Now is the time to create large IPs which will deliver both reach and engagement: Saket Saurabh

With the recently launched ‘#fame Websinger’ in association with Close-UP and singer Pritam. Saket Saurabh, CEO, #fame talks about the company’s plans and the opportunities they hope to tap into

Aliefya Vahanvaty 01-October-2015

Now is the time to create large IPs which will deliver both reach and engagement: Saket Saurabh

Taking on a multi-platform approach in distribution, To The New Venture’s (TTNV), digital content based platform #fame, is all set to expand across South East Asia over the next three months in local languages. Apart from building digital video channels with celebrity as well as emerging talent, #fame’s content strategy also involves creating digital IPs through innovative digital shows and formats in genres such as food, fashion, music, comedy and technology.

The company recently launched ‘#fame Websinger’ in association with Close-UP and singer Pritam. Saket Saurabh, CEO, #fame talks about the company’s plans and the opportunities they hope to tap into.

#fame recently announced the launch of Close-Up Websinger. Can you tell us briefly what the property is about and how it fits into #fame’s growth plans?

 Websinger is a key part of our talent strategy. When we started out a year ago we were clear that we wanted to make large scale impact properties on digital. Digital is no longer a third or fourth medium; it’s now the first medium. And now is the time to create large IPs which will deliver both reach and engagement. For the longest time, digital was seen as a support medium. But that’s no longer the case. We bring talent discovery and content together in our properties. We started out with Lakme School of Style, which is a fashion blogger focussed property. And in line with that we focussed on music which is a huge genre on digital and came up with Websinger. It’s just begun. We’ve partnered with Pritam and other well-known music mentors.

In a country where talent shows on TV have seen tremendous popularity, do you think the same story will play out on digital?

The single biggest challenge is not tech or infrastructure. Growth of smartphones and huge appetite for digital consumption – the successes of AIB and TVF, what they tell us is that digital video consumption is going through the roof. If you see the growth of Facebook or YouTube in India, these platforms are seeing that kind of growth because one, there is that kind of consumption and secondly, because there is supply to match. We want to build Websinger into THE platform for online singing and talent discovery.

The biggest challenge today in digital is getting discovered. There is oversupply of content in that sense. How do you become part of a format that helps you skill up as an artist and a format that allows you or your content to get discovered and consumed very seamlessly and quickly? That’s really what Websinger’s value is to its consumers. The way it differs from what’s happening on TV today is that the idea here is not really about creating reality drama, the idea is to hone and discover that talent and ultimately produce work which is great for consumers. For us powerful content is our main goal which should also be entertaining and in this process these guys move up from being pure amateurs to semi-professionals.

The traditional barriers to digital video content – tech and access and internet penetration – those barriers will start to fall away much faster than people realise. In that context there is a lot of content. Digital is a natural native platform for amateur UGC content. You don’t find UGC content on any other medium because no other medium is designed to absorb UGC content the way digital and digital video platforms can. So in that context there is a lot of supply. The entry barriers for a performer to reach an audience are collapsing. For a company like #fame, our job is to ensure that the journey of a performer is successful and we have met our objective of great content.

How do you see #fame vis-a-vis other MCN’S that are occupying the same space?

We don’t see ourselves as a MCN. We are really a tech and content platform and that’s the reason we developed the app. Our idea is really to create large scale properties and to ensure that a lot of young talent gets discovered. We are focussed on creating original content meant for the digital platform and that it has not been served very well in India so far and there is a huge opportunity to do that and we see signs of that across the board. We are not the only ones trying to occupy that space. There are a bunch of OTT platforms that are also focussing on original content. The idea of creating digital content made for digital or made for the mobile phone is now very much mainstream.

What are your monetization streams and how do you plan to further business growth?

For now our big monetization lines are obviously advertising and sponsorships which is an important and a critical revenue line. And the other one which we will look at is the gamification stream. In the immediate short term we are not looking at creating a pay wall or subscription window but as we expand that could become an option. But it’s not a short term option and is something we will continue to evaluate. I don’t think audiences are ready to pay for content on digital as of today. There have been attempts made in this direction with live sports and I think that’s a great opportunity. Because to make audiences pay for content, the content really has to be exclusive and premium or it has to be extremely habit forming. Both are important but difficult goals to achieve. Audiences will start paying but not anytime soon. It isn’t a question of if but of when. Also now audiences are used to paying on digital through e-commerce. E-commerce has made people friendly to the idea of using gateways, credit cards, payment wallets. That major shift in behaviour has already happened thanks to other categories. So now it’s really upto content creators and networks to be able to put stuff behind the pay wall which is compelling enough. I do believe it’s going to move slowly here but it’s happening across the world and it’s only a matter of time before India catches on. Live sports is one of the best ways to look at how this trend will evolve. Even in the west pay per view and all of that evolved from sports. So in the immediate term for us, advertising is going to continue to play a big role but hopefully, over the next two to three years you might see the shift happening.

You mentioned gamification. What are your plans in this arena?

We are already working on that – the build-out of the platform. The platform is essentially a marketplace. You’ve got the supply side which is the talent coming in from across the country. We’ve had more than 50,000 performers already gone live on the app in the past 90-odd days. We expect that number to get close to a lakh in the next six to eight months. So that traction is great on the supply side. On the demand side there is obviously the viewers. So as a talent and performer marketplace which is what the #fame app is we feel there is a great opportunity to build an incentive program where performers gain more if they do well and viewers also participate and build a relationship with performers. Our idea will revolve around that philosophy.

How important a role do bloggers and vloggers play in the digital space today?

They represent the paradigm shift that the industry has seen in the last two years. They represent the democracy of digital. Vloggers today wield considerable influence with audiences. Traditionally 20 years ago audience influence was captive to media networks, large scale institutions and organisations. Today that is no longer the case. Today a great strong blogger whether it’s a fashion blogger or a comedian or a musician can have their own audience which is loyal and consistent and which in a sense listens to them. Bloggers, vloggers are a great sign of what’s happening. For us as a company bloggers are absolutely central to our strategy and one of the reasons why we thought the time for our model has come because we could see that what is a trickle today, will be a storm tomorrow. We engage with them on a daily basis, a lot of bloggers have already adopted the #fame platform.

You engage with several brands on #fame. How has content marketing evolved and what are the trends you see playing out in this area?

We work with over 20 pedigree brands so far across various kinds of content ideas. We work across brands and categories and by the end of the year we are looking at expanding this roster to 50-60 top brands. I see one phenomenon very clearly which is that brands have realised that content marketing is perhaps the highest level of marketing. Brands want to create engaging content, they all have inventory needs, they all have awareness programs and that will continue. So, mainstream inventory media buying is not going to go away. But what brands are realising is that in order to move their core consumer up the value chain they need to engage very differently. And digital plays a very, very important role in that.


What is the kind of ROI that brands are seeing in digital video?

The beauty of digital is that it is not a sample. It’s a census. The fact is when you are going and looking at data from any digital video platform that data is absolute to a great extent. And the kind of analytics that digital provides naturally as a medium is perhaps unmatched by other mediums. So what I personally see and different brands are working at different trajectories, but the ones that are really leading this curve, they have realised that its different horses for different courses. They have realised that television is not going to go away and its importance is categories like GEC and sports is not going to diminish anytime soon. But brands have also realised that if they have to engage and add depth to their brand stories then they have to get on to digital. And they have to create something that is customised and compelling as a format and as an idea. So it’s no more about making a 30-second commercial and a 20-second edit for YouTube – that can’t be a digital strategy. The digital strategy has to be a lot deeper than that. I think some categories and some brands have shown a lot more leadership there and others are perhaps catching on a little bit slowly. But that’s only the natural evolution of the market.

#fame has its own app which it launched in May this year. And its available on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Is there no conflict there?

We do have our videos on YouTube. We don’t see them or Facebook or any other platform as competition. Our app is focussed fundamentally on live streaming. We feel that it’s a complimentary ecosystem. And this is very different from the TV mindset. Classical distribution was built with the idea that you have to build walls. How do you build walls around your content so that you are able to keep the audience captive? The digital mindset is how do you build an ecosystem which is complimentary and audience loyalty. And so, for us, Facebook, YouTube or any other platform, including chat platforms, are all complimentary, not competition. It’s about how we program and what our focus is – the app is obviously central to our distribution strategy but other platforms will continue to play a complimentary role. It’s about working the whole system rather than playing favourites.


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The Maddies 2018 jury meet focuses on impact to select winners

The jury meet on Monday was led by Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Capital

exchange4media News Service 1 hour ago


The Maddies, exchange4media group's annual awards property that honours the best work in mobile advertising, is back. On Monday, the jury, led by Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Capital, screened through 180 entries, on the basis of concept, innovation and execution, to select the winners. But the main focus was impact and the results.


The other members in the jury were Nandan Srinath, Director Response at Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd - The Times of India Group; Kavita Chaturvedi, Head of Marketing & Executive Committee Member, ITC Limited, (Foods Division); Asha Kharga, Chief Marketing Officer, Axis Bank; Gurmit Singh, former VP and MD, Yahoo India; Kaacon Sethi, Chief Corporate Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group; Dippak Khurana, Co-founder and CEO, Vser; Ramakrishnan Laxman, Head of Digital Business, ABP LIVE; Rameet Arora, COO and Head of Digital, HT Digital Streams; Abdul Khan, CEO, 4 Marketing Technology Venture; Anshul Punhani, Chief Marketing Officer-APAC and Gulf, Monster; Navin Khemka, CEO, South Asia, Mediacom; Abraham Alapatt, Group President, Head - Marketing, Service Quality & Innovation, Thomas Cook; Kedar Teny, SR VP, Marketing and OAP, Sony Pictures Networks; and Harshit Desai, Lead-Digital Tranformation, KPMG.

The winners were selected through an extensive selection process. Jury members independently inspected each entry and rated them based on their respective judging criteria.

Talking about the meet, Srinivasan shared that he was fortunate to be with “smart people with great experience and understanding of both the marketing space as well as the mobile marketing space.” He said he was impressed with the entries.


Talking about the entries further, he said, “The entries were a mixed bag; both cutting-edge and some which could have been better. I think we should get a little sharper in defining the entries. Some entries figured in too many categories. So we needed to be sharper with which category the entries were into. It was a very efficient jury process. We were able to easily identify the winners,” he mentioned.

According to Rameet Arora, the quality of entries in the ‘gender equality’ category was truly outstanding, educative and empowering.  
“We had a tough time judging it,” he said. He added, “The conversations in the jury and our ability to separate the wheat from the chaff to pick out the deserving winners were quite fantastic.”

Maddies will be held on October 31.


For more details, click here:


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Reliance to soon acquire controlling stake in Hathway, DEN: Reports

Reports say that RIL is likely to own more than 25 per cent each in the two companies, giving it the ability to control developments and get a seat on the board

exchange4media News Service 2 hours ago

mukesh ambani

Reliance Industries is soon expected to buy controlling stakes in what are two of India’s largest cable TV and broadband service providers, Hathway Cable & Datacom and DEN Networks, say media reports. The move comes at a time when  RIL is all set to ramp up coverage of Jio GigaFiber. 

Reports say that RIL is likely to own more than 25 per cent each in the two companies, giving it the ability to control developments and get a seat on the board. The deal is expected to be announced in the next few days. Both companies have told the stock exchanges that the respective boards are meeting on October 17 to discuss and approve a proposal for raising funds.

With an aim to reach 50 million homes across 1100 cities, Reliance Jio is exploring business opportunities with several MSOs in order to launch it's Gigafiber Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Service in India.

“Reliance Jio was facing problems to roll out its broadband. Since these MSOs have good reach in particular regions, it will be easier for Jio to launch and reach their target audience,” said a senior industry executive to e4m on Monday, October 15. 

On July 5, at Reliance Industries Limited’s 41st AGM, Mukesh D Ambani announced the launch of Jio Giga Fiber, an ultra-high speed fixed line broadband service, for homes and enterprises with a target to reach 50mn homes across 1100 cities. Jio Giga Fibre service will offer ultra high-definition entertainment on large screen TVs, multi-party video conferencing from your living room, voice-activated virtual assistants, virtual reality gaming, digital shopping and immersive experiences.

In May 2017, Jio had begun rolling out beta trials of the FTTH service at select locations in six cities — Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Surat and Vadodara.

Reports say Hathway has over 52 per cent share of the total cable broadband market in India with 0.77 million subscribers and the ability to reach 5.5 million homes. DEN has the ability to reach 0.97 million homes and has 106,000 broadband subscribers. 

Hathway Cable is owned by the Raheja Group while Sameer Manchanda owns DEN Networks. 



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ZEE5 India appoints Taranjeet Singh as CRO and Business Head - New Projects

Singh had quit social media platform Twitter last month where he served as the Country Director. At Zee5, he will report to CEO Tarun Katial.

Madhuwanti Saha 13 hours ago


Twitter's Taranjeet Singh joins ZEE5 India, the streaming service of ZEEL as their new Chief Revenue Officer and Business Head – New Projects.

On the new appointment Tarun Katial, CEO, Zee5, said, “The consumption patterns of the Indian audience are rapidly evolving. Taranjeet’s extensive experience in the media sector across print, television and digital will hold us in good stead in the times to come. His robust track record and insights will go a long way in advancing ZEE5 India’s focus to achieve new milestones.”

Singh shares, “Engaging with the content consumer has been an exciting journey for me. The OTT space is definitely booming and working with a brand like ZEE5 from the ZEE Group, a media powerhouse, is indeed an honor. Within months of launch, the brand is already number two in the OTT space and I am looking forward to joining the team to take it to newer heights.”

Prior to this, Singh was with Twitter where he joined as Business Head and was responsible for boosting Twitter's presence in India. He was leading the charge for sales and marketing support for Twitter's advertisers. In 2017 he was elevated to the position of Country Director for Twitter India.

ZEE5 recorded a growth of 190 per cent compared to April ’18 with 41.3 mn monthly active users (MAU) as revealed by the company during their quarter results of Q2FY19.

Senior Correspondent, exchange4media, Mumbai Madhuwanti reports on marketing, OTT and radio with a focus on trends. Based in Mumbai, she has worked across lifestyle, culture, television and retail industry.


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Millions of contact details, search history stolen in online attack: Facebook

The social media giant has said that only about 30 million users were “actually” affected

exchange4media News Service 3 days ago

facebook logo

An online attack that was believed to have exposed the data of near 50 million Facebook users last month actually affected about 30 million users, the social media giant said as it released details of the leak on Friday night.

“We now know that fewer people were impacted than we originally thought. Of the 50 million people whose access tokens we believed were affected, about 30 million actually had their tokens stolen,” Facebook said.

Explaining in detail how the attack was carried out, the company said that first, the attackers already controlled a set of accounts, which were connected to Facebook friends. They used an automated technique to move from account to account so they could steal the access tokens of those friends, and for friends of those friends, and so on, totalling about 400,000 people. 

The attackers used a portion of these 400,000 people’s lists of friends to steal access tokens for about 30 million people. For 15 million people, attackers accessed two sets of information – name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had on their profiles). For 14 million people, the attackers accessed the same two sets of information, as well as other details people had on their profiles. This included username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches. For 1 million people, the attackers did not access any information, Facebook said.

Explaining how they detected the attack, Facebook said, “We saw an unusual spike of activity that began on September 14, 2018, and we started an investigation. On September 25, we determined this was actually an attack and identified the vulnerability. Within two days, we closed the vulnerability, stopped the attack, and secured people’s accounts by resetting the access tokens for people who were potentially exposed. As a precaution, we also turned off “View As.”

“We’re cooperating with the FBI, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack,” the company added.


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Vivo India appoints Bang in the Middle as digital creative agency: Reports

The agency will work closely with PHD India that won the smartphone brand's digital media duties earlier this year

exchange4media News Service 3 days ago


Bang in the Middle (BITM) has been awarded the digital creative duties for Vivo India, say reports. The agency will work closely with PHD India that won Vivo's digital media duties earlier this year, with the account being managed from Delhi.

Speaking on the appointment, Jerome Chen, CMO, Vivo India, says in a press note released to media organisations, "When we were looking for an agency for our digital mandate, we wanted a team with an exceptional track record in digital capabilities and creative brand campaigns. With the rising digital consumption, it is imperative to create a differentiated online marketing strategy that breaks through the clutter and strengthens recall, preference, and consideration for Vivo products across categories. I am confident that our partnership with both PHD India and BITM will further help Vivo to build greater visibility through unique campaigns."

According to reports, Prathap Suthan, chief creative officer and co-founder, Bang in the Middle, says in a press release, "As an agency, we are more than thrilled to work with Vivo. It's a brand that speaks to its audience using products that clearly redefine the edge of mobile technology and design. And more importantly, Vivo effectively understands and encourages the focus on creating and producing original and distinctive work. It's a brand of these new times, and we are completely keyed up to do great work together."




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WhatsApp may allow ads in 'Status' feature

Through the ‘Status’ feature, users share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs.

exchange4media News Service 4 days ago


Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp may add advertisements to be displayed in the ‘Status’ section of the app, according to media reports.

Through the ‘Status’ feature, users share text, photos, videos and animated GIFs. These, however, disappear after 24 hours.

One of the media reports quoted a tweet from fan-site WABetaInfo that tests Whatsapp features. "WhatsApp beta for Android 2.18.305: WhatsApp is implementing in this version ads for Status. They are not visible yet and the feature will be enabled in future," the tweet reportedly read.

According to earlier reports, the advertisements would be powered by Facebook's native advertising system. Speculations about this have been doing the rounds ever since Facebook acquired WhatsApp.


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How Amazon and Flipkart promise to keep your budgets woes at bay this Diwali

Turns out both ecommerce giants are harping on the word 'budget' to expand their reach and bring the next wave of consumers online. But will it work?

Madhuwanti Saha and Venkata Susmita Biswas 4 days ago


It’s a funny coincidence how this festive season both ecommerce giants- Flipkart and Amazon- are running their large-scaled campaigns themed around a common (shopping) deterrent. That deterrent is budget.

Global ecommerce portal Amazon brought its Great Indian Festival Band on screen and ground with the promise of ‘Ab khushiyon ke beech budget nahi aayega, poora India, Great Indian Festival manayega (now budget will not come in the way of happiness, India will celebrate the Great Indian Festival).’ Meanwhile homegrown marketplace Flipkart, which is flush with $16 billion from US retail giant Walmart, has top celebrities Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Saina Nehwal, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni etc advising consumers how ‘The Big Billion Days(BBD)’ sale makes them ‘budget se mukt’ (free from budget). Both sales kicked off on October 10.

For Ravi Desai-Director, Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India, there is constant endeavour to make “shopping more affordable and within the reach of every family’s festive budget.”

“Customers can save more while shopping and not feel constrained by budgets this season. Our programs such as Amazon Pay EMI, no-cost EMI on Debit & Credit cards & Exchange will make shopping on even more special and valuable,” shares Desai.

Kunal Dubey Director - Brand Marketing + Media Head, Flipkart highlighted the fact that since budget ‘has always been this monster on our back’ it led to ‘Ab India Hoga Budget Se Mukt’ campaign.’

But Flipkart took their campaign a notch higher by leveraging on Indians’ love for bargaining. This is a voice-enabled bargaining experience the portal provides in partnership with Google Zoo on Google Assistant that lets consumer negotiate for different products listed on the online marketplace directly using their voice.

Talking about previous years’ themes, Dubey mentioned of keeping guardrails for BBD. He shares, “These are: it needs to be colloquial, it needs to match the stature of BBD and its scale, and it needs to solve people's shopping needs. In 2016 – ‘Itne Main Itnaaa Milega’ (when the norm is itne main sirf itna hi milta hai) and in 2017 it was ‘Ab mehengaai giregi’ (when inflation is the one thing that the nation cribs about). In both these cases we presented campaign ideas where our intention was to see how we could come up with something that showcases that during BBD the value of the money goes up. Rs 100 should look like Rs 1000.”

Tapping the hinterlands

It’s a no brainer that the next wave of economic growth for brands is coming from the hinterlands as India’s metropolitan consumer reach is nearing a saturation point. Also, ecommerce is the default shopping mode only in big cities which explains its tiny 2-4 per cent contribution to India’s retail sector.   

Amazon and Flipkart are on course to change that and bring their next billion consumers online. This clearly explains Flipkart’s strategy of roping in regional stars, namely Prosenjit (Bengali), Tammannah Bhatia (Tamil), Mahesh Babu (Telugu), Yash (Kannada) and Mahesh Manjrekar (Marathi) in their commercials in order to catch the attention of consumers in regional markets. It has been pursuing aggressive 360 degree marketing strategy for its fifth edition of BBD with couple of hundred TVCs and few million digital videos apart from OOH, print and radio.

On the other hand, Desai shared that like previous year Amazon is following ‘a two-pronged strategy targeting the Rest of India and the South separately.’ So there lies the expectation of a significant jump in the number of consumers from these region. He shares, “In this campaign as well has picked up something that is peculiarly Indian, a band, which is symbol of celebration and happiness across India. With this campaign, hopes to welcome millions of new customers and have also launched a Hindi app as a red carpet to them.”

Flipkart and Amazon are expected to record sales of $2.5-3 billion during the five-day event this year, according to Redseer estimates. Only time will tell if the Indian arm of the global ecommerce portal will be able to edge past its Indian-based rival that has been forging ahead during festive sales for the past two years.

Expert speak

Brand experts feel confident that the ecommerce giants will be able to get the tier-II and III geographies to shop online. For Harish Bijoor, Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, Flipkart already has its ‘early set of customers in its kitty’ from urban markets (who have already been reached out through digital). “As far as new customers (also the next level of tier-II towns) are concerned they have to be reached out through traditional media. It’s essentially a ladder which ecommerce companies will use going forward.”

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, says, “Each one is advertising the category more than themselves. Having said that Flipkart will stand out for sure for the icons they have used.”

Kiran Khalap, Co-founder & MD, Chlorophyll, points out that more than the content of advertising is their preparedness to deliver on-ground. He adds, “This they have attempted through assisted e-commerce, where local retail shops help rural consumers choose from Amazon catalogues, place the order on-line and then fulfill the order. (Amazon announced that they now reach all 19100 pin code areas in India).”

For Khalap a lot still remains to be done. He points out where they lag, “What the e-commerce companies have not been able to cope in communication is local language communication: 95 per cent of video consumption online is in Indian languages and voice-based search has grown by 270 per cent. So the advertising campaigns are the tip of ice-berg. e-commerce giants will have to work hard to customise content (even web sites and catalogues) to local tastes and new voice-based users.”



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Google India advertising business contributes 69% to Rs 9,338 crore revenue in 2017-18

Net profit was higher by about 33 per cent at Rs 407.2 crore as compared to Rs 306.6 crore in the previous year

exchange4media News Service 4 days ago


Google India revenues have grown 29 per cent to about Rs 9,338 crore in 2017-18 over Rs 7,239.5 crore in 2016-17, according to Registrar of Companies filing shared by market intelligence firm Tofler. The net profit was higher by about 33 per cent at Rs 407.2 crore as compared to Rs 306.6 crore in the previous year.

Google India’s total expenses rose nearly 29 per cent to Rs 8,710.9 crore from Rs 6,760.4 crore in 2016-17 as it continues to invest heavily in the fiercely competitive Indian market.

According to the filing, advertising revenue contributed about 69 per cent of the company’s turnover, while the share of IT-enabled services stood at 18 per cent and that of IT services was at 13 per cent. According to the DAN e4m digital report, the digital advertising marketing in India is expected to be worth Rs 10,852 Cr. Google now makes up nearly 60% of that with the tech giant earning as much as Rs 6443 Cr from India in ad revenue alone.

During 2017-18, Google India made 10 CSR grants, totalling about Rs 20.3 crore to NGOs working to improve the quality of education, and for safety of children.


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Facebook announces strategic partnership with Httpool in the Balkan region

To support local businesses, Httpool is now the official reseller partner for Facebook in the Balkans including Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia

exchange4media News Service 4 days ago

Facebook Httpool

Httpool, a subsidiary of Internet Media Services (IMS), and Facebook announce strategic partnership in the Balkan region. Httpool is now the official reseller partner for Facebook in the Balkans, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Httpool, is the international cross channel advertising network that offers broadest range of ad network products and solutions across display, video, engagement, social and performance channels. Facebook recognises the opportunity for this long-term partnership to aid local agencies and advertisers in reaching greater audiences and engaging with users, improving potential of the local businesses.

Httpool, as the new Facebook’s official ad sales partner, will provide support, knowledge and expertise to local businesses and assist them with marketing strategies across Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. The goal of the cooperation is to provide in-country support to advertisers in Balkans by a partner with a strong position, expertise and a proven track record in the region.

“We’ve designed our reseller program to bring all of our knowledge and expertise to advertisers in countries in the Balkan region where Facebook doesn’t have a physical presence. Today we are excited to go one step further to add even more value to businesses in the region,” said Robert Bednarski, Country Director, CEE, Facebook.

“This partnership is another proof of Httpool’s leading position and successful execution in the region. We are excited to assist Facebook in introducing the latest advertising solutions to the region and provide brands and agencies a first-hand support at the highest execution level,” said Aljosa Jenko, Founder and CEO, Httpool.

The partnership will introduce Facebook’s best practices, training, strategy development techniques and local payment options to the region with the help of Httpool’s expert advertising operations processes. Agencies will further benefit from team trainings, direct billing and direct support with advertisement policy issues.

“Advertisers in the region use Facebook and Instagram to connect with their audiences in meaningful ways. Thanks to the strategic partnership with Httpool we will be more useful to them providing specially designed trainings and experts’ support,” commented Rustam Ziganshin, Reseller Partner CEE at Facebook.


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2018 a turning point for original content on OTT

Netflix is said to have dedicated Rs 600 cr per year for original content in India and Amazon committed Rs 2,230 cr last year, which is expected to be allocated over two-three years

Madhuwanti Saha 6 days ago

OTT original content

If year 2017 was about a dramatic increase in the number of subscribers in the OTT space, 2018 will definitely be remembered for the robust growth in content production.

Global streaming service Netflix has reportedly dedicated close to Rs 600 crore per year for original content in India. Similarly, Amazon committed a bulk figure of Rs 2,230 crore for original Indian content in 2017, expected to be allocated over the course of two-three years. Coming to the local platforms, Balaji Telefilms’ ALTBalaji intends to invest up to Rs 500 crore over the next three years, majority of which will be dedicated to strengthening its content offerings. Also, ZEE5, launched early this year, has so far released 15 originals across six languages. Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of ZEEL, in a recent interview said that “a lion’s share” of their investments for the next two-three years will be in the digital space.

Content Scaling Up

The increase in the investment has resulted in a significant increase in the scale and quality of content production. Now almost all players, from the global giants to local players, are working on long-form content.

Monika Shergill, EVP & Head, Content, Viacom18 Digital Ventures agrees. “The year 2018 shows us the early signs of the power and the scale at which OTT platforms will be operating. It’s the year when large-format content has come out at a scale reflecting the global standards. It has been the most defining year, as it gives us a sense of how big this market is going to be in the coming years.”

According to Shergill, the tremendous growth of OTT platforms has been driven by their unique position to offer personalised entertainment to the consumer at their convenience.

Zulfiqar Khan, Managing Director, Hooq, too agrees that year 2018 should be known as the inflection point for content. He believes that the real content play started playing up post mid-2018 and now there’s no stopping back.

“If we have to categorise it year-wise, 2017 was the inflection point for infrastructure, with Jio making internet available and accessible to all. Year 2018 should be known as the inflection point for content. There’s no stopping back,” says Khan.

Beginning last month, Hooq, with the tagline ‘Home for Hollywood,’ is offering big-ticket American shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Arrow, SWAT, The Oath, Flash on the same day as their overseas release.

This lapping up of content is bringing in subscription and advertising revenue, says Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head – Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN).

“It’s true for most of us (OTT players). We are seeing a significant movement in consumption--in terms of time spent, overall quality of content and the number of users coming to our app. As a result, there is also a significant transaction on the subscription side. Advertising has seen a strong growth. For instance, FIFA World Cup had 36 sponsors. Therefore, we will continue to ramp up our investment on content," Sodhi added.

The changing environment has also brought about a change in the type of content being produced. According to Ajay Chacko, Co-Founder and CEO, Arre, long-form & quality shows and franchises with multiple seasons have become the preferred format as against the early-day trend of short form/snacky/ UGC content.”

The year, meanwhile, also saw a proliferation of original regional content, with players like Viu India venturing into the Tamil market and ZEE5 & Sony LIV launching in different languages.

Talking about the boost that the regional markets have given to the OTT players, Bimal Unnikrishnan, Content Head, Viu India, says, “The proliferation of localised regional content also saw an upward rising trend which dominated the video consumption at large. The consumption of content on the digital medium started gaining immense momentum with the advent of regional expansion by these OTT platforms.”

According to Ali Hussein, COO, Eros Digital this production of quality content had to eventually happen.

“Content production has a cycle of 12-18 months. Unless the planning started in 2016-17, players wouldn’t have be able to deliver products in 2018,” he says.

“From the technology standpoint, there’s been an evolution of how content has been served to offer different experiences. From business point, it’s fantastic as we see a healthy balance among telecoms, distributors, content partners and production,” he adds.

Ample scope of work

India’s diverse demographics give OTT players in India ample scope to work with several production houses, independent directors and content creators to offer differentiated yet targeted offering.

For instance, Netflix has partnered with Pocket Aces' web series division Dice Media to create scripted shows. Last week, its popular series ‘Little Things Season 2’ made its debut on the OTT platform. The content company has five shows lined up with different OTT platforms. It also has content from The Viral Fever (TVF).

Talking about the reasons behind OTT players joining hands with content creators, Ashwin Suresh, Founder, Pocket Aces, points out that these platforms want to associate with the younger audience by creating content of their choice.

“OTTs have realised that to capitalise on a younger audience, they need to create content that resonates with them. The most obvious way to do it is to tie up with content companies that have been creating content for this audience for a long time and understand the tone and the grammar of content creation on digital. It's a natural fit for them. So more and more OTTs will start to come to creators like us.”

Arre has 130-140 hours of original content on pre-production, scheduled to roll out from this month onwards. This includes seven shows of its own (on Arre and other platforms) and seven on the studio side commissioned for other OTT platforms.

With so many hours of programming to be rolled out, the content game has just begun. This has set the foundations for bigger scale and quality content, making the future of the OTT industry bright, as Vijay Subramanium, Director & Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video, India, sums up, “There is a significant customer demand for entertainment. India’s streaming video space is growing rapidly, primarily driven by growth in mobile broadband, lower data charges and significant investments in the digital media ecosystem. The future of the streaming industry looks bright.”

Senior Correspondent, exchange4media, Mumbai Madhuwanti reports on marketing, OTT and radio with a focus on trends. Based in Mumbai, she has worked across lifestyle, culture, television and retail industry.


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