Six social media alternatives for brands in 2014

Facebook and Twitter are the current darlings of brands, but there are a number of other options available. exchange4media takes a look at some of them & the opportunities that they provide

e4m by Abhinna Shreshtha
Published: Jan 8, 2014 9:31 AM  | 8 min read
Six social media alternatives for brands in 2014

The internet is bursting with social networks. Facebook and Twitter are the current darlings of brands, but there are a number of other options available. exchange4media takes a look at six social media platforms that should feature in your digital marketing plans this year.

Tumblr - Number of users in India – 1,855,000
Tumblr is one of the fastest growing social networks in India. According to comScore, the micro blogging platform saw an 130 per cent increase in its user base between March 2012 and March 2013. Compare that with Facebook, which grew 28 per cent in the same period. Tumblr’s basic premise is the promise of discovering great content and if you are a creative marketer, Tumblr, with its ability to post images, audio and video, is manna from heaven. Also, brands can share not only their own content but posts about them from other blogs.  Users can also ‘reblog’ interesting posts, which is akin to the ‘share’ feature on Facebook and ‘retweet’ feature on Twitter. However, Tumblr’s features focus on users being more visual than garrulous; so it might not be everybody’s cup of tea.

Ebay’s Tumblr account is a good example of how the brand focuses on great content, including videos, images and audio. Posting a video of two guys who built a car of Lego bricks, eBay adds a link to its own website where visitors can buy Lego products from. CNET also uses Tumblr to share interesting stories from the world of technology and science. Primarily utilizing images, and the occasional GIFs, it plays on the user’s curiosity, who can then follow the link to the main story on CNET’s website.

Pinterest  - Number of users in India: 1,514,000
Pinterest is one brand that has captured the attention of digital marketers worldwide in the past couple of years. Already listed among the top sharing destinations online, even surpassing Twitter and Facebook in some verticals, it has also seen explosive growth in India in the last 12 months. comScore estimates that Pinterest’s user base in the country grew by a staggering 589 per cent between March 2012 and March 2013. Internationally, the photo and other content sharing platform is widely accepted as a top referrer for e-commerce websites. A September 2013 report by Business Insider claimed Pinterest contributes 23 per cent of social generated e-commerce sales in the United States, as compared to Facebook’s 28 per cent. Not bad, when you consider that in 2012 this number stood at 2 per cent, while Facebook contributed to nearly 51 per cent of all e-commerce sales generated through social media.

Interestingly, for both brands and users, the people behind Pinterest seem to have realised the inherent opportunities that the platform has for e-commerce and marketing. Last year, Pinterest launched an analytics tool to allow brands to track the effectiveness of their posts or ‘pins’. Another feature introduced recently is ‘rich pins’, which allows users to get additional information like product pricing and availability when they click on a pin. The company is also experimenting with ‘promoted pins’, which will allow more targeted reach for brands.

If you want to check out some brands that are carrying out interesting campaigns on Pinterest, be sure to see Peugot’s Pinterest Puzzle Challenge, which the company carried out in 2012. The French car maker created several boards depicting different models with some pieces missing. People could search for and find these pieces, pin them on their own boards and share it with Peugeot, with prices going to the first five submissions.

Google + - Number of users in India: 2,200,000
One will be forgiven for having written off Google + as another failed experiment by Google but it seems Google’s latest social media platform has seen something of a resurgence in recent months. Google said last October that Google+ had seen a 58 per cent jump in users in the past 6 months and this is just part of the amazing turnaround that has been witnessed in the last year or so. Currently, Google+ has upwards of 300 million active users monthly (A recent report from Internet analytics firm GlobalWebIndex puts the number of active Google+ users close to 360 million, second only to Facebook). According to GPlusData, India has around 2.2 million active users.

What works for Google+ is its integration with other Google services, primarily YouTube (which the company seems to be pushing). Plus (pun unintended), don’t forget that it has the power of the world’s most powerful search engine behind it. The SEO-related importance of this can hardly be understated, especially with the new promoted posts feature, ‘+Post’, which allows ad placements across the Google ad network while driving engagement back to the advertisers Google+ profile. Google Hangouts, which allows a user to video chat with up to 10 others, is another feature that marketers could look at. An extension to this is Google Helpouts, which allows content creators to reach out to consumers in the form of videos, which can range from fashion advice or tips on selecting the best security camera. Think about the potential this has for a brand in customer care and post sales help.

With most social networking platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, reaching the right audience requires some effort on the part of the marketer. With Google’s Circles, brands have a ready method of dividing their audience in terms of location, demographics, etc. ESPN is one brand that utilizes Google+ brilliantly. On its page are memorable sporting moments, hangouts with athletes and ESPN journalists and some light-hearted and witty banter. Google+ had a rough start to its young life but 2014 could be a breakout year for it and the brands that advertise on it.

Quora - Number of users in India: Unavailable
What do you expect from your social media activities? The ability to reach the target audience, brand visibility, engagement and, if possible, a bit of CRM added to the mix. Quora is one of the more interesting social media platforms the internet has given birth to in a while. In a very basic sense, Quora is a Q&A website. You ask questions, people who know about it or are interested in the topic, answer and the conversation continues. Unlike sites like Facebook, users only know each other through common interests and their answers; give good answers and your value goes up and you get more visibility. Also, interestingly enough, internet watchdog Alexa states that 30.8 per cent of the traffic on Quora comes from India, more than any other country in the world.

So, how can brands leverage Quora? Well, one thing to keep in mind is that Quora does not appreciate overt marketing so you will have to be more sublime about it. More important than the marketing perspective is the fact that it allows you to understand the pulse of your consumer much better than other platforms, perhaps barring Twitter. For example, if someone posts a question about the best coffee to be found around New Delhi, as a manager for a coffee chain, your spider-sense should tingle. Of course, most of the questions are more highbrow than this, which, in fact, makes for better engagement with the audience. Quora is especially useful for SMEs and smaller brands who might not have the financial muscle to carry out in-depth customer feedback exercises. Also, since you have the option to only connect with people with similar interests, you can reach out to an even more targeted audience. Quora is also probably the only social networking website that can potentially allow you to interact with a college student, a retiree or a CEO on the same post. After all, it’s all about opinions and everyone has one.

Instagram & Vine

Number of users in India: Not available (globally both boast of active users in the 140-150 million bracket)

It makes sense to put Facebook’s Instagram and Twitter’s Vine in one category. Both have the basic premise; of creating short, creative videos (15 seconds for Instagram and six seconds for Twitter). In fact, it is widely believed that Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram was a direct challenge to the launch of Vine. Though Instagram originally started off as a photo-sharing application, similar to Pinterest, it was the launch of its video feature last year that caught everyone’s attention. With the launch of Vine, both the platforms saw a tremendous surge in popularity with users and big brands jumping at the change to create innovative, short videos. With online videos expected to be the biggest ad revenue earners in 2014, it will be interesting to see how these two platforms continue to evolve. Instagram has already started experimenting with paid ads, while Vine, for now, is seemingly staying away from paid advertisements on its feed, though this could change soon.

Major brands such as Mountain Dew, Virgin Mobile and MTV India have already used Vine for promotions. Instagram has also been a favourite of advertisers, but the launch of the new video content has given them even more opportunities as seen in the Armani campaign to launch its new perfume, Si. Expect a lot more buzz around these two in 2014.

Watch the Revlon India Vine ad... 

Watch the Mountain Dew Vine ad... 

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Mark Zuckerberg announces new WhatsApp app for Windows

The app will enable group video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 3:25 PM   |   1 min read


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new WhatsApp app for Windows, which will enable group video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people - all from your desktop.

Making the announceemnt on Facebook, he wrote, “Launching a new WhatsApp desktop app for Windows. Now you can make E2E encrypted video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people.”

“The new Windows desktop app loads faster and is built with an interface familiar to WhatsApp and Windows users. You can host group video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people. We’ll continue to increase these limits over time so you can always stay connected with friends, family and work colleagues.

Since introducing new multi-device capabilities, we’ve listened to feedback and made improvements including faster device linking and better syncing across devices, as well as new features such as link previews and stickers.

As we continue to increase the number of devices which support WhatsApp, we’ve just introduced a new WhatsApp beta experience for Android tablets. We’re also launching a new, faster app for Mac desktops that is currently in the early stages of beta,” he wrote further.

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MarTech can brilliantly answer the ROI question: Hareesh Tibrewala

The Joint CEO of Mirum India spoke to e4m Editor Naziya Alvi Rahman on a host of questions with respect to the India MarTech Report 2023 that will be unveiled at the e4m Pitch CMO Summit today

By Naziya Alvi Rahman | Mar 23, 2023 2:41 PM   |   1 min read


Hareesh Tibrewala spoke to e4m on a host of issues related to MarTech while delving deep into the India MarTech Report. He started by addressing the roadblocks in the implementation of MarTech in the country.

He also explained the point about MarTech explorers in terms of the sectors, which is invested in this marketing technique.

Tibrewala further spoke about how martech was critical in the role of a marketer and how it could be extremely significant for calculating ROI.

The conversation also veered toward the importance of MarTech in the cookie-less world and the advent of Web3.

Watch the entire conversation here.

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Google opens up access to Bard

In a blogpost, Google said that Bard could provide tips or explain several posts

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 1:07 PM   |   1 min read


Google has said that it is opening up access to Bard, the ChatGPT competitor, as per media reports.

The tech major will be expanding the access to Bard in more countries and languages.

In a blogpost, Google said that Bard could provide tips or explain several posts.

Google unveiled Bard in February. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the soft launch of the AI to "trusted testers". 

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MarTech no longer only about marketing, it needs to drive sales: Mirum India report

The survey for the report shows 88% of respondents expect to increase spending on MarTech over the next 3 years

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 12:43 PM   |   2 min read


Mirum India, a Wunderman Thompson company, has put together a report on the emerging MarTech landscape in India.

The report captures how MarTech solutions are being utilized by brands to effectively communicate their brand messages to the right set of audiences at the right time.

The report highlights that while the global spend on MarTech solutions is around 25% of the total marketing budget, in India, majority organizations spend less than 15%, indicating significant potential for growth. With MarTech spending set to increase across company sizes and sectors, 88% of respondents expect to increase their MarTech spending over the next three years. The report also emphasizes the need for brands and organizations to work with growth partners as preferred by MarTech HEROES, focusing on ROI, and delivering value to the brands.

The report will be unveiled on March 24, 2023, at the e4m Pitch CMO Summit in Mumbai. The summit will see India's most reputed brands and top management coming under one roof to interact and share insights on their game-changing success stories.

Speaking on the report, Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO – Mirum India, said, "The estimated size of the MarTech industry in India is expected to be between $35bn and $50bn by 2026, presenting a sizeable opportunity for businesses. Our latest report highlights how brands are using MarTech solutions to effectively deliver the right brand message to the right customer at the right time, creating fabulous customer experiences and increasing brand loyalty. It is interesting to note that marketers globally spend 25% of their budgets on MarTech solutions, and our report shows the emergence of MarTech EXPLORERS, who are keen to leverage the power of MarTech. This presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to grow and thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape."

CVL Srinivas, Country Manager – WPP India said, "To succeed in the rapidly evolving tech and data driven world, organizations need good marketing automation tools and diverse skill sets. The report highlights the need for growth partners, preferred by MarTech HEROES, to ensure strong ROI for clients. It brings clarity to the ecosystem and presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to create fantastic customer experiences and increase brand loyalty. At WPP, we've invested heavily in building our tech and data practices, creating a comprehensive ecosystem where value is delivered at every touchpoint."

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Why contextual advertising is making a comeback

As part of e4m TechTalk, Dimpy Yadav, General Manager - Xaxis India, writes contextual advertising is re-emerging for delivering relevant & targeted messages to India’s audiences

By Dimpy Yadav | Mar 23, 2023 9:18 AM   |   4 min read


For years, contextual advertising has taken a back seat in favour of hyper-personalised behavioural targeting. But with tightening regulations and deepening concerns around data privacy, contextual advertising is reasserting its place within India’s marketing ecosystem. And it’s about time too.

Contextual advertisement placement is a proven marketing strategy that dates back to the very origins of the modern industry. In today’s digitised world, this tactic involves showing ads that are directly relevant to the content that a user is viewing or even to the user themselves. They can align contextually with anything from a web page to a geographic location or even the weather.

So why is contextual advertising making a comeback in India in 2023? And how can the nation’s marketers and agencies rise to this new digital challenge?

The right context

It’s been seven years since the Indian government launched its digital India campaign and the nation’s digital economy has grown at a phenomenal rate – 2.4 times faster than the overall economy between 2014 and 2019.

Meanwhile, smartphones have become more affordable, internet infrastructure has expanded, and data has become significantly cheaper. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the adoption of digital interactions has accelerated even further, with food deliveries, telemedicine, and online gaming surging in first-time usage.

For marketers, digital and mobile media have become more accessible and cost-effective mediums. This year, advertising spending on mobile is expected to comprise 78 per cent of India’s total digital media expenditure. According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending in India grew YoY by 35.9 per cent in 2021 and is forecasted to grow by 28.4 per cent in 2022

India’s digital explosion comes amid a tectonic shift away from the third-party data collection that marketers have relied on for years. Consumers have become more cautious about the data they share online while global regulations around data collection like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have constrained brands’ unfettered access to personal data. In this climate, contextual advertising, which leverages the content of the environment instead of the personal data of its visitors, serves as a privacy-friendly alternative.

A loyal audience

One of the key criticisms of social media over recent years is the potential to miss or misuse key contextual information. Although social media gives brands access to massive audiences, campaigns can easily fall flat if they aren’t executed in just the right context. Even the best creative cannot drive engagement when it appears in an irrelevant or inappropriate environment.

But that dependence on its environment is also one of contextual advertising’s greatest strengths. When utilized in partnership with established publications, it capitalizes on the built-in trust and loyalty that those outlets already enjoy with their audiences. When a receptive audience is combined with the modern capabilities of global scale, digital precision, and algorithmic efficiency, the results can be powerful.

Trust in context

Improvements in targeting capabilities and data analysis have also made it possible for advertisers to target audiences through keywords and topics as well as demographics and interests. Marketers can meanwhile be selective about the types of content they want their ads to run alongside, reserving their investments for audiences that are more likely to take an interest in their products and, therefore, more likely to engage with them. For these reasons, they can feel confident that their content will be well received and their investments will be profitable.

Still, marketing based on context may be a difficult transition for industry leaders who are more familiar and comfortable with behavioural targeting. But it’s hard to argue that the shift towards a contextual mindset will be anything short of necessary and more than likely fruitful. Recent research by Integral Ad Science (IAS) revealed that Indian consumers are more likely to positively receive and remember contextually relevant ads.

Last but not least, contextual advertising will aid marketers in the desired outcome from their campaign. According to a study conducted by IAS and personal computer manufacturer HP, purchase intent was 14 per cent higher among consumers who viewed the in-context ad. In addition, consumers reported a 5 per cent increase in positivity toward the HP brand after seeing an in-context ad

As third-party personal data is becoming less accessible, contextual advertising is growing more sophisticated, giving marketers the power to meet receptive audiences with relevant content. That’s a fundamentally sound path to success that benefits both brands and consumers alike.

Most significantly of all, it has the potential to transform digital media investments into real-world business outcomes. Although the value of premium publishing has always existed, marketers are now able to prove its success with clarity and maximum return on expenditure.

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Brands can be the real winners as gaming firms hit the jackpot with innovative games

Indian gaming firms received $1.4 billion investment over the past five years. This opens up huge opportunities for advertisers

By Kanchan Srivastava | Mar 23, 2023 8:55 AM   |   4 min read


The Indian gaming ecosystem, which boasts of more than 1,100 startups and a 40 crore-strong gaming communities, is thriving like never before.  With their unique offerings such as NFT-based games, fantasy sports, real-money games and cash prizes, home-grown firms have gained popularity across the globe. Over 86 Indian firms have received $1.4 billion investment over the past five years, including two unicorns and seven soonicorns, according to a latest report of the research firm Tracxn. 

Globally, gaming firms received $20.4B funds over the past five years. Of this, India’s share is roughly 6.8%. The United States (42.2%) Chinese (18.3%) firms got the lion’s share. 

Fantasy sports platform MPL ($150 million), which is a unicorn, is among top 10 funded companies globally over the last 2 years. Games24x7, another Unicorn from India, also received $75 million. 

Soonicorns like Zupee ($72 M), WinZO ($65 M), Hike (NFT gaming, $261 M), JetSynthesys, Octro, EloElo and Games2win also bagged the jackpot. Even four early stage startups-Bombay Play, One World Nation, Studio Sirah, Awon Gamez-have also managed to win their first rounds of funding over the last year. 

Even as the cryptocurrency sector across the world tanked, Venture capitalists have shown keen interests in Indian Web3 gaming startups that offer play-to-earn (P2E) entertainment and use crypto coins and NFTs for transactions. Companies with blockchain-based offerings pocketed $620 mn in 2022. Gurugram-based Rario, Bengaluru-based and Delhi-based Hike are among them, Tracxn data says. Hike pivoted from instant messaging to social, gaming, and crypto in 2021 only. 

“Indian gaming companies have been building local products with capabilities to cater to mobile-gaming markets across the world. Gaming as a category has shown itself to be driven by a highly monetizable audience base: one that tends to spend a lot of time on content and online engagement, is likely to be a trend-setter, has the propensity to spend and is often the chief purchase influencer in his/her family and friend circle,” opines Piyush Kumar, Founder & CEO, Rooter - Gaming and Esports Content platform. 

He further noted, “Indian gaming startups have been quick to encash this opportunity. Gaming content platforms like ours are building scalable, tech-driven, revenue-generating models that have garnered interest from marquee global investors.”

According to Rohit Agarwal, Founder & Director, Alpha Zegus,

“Since gaming is an industry that is completely digitally led, there is an almost infinite reserve of digital content that can be converted into NFTs. Also, the gaming audience is more tech-driven and understands the concept of NFT quite easily. These two factors give the NFT-based gaming industry a big advantage.”

Karan Taurani, senior VP of Elara Capital, echoes the sentiments.  “Indian gaming companies have quickly realized the shift of casual gamers towards real-money games. Web3 gaming is a far more sustainable ecosystem for both players and gaming companies and hence there are huge growth opportunities. Investors know this fact.”

Big opportunity for brands 

Such overwhelming investment in the Indian gaming startups opens up a huge opportunity for advertisers. Most of the gamers are young and have a significant purchasing power. 

The Indian online gaming industry is estimated to grow to more than Rs 15,000 crore in 2023, representing a CAGR of nearly 22%,  as per the latest 'India Online Gaming Report' of GroupM. 

“Most of the potential of this platform is still unutilised”, an advertising executive said. He added, “Gaming platforms offer tremendous scope such as in-app advertising, brand integration, rewards and advergaming. Brands can also reach their target audience through communities, e-sport tournaments, team associations, NFTs and influencers.”

The in-game advertising market globally is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7% to reach about US$220 billion by 2027, almost two-fold compared to 2020, according to a report of Research and Markets.


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How Nikhil Gandhi led strategic growth for MX Player

Gandhi, who has stepped down as COO, had three focus areas to drive the platform’s evolution when he took over the role two years back

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 8:24 AM   |   2 min read


Nikhil Gandhi, who stepped down as the Chief Operating Officer of MX Player on Wednesday, has the credit of leading the OTT platform for two years with a specialised business strategy.

Gandhi made a mark with his team leadership, brand management, and strategies for generating revenue through digital content.

When Gandhi joined MX Player from TikTok, he was clear on three key areas for growth. The first was to grow users in India and internationally and expand MX Player’s markets by increasing the watch time on the app. Secondly, he spoke of deploying data in creating strategies for content and the third area was to identify new business areas. Gandhi had spoken about these key focus points in an interview with e4m in May 2022.

With Gandhi at the helm, MX Player emerged as the fastest-growing OTT platform in India. As per’s “State of Mobile Report”, released in January this year, MX Player was India’s most-downloaded OTT app and the third most-downloaded worldwide in 2022.

Industry observers shared that Gandhi had bigger plans. “He has been striving to take the AVOD model to the next level and crack the Bharat market, which largely relies on cost-free entertainment options,” an industry expert said.

He was also instrumental in acquiring the Lionsgate library for international content, industry sources said.

MX Player has over 650 advertisers on its platform, Gandhi had said last December, explaining how his “team goes into smaller markets and gets new advertisers”.

Under his leadership, the platform was able to launch several new initiatives in the last one and a half years. Among them was MX Advantage, the self-serve ad platform targeted at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It allows new advertisers to log in and place ads on the platform. MX Player also helps brands design their ads.

Another feature, launched in October 2022, was MX Live. It helped creators monetise content. MX Live works on a D2C model that allows content creators to interact with fans through live sessions. Users can even buy MX coins and MX tokens.

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