilling programme is live in India and aims to empower youth as they embrace the digital transformation and chart a digital career.


A global digital campaign to support the Sony Pictures and Vodafone collaboration - leading people to Future Jobs Finder - will draw on the movie’s central theme: that anyone can achieve their full potential with the right skills and support.


Andre Seddoh, Vice President International Marketing Partnerships at Sony Pictures, said: “We are so excited about this visually groundbreaking movie, as for the first time we open up a different Spider-Man universe - known as the Spider-Verse - where more than one can wear the mask. Within this world we introduce Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales, who like many young people preparing to leap into the next stage of their lives, is struggling to find out who he is and what he is meant to be. By teaming up with Vodafone we can engage with audiences using the inspirational power of this game-changing movie while also helping Vodafone to connect young people with digital jobs and free digital skills training.”


Joakim Reiter, Director of External Affairs at Vodafone Group, said: “Our ambition is to help 10 million young people to access digital skills, learning and employment opportunities and our partnership with Sony Pictures will help us accelerate our progress towards this goal by bringing our digital platform, Future Jobs Finder, to more young people who are thinking about their future career. Future Jobs Finder has been specifically designed to help young adults make a connection between their skills and digital careers they may never have thought of. Together we can harness the power of technology, and the excitement around the movie, to engage with young people to help them realise their potential and play a role in closing the digital skills gap.”


Seddoh added: “One of the great moments in the movie is when Peter Parker says to Miles “Don’t do it like me, do it like you,” and this is what we want everyone to take away from this movie and use as inspiration to fulfil their own destiny.” 


Since launching in March this year, more than 300,000 young people have completed Vodafone’s Future Jobs Finder tool, introducing them to over a million digital job types. The online platform takes people through a series of short tests, developed with psychologists, careers experts and training providers, to identify their skills and interests. By responding to these questions, young people can understand where their potential lies and find live local job opportunities in multiple digital industries which are matched to their skills, as well as access relevant, free digital skills training.



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Google India launches shopping search platform

Google has also expanded the Merchant Center to Hindi

exchange4media Staff 1 hour ago


Google on Thursday unveiled a new and immersive shopping search experience for Indian users. The new personalised experience will allow users to easily filter through offers, review prices from multiple retailers and find the products they are looking for. This experience is available across several Google products: a made-to-browse experience on the Shopping home page, the Shopping tab on Google Search and in Google Lens. For retailers, Google has expanded the Merchant Center to Hindi.


The new ‘Shopping Homepage’ is a made-to-browse destination for shoppers to search across multiple product categories, and browse products from thousands of retailers. To make the shopping experience richer, smart features like price drops and a collection of the most popular products on Google have been added. The experience will also be available as a Progressive Web App (PWA) for users with entry level phones.


The ‘Shopping Tab’ in Google Search will allow users to post queries in Hindi and English and show product lists, local store inventory and review prices from across multiple retailers.


Finally, Style Search in Google Lens is an all-new visual approach to find products such as clothes, furniture, and home decor, by simply pointing the Lens app.


Talking about the launch of the new experience, Surojit Chatterjee, Vice President -Product Management, Google, said, “More than 40 million Indians are coming online every year, and search is an integral part of their online journey. From seasoned desktop shoppers to first-time users with entry-level smartphones, we hope this new shopping experience will make finding what people are looking for just a little bit easier.”


For retailers, Merchant Center has always been the place to upload store and product data for shopping ads. So far, the Merchant Center has been only available in English, and starting today it is expanding to Hindi. Retailers can now also use Merchant Center to upload product details so they can appear across Google, without paying for ad campaigns.


Speaking about the offerings for retailers, Chatterjee said, “With this launch, our aim is to support the entire retail ecosystem, from shopping sites and large retailers to small local shops, and give them the tools, technology and scale to thrive in today’s digital economy.”

According to the Sixth Economic Census, there are 58 million SMBs in India of which 35 per cent are engaged in retail trade. However, a very small number of them have an online presence -- clearly highlighting a huge opportunity for retailers to surface their merchandize to the millions of online consumers. 

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AppsFlyer appoints Nikhil Parachure as Director - Solutions

Parachure brings over 11 years of experience with specific expertise in mobile and digital marketing, marketing automation, mobile analytics, web analytics and business intelligence

exchange4media Staff 5 hours ago


AppsFlyer, the global leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics, has announced the appointment of Nikhil Parachure as Director - Solutions Architect for the India market. In this role, Nikhil will primarily be responsible for providing insights that shape the marketing strategies of AppsFlyer’s clients, as well as advise enterprise businesses and educate the market how to leverage AppsFlyer’s technology, products and service to address mobile and marketing challenges. Nikhil will also drive the Customer Success functions and work closely with various internal and external stakeholders, enabling businesses to develop strategies that will enable AppsFlyer’s clients to achieve new levels of growth.

Parachure brings over 11 years of experience with specific expertise in mobile and digital marketing, marketing automation, mobile analytics, web analytics and business intelligence. Prior to joining AppsFlyer, Nikhil was the founder of Measur-ed, a measurement and revenue consulting company. He has also held senior roles at Ajio, Myntra, and Iprospect India. He will be based in Bengaluru, India, and report to Sanjay Trisal, Country Manager for AppsFlyer in India.

AppsFlyer has witnessed tremendous growth in India since establishing its office in 2015 with a headcount of under ten, and continues to expand its team and dedicate significant resources for empowering brands, marketers, and app creators in India to grow domestically and beyond. Today it is the market leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics with five times the number of employees than when it first started. AppsFlyer’s business has grown by three times year-on-year over the past three consecutive years, while acquiring new clients in every vertical.

Growth highlights between 2017 and 2018:

  • App installs measured - 73% increase
  • In-app events measured - 331% increase
  • Number of apps running in India: 19% increase
  • Media spend measured - 277% increase

Speaking on the development, Sanjay Trisal, Country Manager, India, AppsFlyer, said, “AppsFlyer’s strong emphasis on hiring, marketing, sales, support, and product management are part of our commitment to the India market, which continues to offer us opportunities through its growth and development. We can only measure our success based on our clients’ success, and Nikhil brings to his role a depth of experience and insights from customer perspectives in the area of mobile and digital marketing. We believe he is well-placed to support our team in helping AppsFlyer achieve success for its customers in India.”

AppsFlyer owns 75% of the market share and works with over 250 clients in India, 94% of which comprise leading industry players across Telco, OTT, eCommerce, and News. In addition, AppsFlyer is the most trusted partner in India’s BFSI, video OTT and entertainment sector. Some of AppsFlyer’s clients include Airtel, Paytm, Vodafone-Idea, Hotstar, ICICI and more.

Globally, AppsFlyer previously raised US$56 million for its series C round in January 2017, which brought its total funding to US$84 million. Since then, it has planted its roots firmly in Asia, investing heavily in new offices and hiring while obtaining an impressive regional market share of 80%. The company also surpassed $100 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) in the third quarter of 2018, growing at 100% every 12 months.

Driving the company’s revenue growth are the 85,000 apps whose marketers use AppsFlyer’s products and services, propelling the company to over 70% market share worldwide. In the past year, AppsFlyer has continued to form partnerships with many prominent global brands, including eBay, NBCUniversal, Adidas, Hyundai, Coca-Cola, Times Internet, Grab and ByteDance.

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Biggest Trends of 2018 - The Year of Digital Becoming Mainstream

Guest Column: Sahil Shah, VP Operations & Media - South and West, WATConsult, on the top digital trends of 2018 that took India into full gear

Sahil Shah 9 hours ago

sahil shah

It’s the best time of the year and how. Well on one side it’s everybody’s favorite month; December! And on the other, it’s because of a fantastic year that’s passing us by.

Clearly, much has happened for digital in India over the last one year and a lot needs to be spoken about. In my view, it’s been a key year that has changed the course of digital by starting to impact the lives of over half a billion Indians (truly going mainstream!). But no, I am not here to talk about how the JIO revolution democratized data costs to build more connected consumers or the rise of affordable smartphones that’s pretty much scaled adoption to 350 MN+ Indians. Instead, I am going to talk about some key trends that have emerged in 2018 due to these industry defining shifts in adoption and scale of digital.


Here the top digital trends of 2018 that took India into full gear:


Rise of Bharat

Digital in India has grown to nearly 500 MN users with almost 40% coming from rural India. Which means 200 MN audiences in India, mostly media dark, is a brand new audience a digital marketer can start addressing as a function of “growth hacking” through digital. Both voice searches (400% rise) as well as vernacular language adoption (higher than English, already) have had considerable scale too. To top it all, only 22% of rural India accesses Internet in terms of penetration leaving a huge room for growth and building the next 300 MN heavily through rural India.


Quick Fact: Bihar is the highest YouTube watching state in India by time-spent which only proves that there is going to be steady rise in vernacular content, no. of rural users and heavy video consumption.


Video, Video & More Video

This is no surprise in the almost free data world that we are living in. YouTube has reached a billion home page impressions in a day, Instagram recently launched IGTV for long form vertical video content and Facebook introduced an optional “video only” newsfeed. All of this triggered due to consumers tilting towards video watching more than anything else on the internet. OTT players saw more than double digit growth in all event/show formats, live & non live. The biggies of OTT world; Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, etc. have started to see immense amount of growth in regional language video content over English; due to huge dearth + demand of/for it. So comfortably video has arrived and is here to stay for the long term.


Apps Breaking the Internet

The app world is continuing to surprise us with more and more apps getting adopted by Indians daily. While there are some functional apps, some flash in the pan ones and some niche ones solving specific problems; the year of 2018 highlighted two big apps sitting right in the top 10 lists of almost every young mobile user in India. First one being, TikTok (previously known as musical.ly) built on content off the people, for the people and by people model and the second one was an addictive social gaming app called PUBG. These two struck chords of millions of young Indians and is on every marketers target list to consider.


Digital Transformation

A lot of introspection has started to happen inside the walls of various (small and large) businesses. Brands that have grown doing digital marketing is a passé now; 2018 was the year when digitization and digitalization took the driver’s seat. How do you win the customer in a digital first world by harnessing the power of data is the key question. And for this reason, businesses have started to rethink their models and automate processes to become more agile and deliver better. There are many industries that are experiencing transformation; right from consumer appliances to healthcare to education and even agriculture. In the years to come, we will start to see the impact of it all for other industries to follow.


Digital Commerce

India’s e-commerce industry has continued to evolve over the last one year. The FMCG & Food industry has gone completely hyperlocal with same day or even 2 hour delivery formats while the retail industry is going through an“omnichannel experience” transformation for a customer. There is a steady rise in non-cash payments that’s been built through assisted e-commerce practices. Digital payments is a segment, everyone from banks to technology companies are targeting as the upside is huge and 2018 was the year when it has started to see considerable growth at scale.


Data Driven Decisions

In today’s time every marketer is looking at building her/his brand through digital as a key marketing and commerce channel. 2018 was the year when data started getting used to a fuller potential in order to take better marketing decisions. For e.g., Flipkart created a record breaking 3 MN video ads by using 200 audience signals for their Big Billion Sale. This just shows the scale and breadth of how data is started to put to use. An increasing number of brands are shifting focus from platform buying to audience buying and 2018 saw a big rise with clients, agencies and publishers all working towards the same goal.

All these trends and much more would not have been possible if digital in India did not grow at the pace it has and through the relentless efforts of publishers, agencies, clients as well as the governmentto adapt to digital in an ever evolving form, making it truly mainstream in India. There’s a lot to work on for the future in the field of digital where predictive marketing, voice (rural & urban), AI, blockchain, AR/VR, robotics, etc.will start to break new grounds. I am no Nostradamus to predict where India will go from here but I do know it will quickly catch up on advanced digitization and digitalization of every kind to become the front runners on digital in the world in the years to come.


(The author is VP Operations & Media - South and West, WATConsult)


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

VP Operations & Media - South and West, WATConsult

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Cognizant to acquire New York-based creative content agency, Mustache

The acquisition will expand Cognizant Interactive’s digital content capabilities, adding video development and distribution

exchange4media Staff 1 day ago


Cognizant has announced it is acquiring Mustache, a privately-held creative content agency based in Brooklyn, NY, known for its innovative approach to planning, producing and distributing compelling video content and programming. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019 subject to satisfaction of certain closing conditions. Financial details were not disclosed.

Founded in 2010, Mustache specializes in creating award-winning original and branded content for digital, broadcast and social mediums, all increasingly important for marketers. An April 2018 study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that nearly 60 percent of marketers’ digital ad budgets today are allocated to video alone, and spending continues to rise.

Mustache’s capabilities extend across the content creation continuum, from developing concepts through to production, post-production, and distribution services. Mustache’s TV business unit is widely recognized for its expertise in long format video development, including the “Most Expensivest” reality series created for Viceland. The agency is also recognized for its integrated campaigns across a range of industries, including tech, tourism, beauty and television marketing. Mustache’s clients include leading edge brands such as: A&E Networks, Brand USA, Google, Grammarly, L'Oréal, Netflix, and Viceland.

Upon the close of the acquisition, Mustache’s team of content experts -- including creative directors, strategists, art directors, writers, producers, animators, graphic designers, video editors, and post production specialists -- will become part of Cognizant Interactive.

Speaking about the acquisition,  Donna Tuths, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Cognizant Interactive, said, “CMOs are looking for a single-source, at-scale provider to help them with the capabilities they need to win in the experience economy."

She continued, “Creating engaging content remains a singular challenge due to the demands of ‘always on’ social media channels – especially when it comes to video. With the addition of Mustache, Cognizant Interactive is even better positioned to fill this need.”

Tuths added, “We look forward to welcoming the Mustache team to Cognizant Interactive. These highly-skilled content specialists and the rich expertise they bring will set us apart in our ability to provide a complete range of digital content services, particularly long format video, which we know is increasingly driving consumer engagement and purchase decisions.”

“Mustache was born of the conviction that brands need to connect and engage with their customers more authentically, and the best way to do that is through honest, compelling, and provocative content,” said John Limotte, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Executive Creative Director, Mustache. “By joining forces with Cognizant, we can leverage their deep resources and geographic reach to scale our capabilities more quickly and effectively to provide clients with more comprehensive solutions — marrying our content and creative with their cutting-edge technology and analytics to create a powerful, forward-looking, full-service model. We are particularly drawn to the global agency network developed under Cognizant Interactive, and the leading position they’ve taken on applied innovation and on solving clients’ challenges with what they call a ‘human-centered’ approach. We look forward to combining our strengths with Cognizant to deliver great results for clients.”

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US hearing: Google CEO Sundar Pichai questioned on data, content, China search engine

Sundar Pichai testified before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Wednesday

exchange4media Staff 1 day ago


Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai on Wednesday testified before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. The hearing was titled, ‘Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices”, and was led by Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

According to media reports, during the hearing, which lasted for more than three hours, US lawmakers questioned Pichai on a host of issues, including political bias, tracking users, content moderation and a China search engine.

Pichai reportedly opened the session saying that as an American company, Google cherishes the values and freedoms that have allowed it to grow and serve so many users. He said the company works and will continue to work with the government to keep the country safe and secure.  

On being questioned about Google’s plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, Pichai reportedly said that at the moment there is no plan to launch a search engine in China. He, however, did not fully deny the possibility. “If we ever approach a decision like that, I will be fully transparent regarding this, including with policy makers,” he reportedly said.

The lawmakers then question Pichai if Google's search results were politically biased. Pichai replied, saying that the search results were based on algorithm and were not influenced by any bias.

“Users also look to us to provide accurate, trusted information. We work hard to ensure the integrity of our products, and we’ve put a number of checks and balances in place to ensure they continue to live up to our standards. I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” he was quoted as saying by some media reports.

Pichai was also asked if Google could track the location of an individual. He replied that Google did have access to users’ basic information, but the company keeps track of how that data is being used.

The CEO also faced questions on the kind of content being allowed on the platform. Pichai said that “this is an area we acknowledge there’s more work to be done.” He shared that the company gets around 400 hours of video every minute on YouTube and agreed that it is their responsibility to check the kind of content that is allowed.

Another question that Pichai faced was why US President Donald Trump’s photos appear in Google Search when one searches for the word ‘idiot’.

Pichai’s reply was that Google relies on several parameters when a search result shows up, and it is not one factor that determines rankings.

“Things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best search results for that query,” he reportedly said, adding that Google does not manually intervene in search results.

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Over 66 lakh tweets on state polls recorded from Oct to Dec

Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi most discussed leaders

exchange4media Staff 1 day ago


While the elections in five states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram were fought fiercely on the ground, social media turned out to be no less a battleground for political parties and their supporters.

Twitter saw more than 66 lakh tweets related to the elections from India as well as across the world between October 1 and December 11, 2018.

“#ElectionsOnTwitter saw more than 66 lakh tweets as people across India and the world discussed #AssemblyElections2018 held in the states of Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Telangana,” read a tweet from Twitter India.


Among the leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi had the maximum mentions. Other leaders who were discussed most on Twitter are BJP President Amit Shah, BJP leader and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and SP leader and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.


Further, between October and December, 2018, the top conversation topics for #AssemblyElection2018 on Twitter revolved around rural economy; religion and caste; EVM & vote tampering; dynastic politics and corruption.

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2019 will be the year of regional content: Tarun Katial, ZEE5

The CEO of ZEE5 on the consumption drivers, reception towards region-specific subscription packs in 2018, partnerships and how 2019 will only get bigger

Madhuwanti Saha 1 day ago


2018 has been a rather action-packed year for ZEE5 and the upcoming year or two will only see things getting bigger and better for ZEEL’s OTT platform with more investments being pushed in that direction. Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of ZEEL, had mentioned earlier in one of his interviews that the streaming service is their next big bet when it comes to investment and cornering incremental and additional viewers. With increasing investment he is expecting the business to break even in three to five years.

Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5, talks to exchange4media about the future plans and how the past year has been for the OTT platform, including the reception, region specific subscription pack and original content.

Watch the video or continue reading:


Innovative pricing
Apart from bringing in regional content, ZEE5 played around with the pricing and introduced special subscription packs for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada audience. This enables users to access premium language content at half the price (Rs 49/month).
Katial shared that the reception to these region specific packs has been ‘great’ as they are offering live TV, regional original content, digital movie premieres and early access to regional shows even before TV. “So it’s a healthy bouquet of content with lot of depth for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada consumers. After South, we will take a break for a quarter and go East,” revealed Katial.  
2018 saw original regional content really taking off with OTT players eyeing growth from tier II and III cities. But that, says Katial, was just the tip of the iceberg. “2019 will be the actual year of language (regional) content, the big proliferation of original content and digital movies in India. The uptake of original content will move 3-4 times,” he said.

Katial also mentioned the launch of a premium brand around ZEE5. "It’s in the process of being created. SVOD section will be branded separately. It’s a different experience than AVOD subset. Several features will be added to it."

Content game strong

Right from its launch, ZEE5 has kept its content game strong especially for originals and movie acquisition. It came out with 15 originals across six languages including the big-budget ‘Karenjit Kaur’ and big digital premieres of popular titles such as Mulk, Parmanu, Stree and Veere Di Wedding. The strategy of movie premieres particularly worked as it was one of the major consumption drivers.  
It’s now looking to launch over 90 originals in FY2019 and reach 150+ digital premiers in the next 18 months. Katial mentioned that audience sees value in original content as it’s a big differentiator. This explains the deep investment. “Original movies did well, case in point being ‘Tiger’ (Emraan Hashmi) We have ‘Rangbaaz’ coming up next month with Saqib Saleem which is as big as ‘Karenjit Kaur’ for us. Then there will be big original shows in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi. We will amp up in 2019. A slate of 40-50 big shows will come up over the next two quarters,” Katial added.
AVOD is not getting overshadowed as Katial sees TV shows and their characters being big drivers. “We have content beyond the general shows like character journeys and best scenes. Lot of content is created outside the core content. We will continue to invest behind that as well.”

"Language original content, shows around specific themes and relevant topics will continue to resonate well with Indian consumers. You will see off-take in subscription," says Katial.

Like any other OTT streaming platform, ZEE5 hasn’t left any stone unturned to reach the consumer.  This goes beyond the regular tie-ups with telecom service providers, digital wallets and smart TVs. For instance, for travel start-up RailYatri customers, ZEE5 had introduced a sachet subscription which gets bundled with the bookings. Similar partnerships with Oyo, MakeMyTrip and RedBus among others are aimed at travel-loving consumers by offering them discounts. “Sachet consumers come for a short period of time and want entertainment on the go.”

All this and more is definitely working as the ZEE5 app garnered 41.3 million Monthly Active Users in Sep’18, a whopping 190% growth since Apr’18, according to data provided by ZEE5. And they have just about begun.



Madhuwanti reports on marketing, OTT and radio with a focus on trends. Based in Mumbai, she has worked across lifestyle, culture, television and retail industry.

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Learning a thing or two from the Mumbai Police about upping the Social Media game

Sunchika Pandey Group Director, Citizen Initiatives & Government division, Gozoop, tells us how she built the social profile for the Mumbai Police Department step by step

Venkata Susmita Biswas 1 day ago

mumbai police

Lately, the woman behind the famed Mumbai Police department’s Twitter handle (@MumbaiPolice) finds herself catching up on the latest binge-worthy shows, viral memes and Twitter trends whenever she finds the time. 

From Game of Thrones and Stranger Things to Twitter memes like GharSeNikalTeHi, Sunchika Pandey and her team is thinking content round the clock and tries to never miss a social media opportunity for the Mumbai Police. Over the last three years, the Mumbai Police Department’s Twitter handle has become every Mumbaikar’s go-to channel for latest updates on law and order related happenings in the city, to register complaints, all while being treated to social media memes on the side. The social media strategy is a prime example for consumer facing brands that are trying to establish a strong social media presence.  

Seeing Content Everywhere
Content has become a state of mind for the Mumbai Police social media team. "If I see a glass lying around on the table, I wonder how to use it as content!" she says. But she is not cued into all the millenial themes and trends, so she generally gets all her references checked with her team of youngsters. "But now I am also watching all the popular shows,” confesses Pandey, who is the Group Director of its Citizen Initiatives & Government division at independent digital agency, Gozoop. 

It’s not just Pandey, even the policemen who run the Twitter operations for the department have begun looking at the world around them through the lens of “content.” This is the result of the Mumbai Police department’s innovative attempt at reaching out to the citizens of Mumbai through the micro-blogging platform three years ago. 

Every brand is talking the language of content, and there is no reason the Mumbai Police should be found lagging. “What ticks with the readers now-a-days is content. Content that is quirky, trendy, timeless, resonating... the list goes on. Mumbai Police has ticked all the boxes. Messages about safety, social & traffic discipline, celebration, respect for martyrs, cyber security, and all such occasions are so very well weaved into different engaging formats of content. By default you end up consuming these pieces and the point is driven home,” says Shekhar Mhaskar, EVP Isobar India, decoding the success of the Mumbai Police's social media game.

“The first tweet we ever put out was : Why should the police station be the only place where we meet? Let’s meet here every day,” recollects Pandey. Hers and her team’s efforts to make the police department more approachable and less fearful for the citizens has earned the department the moniker Meme-bai Police and Amul of Government departments.

Response Engenders Trust 

Hidden under the satirical content and prompt informative responses from the department is a lesson for all marketers who are trying to create a social media persona for their brands. To Pandey the lesson is very simple: a clear vision plus knowledge of target audience complemented by fulfilment of brand promise = success. 

Even Pandey knows this is easier said than done. Social media handles of most consumer facing companies are inundated with complaints from disgruntled consumers every day. These complaints are mostly met with automated responses that only irk consumers further. 

“There are instances when a disgruntled consumer feels a loss of trust with the brand because of a negative experience and cannot be assuaged by following documented response matrices. This is where a brand can elevate itself to the next level of sophistication – with their ability to humanise interactions and setting up of strong internal processes that speak with different departments to effectively act upon their customer commitments,” says Sakshi Arora, Strategy Director, Digitas India. 

Anticipating the citizen outpouring, at least eight policemen and two senior police officers monitor the Mumbai Police and Police Commissioner’s Twitter handles at any given point. The policemen monitor the tweets and direct messages sent to these two handles until 3-4am every day. “The clear mandate when we started out was that we must respond to every single tweet,” Pandey says. 

Kidding, but seriously...

The mission of the Mumbai Police was to utilise Twitter as yet another touchpoint where the department could interact with the citizens. “It was not in our plan to make it iconic in the way that it has become,” says Pandey with humility. 

“We wanted to make people smile and that’s how we thought about using humour in our posts.” At the same time as the Twitter handle of the police department the content had to always adhere to a certain high moral and ethical code. “As Mumbai Police we needed to maintain the dignity of the officers and the uniform. That is why we chose satire.”

Mumbai Police has resonated with the citizens of Mumbai by “challenging the status quo on the type of online personality an administrative body should have,” says Arora. This dark humour coupled with healthy engagement with citizens gives Mumbai Police its clutter breaking social presence and huge organic following. 

“Brands typically monitor their social media handles but worry that saying something edgy will get them trolled. Typically BFSI, healthcare, and B2B brands are uncomfortable about using humour on social channels. But the Mumbai Police is okay with taking a stance and even responding to citizens. Now the mental impression of Mumbai Police has improved because of the social media presence of the department,” says Siddharth Hegde, MD & Founder, Ethinos Digital Marketing. 

All of these factors have made Mumbai Police a social media case study that other police departments across the country have begun to emulate. The Bangalore and Kolkata City Police engage with their citizens on social media very successfully. "Even the UP Police has launched a Twitter account and that has helped the department improve its image," quips Pandey. As the  Group Director of its Citizen Initiatives & Government division at Gozoop, Pandey wishes to work with more government bodies, helping them engage in a healthy manner with citizens. 

Susmita is a digital marketing reporter at exchange4media. She writes on latest developments in the ever-changing world of digital media and in-depth stories on all things advertising.

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Sir Martin Sorrell has plans to buy agencies in India

Sorrell is keenly interested in agencies in content, data, and media planning space. He said his latest venture S4 Capital will be purely about technology.

exchange4media Staff 2 days ago


Sir Martin Sorrell is in India with plans to shop for agencies in content, data, and media planning space. According to Sorrell, these three sectors are the main focus areas of S4 Capital and he will be interested in pure independent digital agencies and agencies that have broken away from networks and large agencies. Sorrell hopes that his company S4 Capital is seen as a new kid on the block with a different strategy.  

Speaking at an event in Mumbai on Monday evening, Sorrell said that version 3.0 of his avatar will be all about technology. “The 10 most important companies right now are Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, Alibaba, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe. I would like S4 to be a royalty of the growth of all those companies.” 

Calling Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, Alibaba, Apple, and Microsoft ‘seven sisters’, he said the last time a group of companies was referred to as ‘seven sisters’ was with the oil giants. “Jeff Bezos is like the John D Rockefeller of today,” he said. Sorrell noted that the last bunch of ‘seven sisters’ were regulated and the same might happen to the current ‘seven sisters’. 

Sorrell broadly spoke about the pressures on the agency business and the disruptions that are shaping the market. He said that agencies are mainly suffering because of pressure from clients and not only because of ‘frenemies’ like Google & Facebook, competition from consulting companies, and in-housing. 

Sorrell felt that mergers of legacy agencies with digital agencies like in the case of JWT with Wunderman and VML with Y&R may affect the brand and image of the older and more established agency. “JWT is more well-known in India than Wunderman. Now if people call it Wunderman, there could be a problem. I do believe in the strength of the brands and they have value,” he said. 

In the face of the large-scale mergers that WPP has initiated over the last few months, Sorrell said that the senior management of a multinational company like WPP should visit other markets. “The senior management of WPP has not visited Latam and Asia in the last six months. If you are going to make structural changes that result in losing 7,500 jobs out of the 135,000 jobs you have, there is a responsibility to visit those places and explain the decision.”

Prior to his India trip, Sorrell’s S4 Capital bought San Francisco ad tech company MightyHive. It was his second acquisition since leaving WPP and setting up S4 Capital. He made his first acquisition in July with a €300m deal to buy Dutch company MediaMonks. 

Before Sorrell arrived in Mumbai, he attended the pre-wedding celebrations of Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani in Udaipur. 


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