We plan to double our 50mn+ active user base by year-end: Harshil Dhingra, Public App

Dhingra, Chief Business Officer of Public App, says that the Chinese app ban didn't dent the app's popularity since it operates on an entirely different segment

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Mar 30, 2021 2:38 PM
harshil dhingra

With a strong user base of over 50 million active users, location-based social network Public App is not only working towards doubling the user count, but also monetizing the platform. Harshil Dhingra, Chief Business Officer of Public App, talks to e4m about getting brands such as Amazon Prime Video, GSK, Swiggy, Rebel Food, Skoda and others on board as advertisers.

“With multiple campaigns in the pipeline, we are constantly partnering with brands to reach out to the massive chunks of users present on the platform from all over the country,” he said.

Excerpts:

Q: Do you think the current rate of download growth is sustainable? What do you think would be the stickiness of all those coming to your platform post the ban imposed on Chinese apps by the government?

Public App is the largest location-based social network that was launched in April 2019 to help people connect to their community and local authorities through real-time updates. The platform has been on an exponential growth trajectory since then - within six months of launch, it became one of the fastest-growing Indian social app and ranked number 1 on Play Store for local updates.

Currently, it has over 50 million active users and generates more than 1 million videos every month in more than 10 major Indian languages. We have over 50,000 content creators including government officials, citizen journalists and politicians, including big political influencers like Arvind Kejriwal,  Jai Ram Thakur and Digvijaya Singh among others who have been regularly using the platform to connect with the citizens and have attracted millions of followers.

Our offerings are totally different from the apps that got banned as our users get informative content about their locality through short videos in their vernacular language. As we are fulfilling a very different need of the citizens -- the need to be connected to one’s locality through verified updates -- thus the ban imposed on Chinese apps by the government did not have any direct impact on our app. The fast and sustainable growth of our platform is demonstrative of this gap that existed, and this is what drives our users back to the platform.

Q: Is the current growth in traction also reflective of the monetization options of the platform? Tell us about the marketing tools that the brands can use on your platform to target their customer base?

The current growth in traction is definitely reflective of the monetization options of the platforms. We recently started monetizing via advertisements after building a loyal user base by providing them with an ideal platform with multiple language options and an engaging video format to advertise in.

We have a strong audience base across India. Thus brands that aim to reach out to these diverse users benefit from the platform. We are investing heavily in ad tech and creative solutions – for delivering innovative and non-intrusive ad formats with a user-friendly UI experience. We have received an overwhelming initial response from our clients having worked with leading brands like Amazon Prime Video, GSK, Swiggy, Rebel Food, Skoda and so on.

Q: Did the companies who were running active campaigns with ByteDance or other Chinese platforms make an overnight shift to Public?

We operate in a totally different segment as compared to other short video apps, which offers entertainment content. We are primarily focused on providing our users with verified and informative content. Hence, we are not directly competing for the market gap created by the banned Chinese Apps. Although advertisers have many opportunities to advertise through videos, there are very few credible platforms with such high user traction.

Q: Are you looking at any technical updates to manage the sudden explosion of users?

We have been consistently working on making a robust product, and have a competent technical team that works towards ensuring a premium experience for our users. During the pandemic and the resulting isolation, our user-base doubled from 15 million to 30 million in just 1 month as people across India used the Public app to stay connected to their community. But as we have had past experience in managing the surge in traffic, we could ensure there is no hindrance in the user experience. Hence, with the right team, product and technical expertise, we have been able to skillfully manage the rising number of users.

Q: What is the next big move for Public? What are the plans for this year?

There are currently over 450 million smartphone internet users in India and our app is relevant for everyone across the country irrespective of the language they speak or the place they belong to. We want to reach the remotest areas of the country and get them connected with their localities. We have over 50 million active users on the platform and plan to achieve 100% growth by year-end.

We continue to develop, innovate and offer new features to cater to the growing user base on our platform. A few of the developments in the pipeline are - A live video streaming feature wherein local leaders and authorities can go live and interact with their community.

For users, we plan to introduce in-built video creation tools which can help them create good quality professional content on mobile. Our aim is to make the app more user friendly and provide them with state-of-the-art facilities to give them a smooth app experience.

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