I want to see every Indian on the Internet: Rajan Anandan, Google

Anandan, VP - South East Asia & India, Google is the IMPACT Person of the Year 2018. He talks about the video explosion in India, why you can take data safety for granted on Google and more

Rajan Anandan

Rajan Anandan, VP, South East Asia & India, Google is IMPACT Person of the Year 2018 for being a dynamic leader in India’s digital ecosystem, accelerating innovation, growing Internet adoption, enabling vernacular language access of the Internet and making ‘Internet for every Indian’ his mission. 

At Google’s headquarters in Gurgaon, Anandan, the company’s leader in India and South-east Asia, is affable and charming as he settles in for this interview. Google India is profitable, its many initiatives to help people use the Internet to better their lives are taking off and Anandan’s mission – to get every Indian on the Internet – has begun in right earnest. Therefore, it is a happy Anandan who talks to us, quick to slip from poking fun at himself to seriously dwelling on life, leadership and lessons learnt.

The first time I used the Internet, I actually didn’t know it… 
Working on programming at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Athena labs in Cambridge in the early 1990s, the first time I used the Internet, I actually didn’t know I was on the Internet! It was before the launch of the commercial Internet as we know it, and it wasn’t called ‘the Internet’ at the time… that’s my earliest recollection. And then when the commercial Internet arrived, Netscape, Yahoo Mail… I remember buying some books in 1997-98 after Amazon had launched and having them delivered… it was a magical experience… how you could order something and get it delivered at your doorstep. It’s incredible to see how the Internet has evolved.

As a child, I actually wanted to be a pilot…
When I was a child, I actually wanted to be a pilot, and fly planes. In fact, when I was 16, I actually took all the pilot training classes, but I was told afterwards that I was too young to actually take the test for a pilot’s licence. So, I lost interest in it and moved on to other things, otherwise I would probably have been flying Jet Airways or something!

There is no one model of great leadership… 
There are many different models of great leadership… no one model... What’s important is for everyone to find their authentic style of leadership, instead of trying to copy a style or a model because it’s successful… For me, a few things have been important. One, the ability to have a long term vision, being able to say, ‘This is where we want to go’, and ‘This is why we want to go there’. Two, being able to build very strong teams… I think leaders build teams because at the end of the day, that’s how you can actually build scale and velocity… Three, it’s very important to communicate clearly and communicate often, and without ambiguity. Four, it’s important for leaders to listen, and to be open to feedback, even if it is critical, and then be able to act on that feedback. The best leaders probably speak less and listen more. Five, the ability to quickly absorb data, listen to different points of view and make decisions quickly is very important in this technology era, because if you don’t make that decision, something would have happened, and before you know it, you are out of business. Lastly, being humble is very important.

I don’t think I have become a leader yet…
I don’t think I have become a leader yet, I am still working on it! You become better every day and at some point, may be you become reasonably good. I wouldn’t say leadership but I started managing people when I was in my early 20s at McKinsey, where I became an engagement manager. That was the first time where I actually had to convince other people, depend on them to do things collectively and get things done. It was an incredible experience. I learnt how to motivate people, how to inspire them… I have had this incredible privilege of having worked with truly inspiring leaders that I have learnt a lot from. My view is, you can learn from everybody. And you should also seek out opportunities where you can learn from teams, from leaders… I am just very fortunate that I started my career at McKinsey with a set of really awesome leaders. Since then too, it’s been a journey of learning from other leaders.

Forcing ads on people - that idea’s time is gone… 
It’s a very exciting time to be in the advertising and media ecosystem because there is so much change around us. On one hand, consumer behaviour is changing very dramatically and we have on an average 400 million Indians who are spending 3-4 hours a day connected to the Internet. What they are doing online is changing. You have to deeply understand those changes to change your strategies. The new set of digital technologies is much more measurable - the effective ROI that you can get from them is very interesting. Programmatic is fascinating. There are going to be things that machines can do better than people. Machines can buy much more efficiently at scale than many people can. Creating and serving 10,000 creatives instantly across an audience is possible today. Hyper-targeting, hyper-personalization, hyper-efficiency, hyper-creatives at scale, targeted creatives at scale… it’s slowly moving towards this idea of ‘segment of one’ - please show me an ad that I want to see when I want to see it and let me control whether I want to see it or not. True view is a fantastic format because you decide whether you want to watch the ad or not. I don’t watch mainline media anymore because I don’t want to watch things I don’t want to watch. This idea of forcing ads on people – it’s time has gone.

I resonate with Google’s moonshot thinking…
I resonate a lot with Google’s moonshot thinking… the idea of 10x thinking. Most companies are trying to improve things 10%, trying to grow 10%, trying to reduce cost by 10% as opposed to 10x. The core belief around moonshot thinking is something that I deeply value, and I have tried to imbibe it in what we do, both personally as a leader, but more importantly in our teams. So, when we launched the ‘Internet Saathi’ initiative, we said, ‘India has 6,00,000 plus villages. We want to get to 300,000 villages with a physical network of ‘Internet Saathi’ in three years’. We have to remember we are Google, a digital company, and we don’t build physical networks of anything. And that we were going to do exactly that, was really a moonshot idea. Over the next year, we will certainly reach that target. We have embarked on many moonshots; some have worked, some have not. Another leadership philosophy is that it’s really important to take a risk. I never ‘play it safe’. People always remember the things you did well and your big successes. The only person who obsesses about all the other things, all the times you failed, is actually you. So, I don’t agonize about failure. I just focus on trying to go for the big wins. 

What are Google’s ambitions in India, and what is on your priority list right now?
Our mission for the last several years has been Internet for every Indian. So, we said this when India only had about 100 million users. Today, we are at 400 million Internet users and we have over almost a billion Indians to go. There are more than 900 million Indians who are not connected to the Internet. So, everything that we are doing in India is focused on how do we get Internet for every Indian. We have developed a very deep understanding of all the challenges and barriers there are to getting Indians online, and we are addressing them. 

Recently you identified voice, video and vernacular as the three driving forces of the Indian Internet ecosystem. How has the Internet landscape evolved of late?
The Indian Internet ecosystem has changed pretty dramatically over the last few years. As we speak, we have 400 million monthly active users on the Internet. One thing that we have observed over the last year or so is that a large number of Internet users who come to the Internet for the very first time are now accessing it primarily through voice. It’s a combination of voice technology or voice access getting much easier, both on regular smartphones like Android, and also Jio connected phones. Most people would much rather speak than type. And as computer technology has got very big on voice, that’s become the primary access point. Video is really exploding. We have over 250 million active users on YouTube in India. As mobile broadband has become more affordable - a gigabyte of 4G data has gone down from Rs 250 to Rs 25 a month. Video consumption has gone from being very expensive to quite affordable, and that’s driven this explosive growth in video. Lastly, local languages - these new Internet users are accessing the Internet and consuming content in local languages, both in video as well as text. So, 100% of new users that are coming on to the Internet today are only proficient in their own Indian languages, be it Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Bangla or others. So, these are three very interesting trends among the new set of users who are coming online today.

How is the video explosion in India different to what is happening around the world?
It’s different in a couple of interesting ways. First, there is just a lot more consumption of video. About 75% of data consumption on the Internet in India is video, and that’s very different to where India was a few years ago. It’s been entirely enabled by the affordable broadband revolution in India. The first thing that new Internet users do in India is consume video. India is the world’s first ‘video first’ and ‘voice first’ Internet. I don’t think there is a single country in the world where you can get a gigabyte of data for Rs 25. And that’s really driven this massive explosion in video. 

It’s predicted that by 2020, India will have more than 600 million people online. What does a connected society of that size and scale mean to you? And what are the opportunities… what can you expect to make of it?
We will certainly be at well north of 600 million users by the time we get to the end of 2020. But, even at 600 million, we are still less than half of India. The most important part of this is the consumers who are connected to the Internet. Internet in India is going to enable all users to get access to very high quality basic services to which many Indians today can’t get access. For example, if you take education, we don’t have enough schools, we certainly will never have enough teachers, enough physical schools to be able to deliver very high quality education. But, with digital, especially with data becoming much more affordable, you can actually develop and deliver very high quality education through online tutorials to hundreds of millions of Indians at scale. For something basic like learning English, India will never be able to build enough centres, or have enough English teachers. If you really want to have 500-600 million Indians proficient in English compared to 200 million today, the only way to do that is through digital. Even in healthcare, India will never have enough hospitals – but somebody sitting in a small village in Karnataka can get access to the best doctors sitting in Bangalore or for that matter anywhere in the world if they are connected to the Internet. Access to affordable healthcare is going to increase. Internet is going to be an enabler in many ways, beginning to solve some of India’s more severe challenges that also become opportunities, especially for Indian start-ups. For brands and marketers, it’s already a scale medium with YouTube at 250 million users. Today it’s got more reach in urban India than any TV channel. But, it can be very targeted, so you don’t have to target all 250 million. You can target basically the 10 million Indians who are going to buy a smartphone next month, and just target them with the messaging that you want. How brands will drive engagement, how they will acquire users as well as how they will support and service and engage after purchase with consumers will change dramatically. There will be an extraordinary opportunity for brands to do things very differently.

With Google on every smartphone, sometimes users get a feeling that their privacy is invaded. Google knows everything. Is our data safe?
We take privacy very seriously; consumer privacy and consumer safety are most important for us. Many still don’t know that you can actually go to Google and see all the data that Google has on you as a consumer, and we give you the option to delete all that data at the tap of one button. Or you can take the data and import it to wherever you like. One, we want to be very transparent on what data we have on you. Two, we want to be transparent on how we use the data that we have on you. And three, and most important, we want to give you control. You should control the data that any platform has about you, and you should control whether or not you want that platform to have the data and what they use it for.

Can you tell us about some of the non-traditional or regional advertisers that are coming on board? And what are the things that they are doing differently?
There are 51 million small businesses in India. Only a few of them advertise on any medium today. About 10,000 of them advertise on Television, 1,50,000 advertise on Print. And today 2,00,000 advertise on Digital. So, the real advertising story in India is going to be about how do we get this medium Digital to become the first, probably the only way in which 20-30 million small businesses will advertise, because those advertisers want a medium that is easy, and extraordinarily focused on return on investment. They also want a medium that is very interactive. They want to run an ad now and get a lead in the next 30 minutes as opposed to run an ad now and see brand metrics improve. So, that is one very big story that is evolving in India today. But then, lots of traditional advertisers are doing some very interesting things, especially leveraging YouTube as a platform as well as programmatic. 

Advertising contributed a huge 69% to Google's turnover with Google Search ads continuing to be the go-to place for digital advertisers in India. But the digital advertising market in India is still very small. What are the factors preventing it from taking off?
We're focused on helping advertisers get the most out of their online spends. There might be any number of reasons why a marketer hasn't tried digital yet. What we do know is that once marketers give it a go, digital’s mix of transparent, measurable results speaks for itself. There is a growing realization that Internet today is not just a marketing channel - it is influencing purchase decisions and marketers are now looking at digital to drive revenue growth. In fact, many auto companies are shifting their marketing spends from Print to online. In 2017- 2018, in categories like Auto and Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI), there was even a direct correlation between online research and offline purchase: 20% of sales in a leading auto original equipment manufacturer (OEM) were driven by digital. In fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and banking, consumers relied on digital throughout their purchase journeys, leveraging search to discover products and educate themselves before converting online. 
 

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India to be $10tn economy in 2030, says D Shivakumar of Aditya Birla at ISA CEO Conference

Shivakumar, Group Executive President Corporate-Strategy and Business Development, Aditya Birla, talks about how digital as an emerging market is a huge unifier and not a divider

shivakumar

The second edition of the ISA CEO Conference that was held on Monday saw many dignitaries talk about the connectedness paradox. D Shivakumar, Group Executive President, Corporate-Strategy and Business Development, Aditya Birla, gave an insightful speech on Rethink and Rework, Competitive strategies for a new interconnected paradigm. 

Speaking about being interconnected, Shivakumar explained how more than advertising, engagement would be the key in the coming days. “Every business connects to the other. No business is an island. Every event that happens has an impact on your business. You recognise that if you want to stay in an interconnected world. In the next decade, you will be more interconnected than you can imagine.”

Shivakumar explains how everything we use today - be it phones, cameras or clothes - are all interconnected. “All toys are from China, speakers from Vietnam, cameras from Japan and apparels are from Bangladesh,” he pointed out. “The best global brands are the best local brands today. Global best brands like McDonald’s adapt their menu to their relevant country. In India, they have aloo tikka.” 

Coming to statistics, Shivakumar made some interesting predictions regarding the fate of digital India in the coming years. He predicted that India would be a $10 trillion economy in 2030. “About 60 per cent of that will be domestic consumption. India has always been a domestic-led market. China is about 40 per cent. India will be richer, younger and a more educated country, and also more connected.” He also shared how the income of the Indian middle class would change dramatically in 2030.

Furthermore to his analysis of what India would be in 2030, Shivakumar continued, “India will be digitally united by 2030. Digital as an emerging market is a huge unifier. It is not a divider. India will have 1 billion people on the internet via smartphones. We have skipped once and for all the laptop age, we flirted with tablet era, that’s also gone. Now, the phone screens will go bigger and will have all the functionalities of either a laptop or a tablet, we tend to use the phone a lot more. Smartphones will be a dominant tool in the future.”

Shivakumar also reveals how video will become big in the coming years. “Search engines are going vernacular. We have seen that with concepts like ‘Who wants to be a Billionaire’ or ‘Dancing With the Stars’. All these big concepts globally, when translated into vernacular, are as popular in Odisha, Tamil Nadu or Kerala as it is in the USA. Consumer voice matters a lot and if you are not serious about taking that right into your boardroom, then you will be in trouble.”
India has the cheapest data price in the world. It is at $0.26/1GB of mobile data whereas Switzerland has the highest price of $20.22/1GB for mobile data. “Everybody is talking and sharing with everybody. This is the interconnected world we live in. India has the second cheapest handsets in the world. So if you see, to enable interconnectedness, we have two of the biggest ones already,” explained Shivakumar.

Digital transparency will ensure newer business models. “For example, the subscription business model of Bombay Shaving Club. We have never thought of the subscription business model in the pass. Only a subscription business model that was successful in India in the past was magazines. But I believe more and more business will get into subscription today,” Shivakumar said. He also broadly explained how renting furniture would become a big business in future. That’s because people don’t want to own. They would rather pay money. “Why I am renting? Because I am closer to the information of seller buyer and user. I know exactly who used it and what I am willing to pay,” said Shivakumar. He also mentioned how it would be the same in the case for cars, apparels and many more. As for e-commerce, he predicted that ease of shopping would be a huge factor for interconnectedness.

Premiumization will accelerate and the growth will be 53 per cent with more attention grabbing technology at the point of purchase. Consumers will give their right arm for both education and health. Training in companies will be interconnected now. Health and food sector will grow dramatically in the next few years, he added. 

The physical distribution of technology will not work anymore in this digital age. “Those who are big today, the digital guys will mercilessly murder them. They have zero cost, have all the margin and premium. If they play smart, India is waiting to premiumize and waiting for better options,” Shivakumar signed off.

MyTeam11 launches campaign on 25 TV channels targeting T20 & World Cup Cricket season

Regional channels have also collaborated so as to maximise the reach and offer a familiar feel to the audience by offering them information in their native languages

Myteam11

Fantasy sports website MyTeam11, announced a collaboration with 25 television channels across the music, news, sports and knowledge sharing genres among others, in a massive campaign targeting the upcoming T20 and World Cup cricket season.

MyTeam11, who have popular former India cricketer Virender Sehwag as their brand ambassador, has a user base of around 10 million+ active users and offers fantasy cricket, fantasy football, fantasy volleyball, and fantasy kabaddi in two formats, namely the “Safe Play” & the “Regular Play,” being the only platform to offer multiple playing options to its users.

A significant number of regional channels have also been collaborated with under the aegis of this association, so as to maximise the reach and offer a familiar feel to the audience by offering them information in their native languages.

Commenting on the development, Vinit Godara, CEO and Co-founder, MyTeam11 said, “We are planning to become the leading brand in the world of fantasy sports, and the upcoming cricket season involving T20 leagues and the ICC cricket world cup seems to be the right fit for our plans. With this collaboration we want to reach out to people in every nook-and-corner of the country and encourage them to use their talent, skills & knowledge of the game to earn while enjoying their favourite sport.”

Prior to this collaboration, Myteam11 had signed some noteworthy deals with various sporting properties like the RuPay Pro Volleyball League, Karnataka Premier League and others as their ‘Official Fantasy Partner’.

These associations become pertinent in their attempt to outgrow as an organisation and target people who are not much familiar with the concept of fantasy sports. In the words of the company leaders, they are presently targeting on reaching the remote locations of India, spreading the word regarding fantasy sports.

MyTeam11 had also previously partnered with DSport, a premium sports channel of Discovery Communications, as ‘Official Broadcasting Partner’ for the India-Australia series and as ‘Broadcast Co-presenting Partners’ of the Bangladesh Premier League. They had also inked a deal with DD Sports for the India-New Zealand T20 series held recently.

Inshorts launches Digital Magazine

Digital Magazine aims at getting the customers to engage with the advertiser’s brand story allowing the readers to not just flip through the pages but to intrigue them enough to do so

Inshorts

Inshorts, the English news app, has launched its new advertisement format - the Digital Magazine. Launched in 2013, Inshorts has more than 200 advertisers who use the platform to reach out to relevant customers. By innovating Ad formats like Fact Cards, HTML Ads, Inshorts has aimed to create a unique and non-intrusive format of advertising. Keeping in line with Inshorts’ constant vision of coming up with more of such relevant and creative ad formats for new age brands who want to connect with netizens, Inshorts has released yet another engaging format of advertising coined ‘Digital Magazine’.

Strongly advocating that creative content in today’s time cannot be restricted to only text and allowing brands the opportunity to connect with their audience in different and distinct ways; Digital Magazines are designed to include GIFs, videos and polls to keep the audience interested. Similarly, since millennials like to share interesting and relatable content among their peers on social media, they can now share the entire magazine on their social media or via WhatsApp. 

Digital Magazine aims at getting the customers themselves to engage with the advertiser’s brand story allowing the readers to not just flip through the pages on the go but to intrigue them enough to do so. 

Speaking about the launch of Digital Magazine, Azhar Iqubal, Co-founder and CEO, Inshorts said, “Today native advertising is on the rise and brands today need new and creative ways to get their message to their millennial audience and get them to actually listen. With the launch of digital magazine ad format by Inshorts, brands can now engage their audience with content which can be entertaining and insightful, and connect through a non-intrusive medium.”

Due to interactive content, low cost production and distribution as compared to traditional magazines, digital magazines are progressively catching the eyes of the marketing and advertiser community. Inshorts digital magazine has already helped some global brands like Netflix to get 3x more engagement as compared to text ads for its new series - ‘The Umbrella Academy’ within just 2 weeks of its release. Apart from this, Inshorts had also partnered with Netflix for its original series - Narcos and Cadbury for its Valentines’ Week campaign. 

Further commenting on the launch, Piyush Thakur, National Sales Head at Inshorts said, “We are a company which is known for innovation and industry first. We are known for interesting and engaging products both from user and advertiser prospective. Digital Magazine takes our commitment a step ahead in that direction where it not only serves advertisers prospect of engaging with the user but also enrich user with right kind of information in interesting and crisp manner. We strongly believe, with our commitment, hardwork and farsightedness we will continue to challenge traditional media with our unique and interesting offerings.”

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Vodafone Idea & Zee Entertainment add a new dimension to content partnership

The partnership provides customers easy access to ZEE5 content; the portfolio includes original shows and films, premium movies, digital movie premieres of upcoming blockbuster films, and more

ZEEL Vodafone idea

Telecom operator Vodafone Idea Limited and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) announced a strategic partnership for OTT platform ZEE5. Under the strategic partnership, aimed at driving the growth of digital ecosystem in India, the content portfolio of ZEE5 will be available to Vodafone Idea customers on Vodafone Play as well as Idea Movies & TV app.

Customers of Vodafone Idea can now enjoy the entire content catalogue of ZEE5 thereby providing a seamless viewing experience via multiple devices. The association between the two industry leaders will help create a beneficial ecosystem for viewers that will drive the growth of video viewing in smaller cities and towns in times to come. The content of ZEE5 can be accessed by customers through Vodafone Play or idea Movies & TV app. The ZEE5 content is available across 12 languages like English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati & Punjabi across genres like Kids content, Cineplays, Live TV and Health and Lifestyle content.

Commenting on the partnership, Avneesh Khosla, Operations Director - Marketing, Vodafone Idea Limited said, “Our customers are constantly seeking rich and diverse content options and we aim to provide enriched entertainment to our customers by offering high quality content on Vodafone Play and Idea Movies & TV. We are happy to partner with ZEE5 and bring their library of content to our customers. Our insights on customer preferences, salience and relevance along with ZEE’s deep understanding of the Indian content viewership habits are being brought together through this partnership. We are happy to offer the entire catalogue of ZEE5 along with 2 exclusive channels to our customers as an introductory offer.”

Speaking about the association, Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India said, “ZEE5 and Vodafone Idea lend themselves to a complementary partnership. Having established ourselves as the fastest growing OTT platform in India with the largest repertoire of content, we have attracted subscribers across geographies and demographics. We have an ambitious growth plan charted out for us and through this partnership with Vodafone Idea, India’s largest telecom company, we will leverage synergies between the brands and further bolster our presence across the country.”

Through this alliance, Vodafone Idea subscribers will be able to access the content repertoire of ZEE5:

  • LIVE TV offering of ZEE’s Network content on Vodafone Play and Idea Movies & TV through ZEE5 app
  • Real-time broadcast of shows that are being telecast on any of the ZEE channels including Hindi and regional channels – ZEE TV, & TV, ZEE Anmol, Zing, ZEE Marathi, ZEE Tamil, ZEE Bangla, ZEE Yuva, Sarthak TV, ZEE Kannada, ZEE Cinema, ZEE Action, & Pictures, ZEE Café, & flix, ZEE ETC and so on
  • Unrestricted catch up of ZEE Network content through ZEE5 app. Customers will be able to access the ZEE5 content library including TV shows, movies and Before TV content 
  • Vodafone Idea customers will get access to ZEE5 premium subscription which includes Original shows and films, premium movies, digital movie premieres of upcoming blockbuster films, etc. as an introductory offer
  • Vodafone Idea subscribers will have access to the complete content portfolio of ZEE5 that includes the original web-series in Hindi and regional languages (including dubbed versions). ZEE5 offers original content in six languages – Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam
  • Customers will also get unrestricted access to the entire movie library on the platform including digital premieres, acquired content, original films and so on.
  • The highlight is 2 exclusive linear digital channels including Zee Theatre - premium theatre content to be available on Vodafone Play and Idea Movies & TV app

ZEE5 is India’s fastest growing entertainment OTT destination that has invested heavily in acquiring and producing content that will resonate with a cross-section of viewers across the country. As of December 2018, ZEE5 has 56.3 million monthly active users, who spend an average of 31 minutes on the platform per day. ZEE5 has consistently been amongst the top-5 free and grossing entertainment apps in India as per the Google Play store rankings. In a first of its kind initiative, in the past quarter, ZEE5 launched regional subscription packs for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada users. These tiered SVOD packs enable consumers to watch premium content in a language of their choice at half the price. Subscribers of these packs are also able to watch their favourite TV shows hours before they are aired on television later in the day. This offering has helped ZEE5 gather subscription momentum in the south Indian market.

The Vodafone Play app is a one-stop entertainment destination to enjoy live TV Shows, latest movies and original content. Downloaded by more than 10 Million+ Vodafone Subscribers it gives access to over 9500+ movies,in16 different languages, 300+ live TV channels along with a huge catalogue of original web series and International TV Shows across all genres.

Idea Movies & TV app is an ultimate gateway to popular movies and video watching experience. The robust library comprises of 8500+movies, 400+Live TV Channels, TV Shows and Original Content across various genres. With over 10 million+ downloads Idea Movies & TV app has been growing in popularity and rating of 4.4 on Play store. 

Is 'Roar Of The Lion' Hotstar’s way of creating more content around IPL 2019?

Nikhil Madhok of Hotstar Original Content and Deepak Dhar of Banijay Asia, reveal whether or not MS Dhoni’s docu-drama is a move to provide more content to the consumers during IPL

Hotstar

Hotstar recently announced the launch of Hotstar Specials, which will feature shows from India’s most acclaimed storytellers. The first to arrive from this bouquet is ‘Roar Of The Lion’. It charts the journey of Chennai Super Kings’ comeback to IPL through Mahendra Singh Dhoni after a two year ban and lifting the trophy last year. Hotstar claims it’s a story he didn’t even narrate to his own friends. The show hits the streamer on March 20 which couldn’t have been a more apt time because Indian Premiere League begins from March 23. In fact, the first match of the tournament is between CSK and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Could it be a move to get more time spend on the app apart from match viewing? Nikhil Madhok, EVP & Head Hotstar Original Content, insists it’s by default and not by design. 

Speaking to exchange4media, Madhok explains, “The way this story panned out, we would have wanted it regardless of whether or not IPL had happened. The stars have aligned in such a way that it is launching a couple of days before IPL. It does have a significant advantage. In the course of next eight to six weeks when the IPL is on, the traffic and the numbers are really mind-boggling. Frankly, it provides this particular show a massive opportunity for people to watch it. In that sense yes, it happened more by default than design which is beneficial. For us, we couldn’t have asked for a more original story for our first Hotstar Special is concerned.”

‘Roar of The Lion’ is a collaboration with Deepak Dhar’s Banijay Asia and MS Dhoni’s Dhoni Entertainment with Hotstar being the OTT platform on which it is mounted. When asked what made Dhar go for Hotstar, the Founder & CEO revealed, “The whole content boom that is happening. Now you want content to be made available on every device possible. This has really become the closest screens and the big screen is quite far off.” He also added how unlike ‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams’ which was in the docu-drama space like ‘Roar Of the Lion’, he never really thought about taking it to the theatres.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni already has a film to his name which speaks about his journey from a TC with the railways to being the World Cup winning captain. The film made Rs 120 crore or more at the box office. So why a show on him makes sense for Hotstar’s consumers? Madhok explains, “We announced our initiative for Hotstar Special a few months ago. Around that point of time, Deepak has come up with the idea of ‘Roar of The Lion’. We found a couple of things exciting. As the home of cricket in the country, Hotstar is the credible platform to tell such a story. In the kind of specials that we are doing, we are trying to be innovative. A story like his which is a mixture of drama and documentary…people are not really exposed to in this country. Given the size and scale Hotstar has we are going to make it available in multiple languages, the entire country can watch it.”

The future of online retailing in India: Rohit Dhingra, TAGG

Guest Column: Rohit Dhingra, Co-Founder & CEO of TAGG believes that the current business environment in India has the potential to enhance the growth of the online retail sector

by Rohit Dhingra
Published - 1 day ago
Rohit Dhingra TAGG

Owing to the rapid technological advancements, the online retailing industry in India has emerged to become one of the most dynamic and fast-growing industries. Factors such as deeper penetration of the internet, increase in smartphone usage and online payments are contributing well towards the growth of the online retail. According to a report by e-Marketer, the e-commerce industry in India has grown more than 3 times since 2015, and by 2022, the same will be worth 71.94 billion dollars.

The current business environment in India has the potential to enhance the growth of the online retail sector. One of the key factors that can fuel its growth is the increase in the number of Internet and smartphone users. According to a recent report of IAMAI, India will have 500 million users internet users by the end of this year. Also, India is one of the booming markets which is observing the rapid growth of smartphone customers. The convenient availability of affordable smartphones will further enhance the e-retailing opportunities in India in the near future.

The rise in transactions through net banking, debit cards, and credit cards is another factor which is augmenting the growth of online retailing. With net-banking and credit/debit cards simplifying the transaction process and the emergence of secure transaction methods like One Time Passwords (OTPs) and secure payment gateways, consumers are preferring to shop online.

Even though the Indian online retailing market has enormous growth prospects, there are a lot of hurdles for e-retailers in the country. Effective logistics play a crucial role in defining the working success of e-retailers as on-time delivery and other priority services are the biggest challenges for online retailers. Also, the cost of logistics in India is high due to the lack of adequate infrastructure along with another significant disadvantage that is the limited technology reserves and developments in the Indian logistics sector. If we observe the other developed countries, there are significantly huge investments carried out in such technologies as Global Positioning System (GPS) to improve the tracking of delivery and shipment of customer orders. Another big difficulty that the sector is facing today is the slow speed internet connectivity which again can have a huge effect on the evolving prospects of online retail in the long run.

Overall, the future of the Indian online retail sector looks bright. The pace at which online retail is growing, it can make a significant contribution to the consolidated retail industry and the economy of our country. The growth of this sector can be boosted enormously, provided we overcome the challenges related to the infrastructure, policy framework and operational environment of our country.

(The author Rohit Dhingra is the Co-Founder & CEO of TAGG, a consumer electronics brand)

 

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

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Tripoto and Morris Garages partner for 7-season web series to be shot across 7 countries

The non-fiction travel web series, ‘World of MG: An Indian Abroad’, will be shot in 6 different countries before concluding in India

Web

Global travel community Tripoto is partnering with British automaker Morris Garages (MG) India for immersive video solutions, offering to boost awareness and sustain interest about the brand ahead of its India launch this year. Tripoto is creating a non-fiction travel web series, ‘World of MG: An Indian Abroad’, which will be shot in 6 different countries before concluding in India. 

Tripoto has collaborated with actor and model, Amol Parashar, for the 7-season web series, 1 season each for seven countries. Amol will be travelling to all 7 countries, promoting and sustaining Morris Garages as the world’s foremost luxury car brand.  The series will have Amol bring to life how Morris Garages has been a part of these countries through their culture, food, revelry and cars. 

Talking about ‘World of MG: An Indian Abroad’, Michael Pargal Lyngdoh, Co-founder, Tripoto, said, “The digital renaissance in our country has triggered the youth to turn to the internet for alternative and shareable content. Web Series have become an impactful way to present a brand and create lasting conversations. Through World of MG: An Indian Abroad, we aim to build a connection for Morris Garages (MG) India amongst our strong and active community of more than 25 Mn+ travelers.”

Speaking on their association woth Tripoto, Pallavi Singh, Marketing Head, Morris Garages (MG) India India, said, “Since the inception of the brand in 1924, storytelling has been an integral part of MG. In India, we have been following in the footsteps by focussing on powerful, emotive video content using new-age digital tools and formats. We’ve had a great association with Tripoto in the past with #RoadToMGLive! Through World of MG: An Indian Abroad series, we hope to take this association further ahead by giving a peek into MG’s global presence across the world and thereby, letting communities experience the local cultural flavour.”

The first of season of the series, shot in Thailand will go live on Tripoto’s social media channels and its website (www.tripoto.com) from March 14 onwards. The four episodes will be shown back to back each day from March 14 to March 17. 

Apart from Thailand,  ‘World of MG: An Indian Abroad’ has been shot in China and other countries in his travel map are Egypt, Australia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and then culminating in India. 
 

Momspresso launches support groups, an anonymous social network for women

Momspresso’s new product offers women dedicated groups wherein they can discuss specific topics like single motherhood, intimacy and depression without revealing their identities

Momspresso for moms

Topics such as financial independence, post-pregnancy weight loss and child care tips are commonly talked about across parenting groups and platforms. However, mothers seldom speak up about issues that truly affect their physical and mental well-being through public domains such as social media platforms. Identifying the need for women to discuss lesser spoken topics, without divulging their identities, Momspresso, a platform of expression for Moms, has launched Support Groups. Momspresso’s new product is aimed at offering women dedicated groups wherein they can discuss specific topics like single motherhood, intimacy and depression without revealing their identities.  

Internationally, there are several groups for moms where they can bond with like-minded women, share their problems and offer solutions, all the while remaining anonymous. Through such groups, mothers can create a sisterhood of sorts, a safe space for them to open up about issues important to them. In India, unfortunately, such groups that facilitate anonymous solidarity do not exist. While numerous moms are a part of various groups on social media that discuss common topics related to motherhood, many mothers do not feel comfortable participating due to the fear of being identified and judged by friends or relatives. Through this feature mothers can remain anonymous while discussing intimate issues affecting their lives, Momspresso is ensuring that mother can use the community to seek or share advice without fear of being judged or misunderstood. 

Since the launch of support groups in October 2018, in both English and Hindi, the product has witnessed strong traction, with audio comments being a popular feature with users. The Hindi group “Kahein man ki har baat”, has seen the highest engagement with mothers finding the comfort of anonymity to discuss a wide variety of topics. ‘Depression and Anxiety’ is another group that has seen good engagement with mothers discussing pertinent issues such as postpartum depression, healing from anxiety and how to deal with negative emotions. Similarly, the group for ‘divorced and single mums’ allows mothers to open up about the financial, emotional and physical implications of solo parenting. 

Currently, Momspresso is eyeing rapid expansion by adding several new products. To oversee its product function, Momspresso has also announced the appointment of Anirudh Agrawal as its Product Head. Anirudh moves to Momspresso from PopXo, where he spearheaded the product. He will play a key in driving Momspresso’s product strategy to achieve its vision of having 70 per cent of all urban Indian mothers use the platform. 

Speaking on the launch of Support Groups, Vishal Gupta, Co-founder & CEO of Momspresso said, “Motherhood can be a lonely journey and through this product, we will enable mothers to seek and provide support on a wide range of issues that affect them deeply. With every Support Group, we want mothers to reassure mothers that they are not alone”. 

Speaking on the unique concept of anonymous support groups, Shimona Shahi Rana, Chief Content Officer, Momspresso, said, “We have started 23 Groups across English and Hindi, including Divorce and Single Moms, Adoption, Sex & Intimacy, Raising Children with Disabilities, In-laws Stories and New Moms, amongst others. More groups will be added throughout the year. By joining a group, mothers will have easy access to other mothers who are going through the same experiences as them. They can share their experiences, ask and answer questions posed by other moms, create polls on topics which they always wondered about and, most importantly, support each other. The best part is that they can do so anonymously, so more moms will be able to partake in difficult yet important conversations through our platform,” she added. 

Since its inception, Momspresso has inspired moms to become the best and happiest versions of themselves. Its rich community of 10,000 mommy bloggers have created more than 80,000 blogs in 8 different languages, covering topics as diverse as pregnancy and baby care, teenage and adolescent issues, beauty, fashion, relationships, healthcare and more. With the launch of Momspresso Groups, the platform is cementing its position as a safe space that connects and supports moms through the journey of motherhood and womanhood. With the collective strength of its 18 million mom community, Momspresso wants moms to know that #YouAreNotAlone.

India Today Group launches So Sorry Gully Cricket Game App

The game consists So Sorry Politoons, which were unveiled by Sunil Gavaskar at the FICCI FRAMES event

India Today Group

The India Today Group unveiled a gaming app called So Sorry Gully Cricket, featuring its award-winning politoons in the line-up of players.

A perfect fusion of sports and news ahead of general elections and the Cricket World Cup, So Sorry Gully Cricket was launched at FICCI FRAMES event in Mumbai by Indian cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar alongside Sam Balasara, Founder Chairman, Madison Worldwide and Shashi Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, IPG Mediabrands.

Kalli Purie, Vice-Chairperson, India Today Group said, “We are really excited to announce the launch of the new game ‘So Sorry Gully Cricket’ at FRAMES in presence of such a distinguished audience. ‘So Sorry Gully Cricket’ is a unique game that portrays life and politics in a way that is interactive, real and interesting.  With India heading for Parliamentary elections the timing could not be more perfect. It's a super example of an integrated use of technology and content.”

The app uses animated cartoon videos in a game set in trademark Indian ‘gullies’, or streets, something that every Indian consumer has experienced while growing up and playing cricket.

Teams in this fun game make up of top politicians contesting Lok Sabha elections, cricket-loving avatars of famous politoons from the blockbuster So Sorry series. So Sorry Gully Cricket is jazzed up with artwork that every Indian would relate to.

A visual delight, the game is enriched with fun elements, such as a milkman and a ‘machhiwali’, or a fish vendor, typically seen in Mumbai. The game comprises 85 matches and follows unique rules of gully cricket, under-arm bowling and one bounce catch-outs included.

"Cricket is potentially a religion. We had a perfect ingredient in So Sorry characters and the fusion of the two will work for sure. You will recognise all the characters and sounds. It's a treat to the ears as well," said Alok Kejriwal, Founder and CEO of Games2win India Private Limited, who devised the app.

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‘Vernacular content is the future of OTT’

Amogh Dusad, Head Content, Partnerships and New Initiatives, Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India, and Sameer Saxena, Chief Content Officer and Head, TVF Originals say OTT is exploding at the moment

Sony TVF

The OTT space is expanding rapidly and there is scope for all players to grow together, said Amogh Dusad, Head Content, Partnerships and New Initiatives, Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India, and Sameer Saxena, Chief Content Officer and Head of TVF Originals at The Viral Fever. 

They spoke to exchange4media at the launch of ‘Tripling Season 2’, the celebrated web series by The Viral Fever - TVF originals. 

Asked about the growth of vernacular content on OTT, both Saxena and Dusad said that there will be growth on that front.

Saxena said vernacular is indeed a huge market, though TVF is yet to tap that area. It is the future where immense success and opportunities could be seen for content creators, he said. 

Saxena further said that content is extremely important for the digital platform. “It is exploding. Earlier, there were limited opportunities with only just films and television. But, now the avenues have been thrown open with OTT platforms coming in and gradually ruling the market,” he added.

Saxena, the man behind TVF, said: “TVF is all set to introduce many more distinguished genres for their audiences. We, being leaders, are only going to grow.”

Meanwhile, Dusad spoke about the innovation and experimentation in OTT.

Edited excerpts of interview with Dusad: 

How fierce is the competition among OTT platforms in terms of staying on top?
There is a lot of activity happening in the category. According to a FICCI report, about 1,200 to 1,400 hours of original content are being created for OTT today. I really don’t think it’s competition as the market is expanding at such a fast pace. There are 350 million people who are on online videos. That number is growing by almost 30 to 35 per cent. 
There is a space for everyone to grow. A lot of experiment and innovation is happening in terms of people presenting their stories, subjects they are choosing and the format they want to show the stories in, 40 or 50 minutes content. That’s the exciting part. By far, we see it as actually not the competition but more as an opportunity to get on board more creative and good content. 

While the English content seems to have been selling, will the Hindi content too create a stir  globally in terms of presenting short stories or web series.

Presenting or focusing on English-driven content is not the direction where the online video market is focusing. What I see is a reverse trend rather. We have observed that more than English language content, it is the Hindi generated one which is happening. There is in fact more regional content on OTT now. The trend is moving towards Hindi or vernacular than English. 

What are the growth or success prospects when it comes to generating women-centric content? Would it help garner more women viewership on the OTT platforms?
With regards to women viewership, the content on Sony Liv has seen a lot of growth in viewership. In terms of content, we had done a couple of series in the past called ‘Married Women Diaries’. The series was a fun take on marriage issues and a peek into the lives of married women. I think we will continue to evaluate concepts which cater to both men and women. Nonetheless, it’s a growing need gap. Probably two to three years ago, it wasn’t there but now we can see a considerable change. 

How true are the rumours that cable operators may collaborate with OTT platforms in order to get viewership?
It’s not true as per my knowledge. I haven’t heard anything about such collaborations. However, what is happening in the market right now is the implementation of the MRP regime. It’s a big change which is affecting the users as well as the entire chain. 

In terms of marketing and further cementing Sony Liv’s position in the market, what can viewers expect?
We have big ambitions this year and are looking at more creative content, offering lot of different genres to our consumers, collaborating with various creative heads and most importantly foraging into sports. Also, a lot of partnership can be seen in the future with companies like TVF and series like ‘Tripling’. There is lot in the pipeline for the viewers.”

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