We are trying to build something clean, brand safe & long term: Sunil Nair, Firework

Nair, CEO and MD, Firework India, talks abou their business model and the way forward

e4m by Dipali Banka
Updated: Jun 9, 2020 9:18 AM

A decentralised short video network, Firework TV is offering innovative content and brand visibility solutions across its publisher network in India. Launched in October 2019, the platform is also looking at partnerships with e-commerce companies as part of its revenue model. We speak with Sunil Nair, CEO and MD, Firework India, to understand the business model and the way forward.


What is the concept of Firework TV and how are you positioning it in the country?
Firework is a short video network. We are a decentralised platform where we work with audiences that exist in clusters and environment that are not based on app. Our content comes from professional creators and is available across a wide network of publishers. We don’t focus on an app as a destination. Less than 3 per cent of our consumption happens through an app. The app is a creator tool which allows you to shoot horizontal and vertical video simultaneously, which we call Reveal. We are available on mobile phones as a native app, smart TVs, telecom networks and publisher sites. We are going live with Vodafone in couple of weeks and talks with Samsung and Airtel are on. We also provide e-commerce companies short vertical format videos which their customers can view on their websites.

What are the various revenue formats or models that you have in place for brands and marketers?
We have a grid where, in one unit, you can run an ad on the basis of cost per view. The grid allows us to do a lot more. On one bar, we can showcase an e-commerce affiliate product where we get the revenue share of the sale. Other two bars are what we call Audience Extension Programme where content can be put up by brands across our 118 network publishers and revenue is decided on the basis of videos watched. And lastly, we have branded content which is a big category that is being built right now. We started ad sales about two and half months ago.

Do you plan to bring influencers on your platform?
At present, the only person of certain amount of influence we have on the platform is journalist and TV anchor, Faye D’souza. We have traditionally, across the board, stayed away from this influencer-led activation. We did work with a few influencers when we started off two years ago, but what we quickly realised that an influencer comes in and brings a certain burst and daily active user count goes up. And when the influencer goes away, the daily active is gone. We as a company are trying to build something clean, brand safe and long term. We are not chasing spurts in daily active users because some creator said something controversial and a whole bunch of people are either trolling or are either for or against. So we work with storytellers to create these 30-second storyboards. In 30 seconds, one can tell a good story. I would be ambitious to say this but we might actually have a bunch of storytellers coming out of the Firework platform who are not depending upon negativity in any manner.

In India you started operations in October 2019. How have the initial two three months and the last two three months been? What difference have you noticed?
The initial two-three months was about building the team. We are now 45 people spread across Mumbai, Bangalore and Gurgaon working across business operations. We were one of the few companies that started working from home from March 8 onwards. And in lockdown, we have actually added 22 people on board and I am proud of my team for that.
In terms of ad spends, the big splash campaigns are ofcourse not there. A lot of budgets have been pulled back. But there is a big surge of the smaller tactical ones like subscription service, insurance services, health and wellness and online education and skilling, they have all be very active.
One of the things that we have not begun to offer is for a brand to own the network and run an entire activation on the network spaces. This has storytelling, brand visibility and engagement with the consumers which goes beyond a simple banner sale. We opened this up just at the beginning of the pandemic in Japan and it worked really well there. Now we are bringing it to India and will be available in the next couple of weeks.

There is a lot of content available across various platforms. How do you carve out space for Firework content? What is your challenge here?
The challenge is twofold. We are talking about 550-600 million smartphone users in the country. Part of these are data consumers who just watch videos and connect over social media. And then there are around 100 million out of this who actually transact online. What we are looking at is a balance between the two. We are looking at this transacting and the more premium mass audience as the base for us to build. And that audience really values quality content. And hence the differentiator for us or any OTT or video led platform would be quality content on an ongoing basis.

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