MEC appoints Gurpreet Wadhwa as Head of Digital, Vietnam

In his new role, Wadhwa’s main focus will be leading the digital team in developing the core digital strength of the agency and bring new thinking and capability to the fast growing MEC Vietnam.

e4m by e4m Desk
Published: Jul 12, 2016 4:11 PM  | 1 min read
MEC appoints Gurpreet Wadhwa as Head of Digital, Vietnam

MEC has announced the appointment of Gurpreet Wadhwa as the new Head of Digital of their Vietnam office. In his new role, Wadhwa’s main focus will be leading the digital team in developing the core digital strength of the agency and bring new thinking and capability to the fast growing MEC Vietnam. Wadhwa has more than eight years of experience working on the forefront of digital transformation and this experience makes him the right person to further fuel MEC’s digital expansion in the dynamic Vietnam market.

 Wadhwa will be reporting to Arup Bansal, Managing Director MEC Vietnam, who commented, “This is an investment into our digital expertise and growing client portfolio. We are committed to add depth to the dynamic digital conversations with a seasoned communication professional like Gurpreet in the lead.”

Speaking on his appointment, Wadhwa said, “I am very excited to join MEC Vietnam, one of the fastest growing agencies in the country. Vietnam as a market is full of opportunities and challenges and I am looking forward to contribute to making MEC Vietnam a stronger partner for its clients”.

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India leading in terms of businesses having embraced messaging: Zuckerberg

The Meta CEO was attending the company's Annual Conversations in Mumbai virtually where a slew of new features for WhatsApp were announced

By e4m Staff | Sep 20, 2023 2:11 PM   |   2 min read

whatsapp

“India is a country that's at the forefront of a lot of what we're going to talk about today,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his virtual address during the Meta’s Annual Conversations in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Zuckerberg also lauded India and Indians for “leading the world in terms of how people and businesses have embraced messaging as the better way to get things done.”

The Meta CEO also spoke about the new innovations on WhatsApp. “We’ve continued to innovate with our messaging formats, our group chats and broadcast channels. And it's the same focus that we're bringing to how we support businesses, creating simple to use and easy to scale tools so they can connect with their customers in meaningful ways,” he said.

Zuckerberg also expounded on the various ways in which WhatsApp supports businesses, such as creating customized experiences, etc. During the event, Meta announced brand new features for WhatsApp Business, such as UPI integration. The company also announced the expansion of Meta Verified to businesses on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. 

“Now, as you know, we’ve launched our own payment solution in Brazil and in Singapore, and today I am excited to announce that we are bringing this service to India. With payments in India, we’re going to support other payment methods as well, including all UPI apps. This is going to make it even easier for people to pay Indian businesses within a WhatsApp chat using whatever method they prefer,” he said in his address. 

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Elon Musk to charge 'small' fee for X (Twitter) subscription

The Twitter owner said that the move may help weed out bot accounts

By e4m Staff | Sep 20, 2023 1:20 PM   |   1 min read

Elon Musk

X (formerly Twitter) users may soon have to pay subscription fees to use the platform, according to Elon Musk. The magnate has hinted that he could soon enforce a paywall around the business to get rid of bot accounts, which has become a throne on his side: “We are moving to having a small monthly payment for use of systems.”

Musk made the disclosure when he was in a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who visited Tesla Motors in California. Currently, the platform charges users for accessing premium features of X such as checkmarks for verified accounts.

By enforcing subscriptions, bot account users may get discouraged from creating new accounts.

Musk has not mentioned how much the new paid service may cost or what special features can the users avail of.

In the meeting with Netanyahu, Musk also addressed the issues of antisemitism prevalent on the plaform.

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OTT won't be regulated as telecom service: DoT

DoT said that the current definition of telecom services under the Telegraph Act is good enough and that there’s no need to add OTT in the new bill

By e4m Staff | Sep 19, 2023 8:28 AM   |   2 min read

OTT

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly said that OTT (over-the-top) players won’t come under the purview of the definition of  telecommunication services in the Telecom Bill.

According to news reports, DoT said that the current definition of telecom services under the Telegraph Act is good enough and that there’s no need to add OTT in the new bill.

The government won’t be enabling a revenue-sharing model between the OTTs and the telecom-sharing providers.

The report also quoted a government official who said that there’s no revenue-sharing mechanism in the works.

Telecos have been demanding a share of the revenue earned by OTT players who have been using the former’s network for carriage of their apps.

In their defence, the telecom companies contend that the streaming apps have been offering heavy services and generating disproportionately high traffic, pushing them to upgrade their network capacity.

The new Telecom Bill is set to replace the Telegraph Act, which defines “telegraph” as “any appliance, instrument, material or apparatus used

or capable of use for transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, visual or other electro-magnetic emissions, Radio waves or Hertzian waves, galvanic, electric or magnetic means.”

The move to remove OTT from the Telecom Bill is reportedly expected to be tabled in the winter session of the Parliament.

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Ad Nauseum: Are AI algorithms hurting ad performance?

Increasing use of AI-generated content & data can decrease production of original content, while simultaneously increasing the volume of deductive and AI-generated content, say experts

By Shantanu David | Sep 19, 2023 8:27 AM   |   6 min read

ai

As we navigate the oft murky depths of the internet and digital media, sailing from content to information, and weaving between news and retail; that is when it happens.

Ad nauseum, whether it’s the act of repeating something to the point of aversion or the effect of seeing the same ad for air fryers for days after having innocuously Googled ‘healthy French Fries’ that one time, seems to be occurring more frequently. And you can blame it, as you can most things according to certain talking heads these days, on the advent of Artificial Intelligence.

“AI plays a big role in digital ads, making things smoother and better. But there's a worry that AI might make ads too similar because it only uses similar data,” observes Sanjeev Jasani, COO, Cheil India.

And that’s only what’s happening at the metaphorical shop front. Things behind the counter have the potential to get a lot messier. And that’s even as more advertisers, publishers, and media merchants pivot towards the inarguable efficacy and application of AI technologies.

Ghosts in the machine

Agreeing with the universal sentiment that AI is the next big thing, Shashidhar Sharma, Country Head – Programmatic, GroupM Nexus, says the utilization of AI and its inherent ability to analyze extensive data sets for extracting insights has led to a multitude of practical applications, and increased revenue generation, and thereby has a consequential impact.

“However, the possibility of the data sets themselves being biased does exist. An increasing use of AI-generated content and data has the potential to decrease the production of original content, while simultaneously increasing the volume of deductive and AI-generated content. Subsequently, this heightens the risk of content loops, which impacts advertising and programmatic vastly as we advertise pertinent content trying to reach out to relevant users. If content loops or echo chambers become predominant, users will progressively shift away from them and seek out original content that provides up-to-date and contextually accurate information.”

Siddhant Mazumdar, Head, Mediabrands Content Studio – India, says that Artificial Intelligence unquestionably has the potential to generate echo chambers across various applications. “With the proliferation of AI-generated content, there's a concern that AI may end up primarily curating content created by other AI systems, sidelining human involvement. This scenario presents a somewhat dystopian perspective. As AI content becomes indistinguishable from human-created content, it becomes increasingly challenging to ascertain its source.”

Indeed, consumers today have been exposed to different forms of echo chambers for a while now. It’s not (just) that people in your digital surroundings think like you and agree with your views on so many things, excellent as you may view them to be.

“Social media platforms, for instance, employ AI algorithms that repetitively serve content or products based on users' preferences, limiting exposure to diverse viewpoints. This phenomenon can also occur in conversational chatbot experiences, where strong biases or one-sided information may dominate, offering limited exposure to counter viewpoints,” says Mazumdar.

“Similarly, if data bias creeps into the way we use algorithms within digital advertising, the subsequent insights will be impacted. The risk is high, but the solution is also a continuous process that should start immediately. AI/ML should be approached with the understanding of what insights to use, which trigger points we optimize for, and what target user persona we are aiming for. If we lose vision as stated above, we do run the risk of deductive data sets being repetitively used, reducing the efficiency drastically,” says Sharma.

The Exorcists

Jasani says to fix this we need to use different types of data and AI that shows different ideas. “This way, ads can be more interesting and work better. Advertisers and publishers should prioritize responsible AI usage. Regular data audits, transparency in algorithms, and continuous monitoring are key. Human oversight is essential to ensure that AI-driven ads resonate with the intended audience while respecting ethical and cultural boundaries,” he says.

In Sharma’s opinion, publishers should explore the potential of AI capabilities for fine tuning the content rather than creating it from scratch. “I would emphasize on the significance of original content which has never been more crucial and should be given due attention. The usage of original content with AI supporting the mechanism by throwing in research insights would be my recommendation.”

Mazumdar adds that subject matter experts with neutrality in mind can supervise or guide AI content creation, ensuring it remains grounded in human sensibilities. “Looking ahead, AI platforms should ideally provide tools that allow users to control the extent of AI involvement in the processing, empowering everyone to have greater control over the outcome. This balance between AI and human oversight will be vital in maintaining the impact and human touch of ads.”

Sharma also says that advertisers should have checks and balances in place to ensure user persona mapping is done accurately so that biased or inaccurate insights do not impact the overall strategy.

So while echoes are definitely growing in the void that is digital media, there is still a chance to curb that while we still have our hands on the remote.

Epilogue

Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, White Rivers Media sums it up, saying, “AI is a mixed bag in today's ad world. On one hand, it helps us pinpoint our target audience, refine our advertising campaigns, and enhance efficiency through machine-learning techniques. On the other hand, it can also steer you into an echo chamber of comparable concepts.”

“Remember, in this data-driven age, staying on top of your datasets and keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer sentiment is crucial. Use AI to craft ads that speak directly to your audience, striking that perfect balance between its advantages and pitfalls.”

 

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Urge & request media to stop speculating: Koo Founders

'We are committed to our dream of taking Koo to the world and beating the best with Indian tech,' said the founders.

By e4m Staff | Sep 18, 2023 12:25 PM   |   2 min read

Koo

After the reports that the homegrown micro-blogging platform, Koo, is actively seeking a partnership with a party possessing robust distribution capabilities, the founders have now issued a statement urging media to stop speculating.

The statement highlights that 2023 has been one of the toughest years for the startup ecosystem around the world. Funding has come to a standstill and only near breakeven or early stage startups are lucky to raise funds, that too at low valuations / heavy markdowns.

“While our stable state plan was to scale more before generating revenue, Koo too was caught in this unfortunately sour market timing and had to switch gears from a growth trajectory to a revenue generating engine. With just 6 months more on our trajectory, we would have beaten Twitter in India” read the statement.

The founders of Koo believe that from growing rapidly to cutting down on growth and proving unit economics, within 6 months of revenue experimentation, Koo took a 180 degree turn and proved that this is a real business. 

“While the market is unfavourable, we as founders are committed to our dream, of taking Koo to the world and beating the best, with Indian tech. We believe that India needs to have a seat at the table that's currently only reserved for global tech giants.”


“The next phase for Koo is to build scale and that will happen with either funding or through a strategic partnership with someone who already has scale. With the current reality of a slow investor market, the best way forward is to partner with someone who has the distribution strength to give Koo a massive user impetus and help it grow. With a platform that's scale ready, Koo can outshine competitors with the right push on growth. While we talk to the right partners to build this out, we urge and request our well wishers and friends in the media to stop speculating and be patient till we have something concrete to announce. All we can tell you is that, with all these changes, Koo will be much stronger as an organization and will make all of us proud,” it further read



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Deccan Herald & Prajavani join hands with Quintype’s AI digital experience platform

Quintype’s digital experience platform empowers the editorial team with custom workflows, bi-directional print-to-digital syndication and innovative storytelling formats

By e4m Staff | Sep 18, 2023 10:58 AM   |   2 min read

Quintype

Quintype has announced its collaboration with The Printers Mysore of Deccan Herald and Prajavani. This partnership has facilitated The Printers Mysore in doubling its active user base and maintaining stable website traffic.

The Printers Mysore aims to harness the power of its influential media brands to enhance its digital media presence for the next-generation news consumers.

In this journey, Quintype, with its AI-powered newsroom growth platform and deep digital publishing expertise, stood out as the ideal partner for The Printers Mysore's progressive digital approach.

This strategic collaboration has enabled Deccan Herald and Prajavani to bolster its digital-first newsroom approach. They adopted Quintype's flagship News CMS platform, hosted on AWS, which comes fully equipped with all essential editorial features and the added benefit of seamless bi-directional print-to-digital syndication. Remarkably, over 2 million stories were migrated to Quintype’s platform without any dip in website traffic. Furthermore, most of their URLs now achieve a "Good" rating in Google's Core Web Vitals assessment.

“Our aim was to enhance our tech stack to offer our readers unparalleled experiences with a great design that is Clean, Crisp and Contemporary. The new platform aligned perfectly with our editorial team's criteria, including efficient workflow management. The entire Quintype team, from tech to product to support, was physically present in our office during the go-live of the new Prajavani and Deccan Herald websites. They closely worked with our team throughout the process, ensuring a smooth transition,” said Sitaraman Shankar, CEO of The Printers Mysore and Editor of Deccan Herald.

"We're thrilled to team up with The Printers Mysore, a media titan in India boasting nearly 9 million print readers and an impressive over 100 million monthly pageviews," expressed Chirdeep Shetty, CEO at Quintype. “Our DXP platform is designed to aid publishers in reducing website downtime and amplifying traffic. It's a robust tool for efficient content generation and omnichannel distribution powered by a state-of-the-art tech stack."

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Video personalization will soon be a necessity for brands: Suvrat Bhooshan, Gan.ai

Stanford alumnus Suvrat Bhooshan, the founder of Gan.ai, spoke to e4m about commercialising the personalized video tech and how it impacts businesses across the board

By Shantanu David | Sep 18, 2023 8:57 AM   |   4 min read

Gan

A Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) is a Machine Learning (ML) model, which generates multimedia and in which two neural networks compete with each other by using deep learning methods to become more accurate in their predictions. A more simplistic way of looking at it is that the best AI in a system wins. And that’s what Gan.ai seems to be doing in its particular space.

Started by Stanford alumnus Suvrat Bhooshan in March 2021 and headquartered in the OG Silicon Valley, Gan.ai is a personalized video platform that allows brands to send customers hyper-personalized video messages from celebrities, brand ambassadors and other people you’re likely to pay attention to. It’s like the Shahrukh Khan Cadbury ad, but on steroids, and talking to you, dear reader, directly.

“When someone addresses you by name directly, you’re more likely to pay attention (up to five times as much), and we’ve found that when this happens in ads, consumers are immediately hooked and watch through the whole ad and are more likely to remember both the brand and the product,” shares Bhooshan.

Having previously worked at the AI research labs at Meta (then Facebook), Bhooshan started Gan.ai at a critical moment, when Generative AI was just starting to dominate headlines and business plans.  “We were very lucky to be approached by Sequoia. They funded us when we were still in an idea state, it was just me and an idea and we spent all of 2021 building on the core technology behind what we wanted, and we started commercializing this technology in 2022,” says Bhooshan, who moved back to India in December 2020. Gan.ai has since also undergone another round of funding.

“We got early traction in the marketing space and everybody from Swiggy, Zomato, MPL, Samsung, Bajaj, to a lot of others started using us. We are at the stage where we essentially have monopolized the entire Indian market ranging from Unilever, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola. All the large consumer giants and verticals in India and the top three players are in our pipeline at this point. I think it's only a moment of time, where literally any brand that you can think of in India will be using us for a video personalization space,” Bhooshan asserted.

Use cases include when consumers visit an electronics store, for instance, and are served by a customer executive, the next day they’ll get a video message from say, Virat Kohli reminding them of their store visit and their interaction with said executive and asking if they need any more help to finalise that purchase decision and whom to contact and so on.

“Real money gaming used to be quite big for us as well, but as the regulations changed we are reevaluating the whole business outcome. Ecommerce, D2C are other big ones Real Estate in the US is very big for us, and healthcare and real estate in India are quite big for us as well,” he says, adding, “So anywhere you have a consumer marketing funnel, and you have budgets to get in celebrities as brand ambassadors. These mostly tend to be leading smartphone brands, leading automobile brands and leading consumer verticals.”

With the upcoming festive season, Gan.ai has quite a lot of big projects in the bag, stretching from Pujo and Diwali up to Christmas and New Year’s, with clients ranging from liquor brands to beauty product labels. Bhooshan noted that practically every vertical is coming into the personalized video fold.

“Brands realize they can’t afford to be left behind when all their competitors are doing it. The conversion rate of these ads is up to 10 times the generic ones, and the follow-up videos can help consumers return to their abandoned carts and resume purchase journeys. As an investment, it’s more than worth it. It’ll soon be a necessity,” Bhooshan concluded.

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