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, 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.
Netflix posted mixed fourth-quarter earnings results sending shares down roughly 4 per cent in extended trading; it earned 30 cents a share on revenue of $4.19 billion during the period
Leading internet entertainment service, Netflix Inc., showed a rise in new subscribers but reported a shortfall in quarterly sales, sending the stock lower and disappointing investors.
Netflix ended the year 2018 with more than 139 million paid subscribers, adding 8.8 million members in the last three months. The streaming giant said the growth reflected the success of its original programmes, such as ‘Bird Box’ and ‘Roma’.
The streaming giant earned 30 cents a share on revenue of $4.19 billion during the period, in the 2017 quarter, Netflix earned 41 cents a share on sales of $3.29 billion.
For the current quarter, Netflix expects to add 8.9 million paying subscribers. It forecast earnings per share of 56 cents on sales of $4.49 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected Netflix earnings of 83 cents a share and $4.61 billion in revenue.
The quarter was expected to cap an expensive year for Netflix, as the company ramps up content spend and original programming. Reported EPS represents a 66 per cent markdown from the third quarter of 2018, and a 27 percent downside from the 2017 quarter.
Revenue for the quarter fell right in line with recent trends, though hinting at higher expenditures. Fourth-quarter revenue totals mark a 28 percent year-over-year jump.
The company is guiding toward lower-than-expected results for the first quarter of 2019. Netflix expects earnings per share of 56 cents on revenue of $4.49 billion, compared with Wall Street consensus estimates of 82 cents and $4.61 billion.
The streaming giant previously warned content costs are more heavily weighted in the second half of the year. The newly appointed Chief Financial Officer, Spence Neumann, said during the company's earnings statement that a move toward owned content has "put pressure on the cash flows of the business and the cash needs of the business over the past few years," but that the company is confident in its investment.
Netflix reported free cash flow for the quarter of negative $1.3 billion. The company expects its cash burn, which totalled negative $3 billion for the year, to hold consistent in 2019. After that, the company said, free cash flow will improve.
Subscriber additions for the quarter came in just above Wall Street estimates and the company's own projections. Netflix added 8.8 million global paid memberships during the fourth quarter. The company posted 1.5 million new subscribers in the U.S. and 7.3 million new subscribers internationally.
Netflix added 29 million paid subscribers for the full year of 2018, 33 percent higher than the 22 million paid subscribers it added in 2017.
The company's executives indicated last quarter it would be de-emphasising 30-day free trial memberships and focusing more heavily on paid memberships. Free trials accounted for 9 million global memberships during the fourth quarter. The service has seen considerable growth in emerging international markets like India and Mexico, exposing the company to certain foreign exchange headwinds.
Shareholders have rewarded the company for its aggressive content strategy, sending the stock up about 30 percent in the first few weeks of 2019. Shares gained 7 percent during a single session earlier this week, after Netflix announced it was raising rates across its streaming plans.
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It is believed that this could be the biggest data breach in recent times
It has been reported that data stored on the cloud storage service MEGA, has been compromised, thus resulting in the leak of more than 87 GB of passwords and email addresses. It is believed that this could be the biggest data breach in recent times.
According to media reports, the leaked data, containing 22 million unique passwords and over 772 million email addresses, had been distributed in a folder called ‘Collection # 1’ by hackers who posted the link to the folder on a hacking forum.
The breach was first reported by Troy Hunt, a security researcher who runs the site Have I Been Pwned (HIBP), where people can check if their email has been compromised in a data breach.
In Hunt's blog, it is said that a large file of 12,000 separate files and 87GB of data from a combination of 2,000 databases had been uploaded to MEGA and then shared on a popular hacking forum.
The cache of emails and passwords seems to have been collected from several data breaches dating back to 2008.
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Online Curated Content Providers say no to censorship, and have voluntarily signed a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India
Online Curated Content Providers (OCCPs) including Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, Arre, SonyLIV and ALT Balaji have come together with a self-regulatory code to regulate video streaming content, according to media reports.
They have voluntarily signed a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The code establishes guiding principles for Online Curated Content (OCC) Providers to conduct themselves in a responsible and transparent manner and at the same time ensures that consumer interests are protected.
This code will ensure that the creative freedom is protected and outside regulation is avoided. The content providers will classify their content into separate and distinct categories according to the age groups.
According to the code, the following content will be self-regulated by the streaming service providers
- Content which deliberately and maliciously disrespects the national emblem or national flag
- Content which represents a child engaged in real or simulated sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes1
- Content which deliberately and maliciously intends to outrage religious sentiments of any class, section or community
- Content which deliberately and maliciously promotes or encourages terrorism and other forms of violence against the State (of India) or its institutions
- Content that has been banned for exhibition or distribution by online video service under applicable laws or by any court with competent jurisdiction
The code will also provide a mechanism for complaints redressal in relation to content made available by respective content provider. A separate complaint redressal department will be established by each service provider and it would be mandatory for the department to acknowledge a complaint in three working days. If any content is found violating the code, the same department will inform the complainant within 30 days about the steps being taken to redress the issue.
According to a statement released by the service providers, objectives of this code are to "empower consumers to make informed choices on age-appropriate content and protect the interests of consumers in choosing and accessing the content they want to watch, at their own time and convenience". The code also promises to "safeguard and respect creative freedom of content creators and artists and Nurture creativity, create an ecosystem fostering innovation and abide by an individual's freedom of speech and expression".
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Archana Vohra appointed as Director of Small and Medium Business, and Manish Chopra hired as Director & Head of Partnership among others
According to media reports, Facebook has appointed Archana Vohra as Director of Small and Medium Business, and for the newly created roles Manish Chopra has been hired as Director & Head of Partnership and Prashanth Aluru has been appointed as Director of Strategy and Operations.
Sandeep Bhushan has been appointed as Director of Global Marketing Solutions whereas Public Policy will be headed by Ankhi Das. Siddharth Banerjee has been appointed as the Director of Global Sales Organisation (customer partnerships and agencies) and will report to Bhushan.
The social media giant for its India division has created a new organisational structure wherein the functional heads will report to the country managing director. The move is in line with Facebook’s plan of delinking its India operations from the Asia-Pacific region.
Facebook said that the functional heads for public policy, global marketing solutions, communications, and the newly formed verticals of partnership, and strategy and operations will report to Facebook’s India Managing Director, Ajit Mohan, and not to their respective regional heads in Asia Pacific.
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OTTs should not be seen as a substitute for TSPs: Star India, SPN, Times Network say in feedback given to TRAI
The feedback comments on the TRAI consultation paper have revealed that major broadcasters of the country like Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and Times Network are not in favour of further regulations on over-the-top (OTT) communication services.
They have said OTTs should not be seen as a substitute for Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). The broadcasters have said that although some OTT services may seem similar to TSPs they are different in many ways like in matters of technology and revenue model.
Star India has said that OTTs have been licensed under Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and so the regulator does not have the authority to regulate them.
The broadcaster said since provisions under Information Technology Act, 2000, are already in place there was no need for further regulation.
The Justice B N Srikrishna committee has been also working towards reinforcing provisions under Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018.
Sony Pictures Networks India has said any more regulations could hit the growth of internet applications and platforms.
“We believe no regulatory intervention is required since it could stifle innovation and straitjacket technological innovation and the development of this sunrise sector. A policy of forbearance on regulation (as has been the case so far) should be continued in order to avoid hampering growth in the sector,” SPN said in the submission.
The broadcaster said telcos must be allowed to avail fair market pricing.
Times Network also highlighted the differences between OTTs and TSPs and that the services cannot be classed as “similar services” from a licensing perspective.
“Further, TSPs as ISPs are access providers who control the underlying broadband access infrastructure, with few market players due to high barriers to market entry. By contrast, OTTs do not control the underlying broadband access point, have significantly lower barriers to market entry and are faced with many competing services, unlike TSPs. Consumers can add or stop using OTTs at will whereas switching between TSPs involves incurring the cost for the consumer and generally involves a longer relationship,” the broadcaster added in the submission.
ZEEL too submitted its response to TRAI on behalf of its digital arm ZEE5. It has said that there is no issue of a non-level playing field between OTT service providers and TSPs, providing similar services as both OTT providers and TSPs complement each other.
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Suhel Parvez set up a Google Business webpage four years ago and now has completely done away with middlemen in his business and directly deals with customers.
An obscure little Channapatna toy-maker in the Ramanagara District of Karnataka now has e-commerce ambitions thanks to creating a Google Business Website four years ago against the wishes of his family.
Suhel Parvez belongs to a family of Channapatna toy makers whose legacy dates back to 1782. The family business which goes by the name Bharat Arts and Crafts has been very traditional in its outreach initiatives. Parvez tells exchange4media that the family used middle-men and agents to acquire customers and sell products because that was the only option available to them.
But four years ago Parvez decided to explore the burgeoning World Wide Web and set up a Google Website for his business. “Prior to doing this, I had no exposure to the Internet and digital. I took over the family business after completing my graduation and wanted to do something to help grow the business,” he says.
At first, Parvez was very anxious about how everything would turn out. Firstly, because his family was not supportive of his efforts and assumed it would all be a huge waste of time, and second “I did not know how expensive this would end up being.”
Luckily for Parvez, soon after creating a website with photos of the products, a contact number, and a link to a map to help people find the shop easily, his father started getting calls from prospective customers. Footfalls to the store also saw a dramatic rise after Parvez added the listing of Bharat Arts and Crafts on Google Maps.
He says that prior to adding his listing on Google Maps customers would struggle to find his shop and many would abandon their search for Bharat Arts and Crafts. “Now that I have my listing online I receive at least 4-5 customers per day. In fact, people come to drop in on their way to Coorg or Mysore from Bangalore without even giving us a call to ask for our exact location.”
“When we saw the efforts bear fruit, our confidence in ourselves and our business grew and I was confident that I could pull off digital initiatives for my business,” says Parvez. “We have achieved enough momentum to give competition to Chinese products,” he adds.
Now that he sells directly to the consumer, Parvez says the price at which he sells to consumers has dropped because he has been able to bypass the middleman. He has transferred the benefit of cutting out middlemen to his customers. The other benefit of having an online avatar is that now Parvez also gets bulk orders for corporate gifts.
While Parvez worked on creating the site himself, he got some timely tips from Google he says. “They gave me some very simple and effective guidance on positioning my business online.”
Not just has business improved for Parvez, but designers from the city are now more open to working with his team of craftsmen because of the online presence of Bharat Arts and Crafts.
Eventually, Parvez’s worry that digital would be expensive was proven to be false. Now Parvez feels that craftsmen should use digital tools to expand their horizons. “There are many such Indian handicrafts that people are not aware of. If other handicraft makers like us also use digital then we will be able to revive and rescue some dying arts.”
After successfully setting up a webpage and a Maps listing, Parvez wants to take the business to the next level by setting up e-commerce operations.
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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.
A list of the 10 most viewed ads on YouTube globally
YouTube has released its global Ads Leaderboard for December 2018.
The December’s Ads Leaderboard is chock full of holiday cheer. The major makeover that Audi gave Santa landed the carmaker at number three on the Ads Leaderboard, while Google’s new version of Home Alone came in at number two. That spot was actually one of two Ads Leaderboard appearances for Google, with the Year in Search at the top of the list. Target had some holiday cheer of its own, thanks to its first appearance on the Ads Leaderboard in four years, while Lincoln made its first-ever Ads Leaderboard appearance courtesy of Matthew McConaughey’s pool skills.
Here’s the list:
1. Google — Year In Search 2018
2. Home Alone Again with the Google Assistant
3. Audi Presents: New Santa
4. Vote for your favorite GEICO commercial - GEICO Insurance
5. The 2019 Lincoln Nautilus | Ultimate Control Extended Cut | Lincoln
6. Awkwafina and Leslie Jones Make Apocalypse Plans | Oculus Go
7. Beats by Dre | Music The Way Post Malone and Swae Lee Intended
8. Group FaceTime on iPhone — A Little Company — Apple
9. LEGO Jurassic World: Secret Exhibit | Clip: Owen Starts Raptor Training | Jurassic World
10. Nice List, FTW
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Focused on driving inclusion through culturally relevant content, Aawaz.com is accessible through web and app-based platforms
Agrahyah Technologies announces the launch of aawaz.com, an audio-on-demand platform with 100% professionally generated content in Indian vernacular languages. With aawaz.com, people can listen to podcasts, chat shows, interviews and also read articles and features.
Unlike UGC driven platforms and app, where there can be questionable material such as adult or polarizing content, aawaz.com is completely living room friendly, suitable for all ages. The entire content is brand safe and has no profanity, no partisan and no political bias.
aawaz.com is built with cutting edge technology stack and hosted on Cloud for a faster and seamless streaming experience for end user. Aawaz.com will also have ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial capabilities) based capabilities to recommend and personalize the content based on user’s preferences.
With aawaz.com or the app, people can listen to over 150 hours of audio content which is scripted, recorded, and presented as podcasts and shows. Aawaz.com also packs in over one thousand text articles. Both audio and text content is spread across multiple genres including entertainment, lifestyle, health, wellbeing, fiction, literature, devotional, comedy and humor, celebrities, career, relationships, and more.
Agrahyah Technologies was founded with the vision to make technology useful for all, and we do it by creating content from the ground up that is culturally and contextually relevant to the market we operate in. While Voice is gaining widespread acceptance, India’s on-demand audio or podcast as an industry is very nascent but promising. Aawaz.com aims to be an early mover and learn and grow with a new generation of audience who are increasingly consuming passive content such as podcast while performing another task like driving or cooking.
Although negligible in comparison to the US, where podcasting was a $314 million industry in 2017, or China, where the market size is an estimated $7.3 billion as of 2018, Podcasting in India is gaining steady popularity and looks promising. While select segments, like the ‘Mann ki Baat’ podcast by Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi and access to international podcasts due to iPhone’s pre-installed podcast apps, add to the growth of podcasting in India.
However, the fact that most content, both digital and voice, remains largely skewed to English, is a major factor contributing to the unpopularity of podcasts. English today dominates 51% content on the web worldwide, followed by Russian at a distant second at 7% while Hindi stands at a negligible 0.5%. For a country that has over 400 million Hindi speaking audiences, that’s an abysmally low quantum of content, let alone other 21 official languages of India. Products built by Agrahyah are in aimed to cement the gap.
Factors driving the growth of the Podcast industry in India:
- Increased smartphone and internet penetration in India
- Growing focus on vernacular language content
- Availability of preinstalled podcast apps with devices like iPhone
- Ripple effect of the growing podcast market in US, China, and South Korea
What does this mean for brands?
As per a recent study, internet surfers in vernacular languages have grown from 42 million in 2011 to 234 million in 2016, highlighting that nearly, 70% of Indians consider local language digital content more engaging than English content. By 2021, it is estimated that over 201 million Hindi users, which form 38% of the Indian internet user base, are expected to be online and nearly 90% of them are more likely to respond to a digital advertisement in their local language as compared to English ads.
In line with the above, most brands are waking up to the significance of engaging with consumers in their local language, however, their marketing and brand campaigns are limited to social media and mobile advertising. With the rapid rise in regional language internet users, which are poised to drive the next phase of internet adoption in India, emerging platforms like voice are leading the conversation through a plethora of innovative content formats. Podcasts are touted as the next big opportunity for brands, after the voice assistants, which are currently drawing great attention from brands and marketers, with an objective to create more stickiness for the product/offering.
With Aawaz.com, Agrahyah aims to take the lead in offering brands an innovative, ad-free, and engaging platform while offering consumers easy access to rich, culturally relevant content accessible through mobile and web. As a first of its kind platform in Hindi, Aawaz offers both audio content and text content bundled into one, and both of them are created professionally in-house by Agrahyah Technologies. The audio content has scripts written by popular writers and voices of famous RJs. aawaz.com website and app are currently available in Hindi and is aimed at the vast HSM (Hindi Speaking Market) of India.
Speaking about the launch, Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Co-Founder of Agrahyah Technologies says “We are delighted to be producing content ground up to make it contextually relevant and useful for people of India. Aawaz.com is our way of making the web useful to people by providing high quality and genuine content created by subject matter experts. While we are striving to make content useful, it is also entertaining.”
With over 150 hours of audio content which is scripted, recorded, and presented as podcasts and shows, Aawaz also packs in over one thousand text articles. Both audio and text content are spread across multiple genres including entertainment, lifestyle, health, wellbeing, fiction, literature, devotional, comedy and humor, celebrities, career, relationships, and more.
Rushabh Vasa, Co-Founder of Agrahyah Technologies adds “While English podcasts as an industry is in a nascent stage in India, vernacular based audio content consumption has always been high in India, albeit in a passive format. Just observe a salon next door, or an average commuter on public transport, you’ll see them listening and working or earphones plugged while their hands and eyes are busy doing something else.
Aawaz.com packs in many unique shows and podcasts including, Health and wellness chat show, Akbar – Birbal stories, Holy rivers of India, Step by step Yoga guide, Comedy and parody shows, devotional chants such as Hanuman Chalisa, Gayatri Matra, and mythological fables.
aawaz.com is currently available in Hindi, and as both website and Android app.
Visit http://bit.ly/getaawaz to download or give a missed call to 7776022929
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The panel was chaired by Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD, Isobar South Asia.
Let’s face it. Digital media can have a huge impact on a company’s cost per acquisition, if done right. So the discourse around digital beyond performance makes more sense than it ever did. At The DAN e4m Conference, thought leaders weighed in on the topic.
The panel comprised Hiren Gada - Chief Executive Officer – Shemaroo Entertainment, Pradeep Dwivedi – Group Advisor – Sakal Media Group, Sai Narayan - Head of Marketing – Policybazaar Group, Vikram Tanna- VP & Head of Advertising Sales and Business Head of Regional Clusters – South Asia – Discovery Communications India, and was chaired by Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD, Isobar South Asia.
Narayan asserted that initially, it was all performance but we have gone beyond. “That’s happened due to the evolution of digital. Ten years ago, it was mostly TV for creating awareness. As the consumer searches for the brand and then the pressure is put on digital for performance. But now things are changing. We have moved beyond just performance,” he said.
“A considerable amount of media spends are being used towards building brands with digital as well. It’s about brand-building, performance is something that comes automatically. The way I see it, a major chunk of money will go towards video content. As a marketer, I need to be where the consumer is. And the fact of the matter is that people are moving towards the digital platform,” Narayan added.
Gada’s key message was that the consumption of digital video is real and is here. Sharing some stats, he said, “Three years back, digital constituted less than 10% of our business. Today it is nearly 30%. Due to the broadband explosion, we have seen humongous rise in video consumption. One of our key channels that showcases retro songs has 90 million monthly active users. Shemaroo has 70 million active monthly users. No other music channel has that many active monthly users.” He added that the brand’s OTT app-video streaming service is also in the works.
Tanna made an interesting point. “The full-form of TV is total video. And total video is now television on digital. The lines are blurring.” According to him, perception is bigger than performance. “The difference is that you are talking to the heart or the mind of the consumer. When it’s about reach, TV stills gets you that. But are you able to fine-tune in the programmatic manner which digital is giving you? You will see ad-dollars being split and it is all about what your brand objective is,” he opined.
Dwivedi contended that if you talk to any marketer today, their ultimate litmus is not about which medium is being used but about the ROI they are going to get on their marketing spends. He said, “There's no death of print. The combination of print and digital is the example of how content requirements have changed.” As a print player, which is now transforming into digital, he shared the two key things that are now emerging. “How do we integrate the digital DNA into our organization? How do we make sure that every part of our value chain understands that the information flow today is largely digital-based?” he added.
Dwivedi shared that a lot of print and TV campaigns done by them have a digital component and is a part of the integrated solution. “By integrating, we are able to give the client a larger ROI beyond the traditional methods. “ He commented that as a news organization, credibility of content becomes paramount. “Our ability to put branded content becomes limited. We tend to do contextual advertising. That reduces the efficacy from a return standpoint.”
Narayan said, “If you create an excellent content that talks right about the brand, the content automatically finds its own medium. The great test is when it’s being shared on a WhatsApp group which was not even planned. As a marketer, we see that building brand is important, the medium becomes secondary. Though we have to admit that digital is eating into major part of our TV budgets.”
Tanna highlighted that the thing with digital is that it allows you to target a user versus a buyer. “Once you have a user, he is your marketer. The word-of-mouth of this person, to me that is the tipping point. Can you get to the user?” he raised the question.
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Key highlights of the report released on Wednesday
The unprecedented growth of internet penetration & adoption is shaping India and its digital advertising industry. Driven by cheap data and affordable smartphone revolution, the digital advertising industry in India is expected to grow at a rate of 32% to reach Rs.14,281 crore in 2019.
The industry, which is now worth Rs.10,819 crore, is expected to grow with a CAGR of 31.96% to reach Rs 24,920 crore by 2021. These findings are part of the third Dentsu Aegis Network exchange4media Digital Report which was unveiled on Wednesday in Mumbai. The report offers a deep dive into the growth drivers, challenges and trendsetting work executed by brands in the digital space.
Key Highlights from the Report:
- As of 2018, the Indian advertising market stands at Rs. 61,878 crore ($8.76 billion) and is estimated to grow with a CAGR of 10.62% till 2021 to reach a market size of Rs. 85,250 crore ($12.06 billion).
- The digital advertising market size is around Rs. 10,819 crore ($1.3 billion) and the estimated CAGR growth will be 31.96% and the market will expand to Rs. 24,920 crore ($3.52 billion).
- Television and print take the largest share of media spends at 70% aggregated followed by digital media at 17%. Digital will contribute 29% of the ad market size by 2021.
- Currently, BFSI is the biggest spender on digital media with a contribution of 38% of all their marketing budgets. This is followed by consumer durables (36%), e-commerce (34%) and telecom (31%). FMCG spends heavily on the television (63%) and the retail sector spends largely on print (54%) medium of advertising.
- The advertising expenditure on the digital advertising formats is led by social media (29%) followed by search (25%), display (21%) and video (20%).
- The main drivers of the growth of digital media will be voice, vernacular and video. Apart from this, some of the other drivers of digital media growth will be engaging mobile experiences based on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
Industry leaders share their key takeaways from the report:
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