'Will use Amazon's size, scope, & scale to make people participate in India's prosperity'

Jeff Bezos, Founder & Chief Executive of Amazon, spoke on a wide array of topics in a fireside chat with Amit Agrawal, Country Head, Amazon India

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Published: Jan 16, 2020 8:57 AM  | 3 min read
Jeff Bezos in India

At the inaugural of Amazon Smbhav, a two-day summit aimed at bringing business owners together, Jeff Bezos, Founder and Chief Executive of Amazon, spoke on a wide array of topics in a fireside chat with Amit Agrawal, Country Head, Amazon India.

Speaking about the rise of Amazon over the years and the level of scale it has achieved in over two decades, Bezos said, “I have seen Amazon at every scale level. I have seen it when it had just one person (Bezos himself), 10 persons, 100 persons, 1000 people, and today around the world it has 700,000 people. At each stage, I had to lead the company differently. You go from the question of ‘How’, to the question of ‘What’ and finally to the question of ‘Who’.

Revealing the secret of this sustained scaling Bezos added, “ Make sure you are not only hiring people that you can teach, but hire people that can teach you and can be your tutors. That has been the secret to the scaling of Amazon all along the way.”

In recent times, Amazon has been beset with challenges in India and has been accused of predatory pricing. The government has also set in motion new regulations concerning the e-commerce sector in a bid to protect domestic stakeholders.

When asked about his share of failures and how he deals with it, Bezos said, “Amazon is the best place in the world to fail, and there are multiple kinds of failures. There are two kinds that are really important— experiments, where you are trying to figure out something new that nobody in the world has done before. That is high-quality failure and you need to have a culture that supports failure.”

“There is the second kind of failure which you should try to avoid, that is operational excellence failure. When we go to open a new performance centre, for example, we know how to do that. If we fail at that, that is just bad execution and you should never celebrate that kind of failure”, he added.

During his conversation with Agrawal, Bezos also committed another one billion USD investment to digitise small and medium businesses in the country. Since its entry into the Indian market in 2013, Amazon has already invested USD 5.5 billion so far.

“25 years ago, Amazon was a tiny little company, not only was I driving packages to the post office, but I was also wrapping them and doing everything that small entrepreneurs do. Today we are announcing that we are going to invest an incremental one billion USD in digitising small and medium businesses and we will use Amazon’s size, scope and scale. We are going to use our global footprints to export 10 billion USD ‘Make In India’ goods by the year 2025. The goal is to make more people participate in the prosperity of India”, said Bezos.

When asked about the timing of this announcement, he added, “We are making this announcement now because of its working, and when something works you should double down on it and that is what we are doing.”

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TRAI releases consultation paper on rating framework for digital connectivity in buildings

Comments from stakeholders invited by November10, 2023

By e4m Staff | Sep 28, 2023 6:34 PM   |   2 min read


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on ‘Regulation on Rating Framework for Digital Connectivity in Buildings or Areas’. The comments on the issues raised in the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by November10, 2023 and counter-comments, if any by November 24, 2023.

According to the authority, digital connectivity has become an integral part of personal, professional, and social life. The exponential growth in digitalization of services and manufacturing sectors has revolutionized the world, impacting everything, from economy, innovation, science, and education, to health, sustainability, governance, and lifestyle. 

“The demand for digital connectivity has increased many folds in the recent years. The crucial role of digital connectivity has been acknowledged pandemic, witnessing a surge in the demand across all segments of users, irrespective of their locations,” stated TRAI. 

The authority further stated that the TRAI has been monitoring the quality of service of telecom services across the country by conducting detailed studies and issuing suitable directions to the stakeholders, to improve the quality of service. While there have been significant improvements in coverage of telecom services on the street, there are still gaps observed in meeting the perceived quality of service demands of the users, especially inside the buildings, residential or commercial areas.

In an official release, TRAI said, “The quality of telecommunication services inside the buildings is an integral part of protection of the consumer interest. TRAI has already taken various policy initiatives including the Recommendation dated  February20,  2023 on "Rating of Buildings or Areas for Digital Connectivity". These recommendations provide for introduction of Rating of Buildings framework to ensure good digital connectivity experience to the consumers through a collaborative and self-sustainable approach.”

The Consultation Paper on "Regulation on Rating Framework for Digital Connectivity in Buildings or Areas" is released to deliberate on regulation for implementation of rating framework for buildings and areas for digital connectivity to improve QoS inside buildings and for seamless consumer experience.

TRAI said that the paper highlights the need for Rating of Buildings or Areas for Digital Connectivity that meets not only the current expectations of the consumers but is also ready for future expansion or upgradation with the advancement of technologies or change in users' demand. This CP also discusses the benefits of the rating framework to the end-users, service providers and to the ecosystem.

“The consultation paper describes overview of the 'Rating framework for Digital Connectivity' based on the practices being followed internationally and rating frameworks like GRIHAor Credit Rating in India,” reads the official statement. 



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Tech giants, ed tech cos face 18% IGST

These companies will be taxed for their services in the Online Information Database Access and Retrieval category

By e4m Staff | Sep 28, 2023 10:43 AM   |   1 min read


Google, Facebook and several ed tech firms may have to pay nearly 18% GST on services provided to the government and individuals, as the exemption is likely to end starting October, media networks have reported.

These companies will be taxed for their services in the Online Information Database Access and Retrieval category.

The integrated goods and services tax will be applicable to overseas companies providing advertising, cloud services, online education and some other services, media reports said quoting government officials.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has already decided to amend central and state laws from October 1 to implement a 28% tax on online gaming, casinos and horse racing.

The tax will be applied not to each value of the bets placed but to the entry amount that users pay.

There will be an income tax on winning as per the law. The GST Council also has decided to amend the integrated GST Act related to importing goods and services. Offshore money gaming platforms that do not comply with the requirement will also be blocked.

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Generative AI: Top e-comm players have a new ‘salesman’ for the festivals

From personalizing shopping experience to predicting product demand and automating recommendations, brands are working hard to enhance consumer experience this year

By Kanchan Srivastava | Sep 28, 2023 8:42 AM   |   5 min read


Leading e-commerce players are utilizing the potential of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) to gain deep insights into consumer expectations and preferences, enhance the shopping experience of buyers and predict demands based on past sales. 

Walmart-backed Flipkart, for instance, is set to introduce a range of advanced technology integrations to elevate the shopping experience of customers. 

“This involves the implementation of virtual assistants and generation of product descriptions, high-quality images, creative materials, and augmented reality visualizations, all aimed at enriching the user experience,” Mayur Datar, Chief Data Scientist at Flipkart, tells e4m. 

Datar explains, “With deeper integration of Generative AI, we are reimagining product recommendations based on customers' preferences and behaviours. Flipkart has also developed chat-driven interactions for both customers and sellers, enhanced search capabilities using semantic search technology, and created internal tools to boost productivity and efficiency.”

Ajio, an online fashion and lifestyle store from Reliance Group, has introduced a dreamlike sequence that transports influencers into an AI-Verse generated by artificial intelligence. 

“Within this virtual realm, influencers seamlessly transition between various outfits sourced from Ajio, before returning to their normal selves. This innovative approach to brand promotion is unparalleled,” says Rashi Agarwal, Founder, Megalodon, an AI firm that is working with Ajio to develop its generative AI capabilities. 

Ajio has also appointed influencer Aiyyo Shraddha as “Chief of Small Talk” to add humour into their branding proposition. Besides, the company’s prowess in the ‘moment marketing’ game would also be on display in the festive season. 

Amazon too has rolled out a new set of generative AI capabilities early this month at their premier annual seller conference-Accelerate 2023. 

“The generative AI tools will simplify how sellers create more thorough and captivating product descriptions, titles, and listing details. These new capabilities will make it faster and easier for sellers to list new products as well as enrich existing listings, helping customers more confidently make purchase decisions. The new tools can recognize, summarize, translate, predict, and generate text and other content, to build more comprehensive product descriptions,” the company announced at the conference.  

Top D2C brands too are enthusiastic about presenting engaging content that instantly connects with their target audience, utilizing methods ranging from computer-generated videos to AI creativity, Agarwal says. 


AI-Powered Designs

Traditionally, fashion designers have relied on their intuition and creativity to envision new collections. Now, they are increasingly collaborating with AI systems to generate unique patterns, colour combinations, and even entire garment designs. 

AI is also revolutionizing the supply chain, enabling fashion brands to streamline their operations and minimize waste. This data-driven approach ensures that brands produce the right amount of inventory, reducing excess stock and the need for heavy markdowns. 


Demand predictions 

Brands typically focus on the festive season due to the significant surge in traffic, translating into increased sales. They often overlook some critical aspects of user experience. 

Shashank Rathore, Vice President, E-commerce, Interactive Avenues (the digital arm of IPG Mediabrands India), explains, “As consumers, we've all encountered out-of-stock products during festive seasons, leaving us wondering why brands miss out on potential sales opportunities. However, this time around, brands are harnessing the power of generative AI to analyze historical data and accurately predict product demand.”

These initiatives extend far beyond the festive season as AI has evolved into a long-term sustainable strategy for growth in this digital marketplace, says Shubham Srivastava- AVP, D2CPro Powered by Team Pumpkin. 

He noted, “AI tools may assist in streamlining tasks like data analysis, strategic planning, trend forecasting, and improving customer buying experiences. Amazon, Google, and Shopify are already at the forefront of Gen AI and are utilizing its capability to understand and help with customer needs.”


“E-comm sales to touch Rs 90,000 Cr during fests”

A Redseer report predicts that the Gross Merchandise Value for the entire festive month of India’s eTailing in 2023 will reach approximately INR 90,000 crores, marking an impressive 18-20% growth compared to the previous year’s festive month sales. This growth is expected to be fuelled by a significant user base of around 140 million shoppers who are projected to make online transactions during this festive month. 

“We expect increasing GMV contributions from non-electronics categories like Fashion, BPC, Home & General Merchandise and more this festive period,” says Mrigank Gutgutia, Partner at Redseer Strategy Consultants. 


Separate budget 

Expecting a great festive season, Brands are not hesitant to allocate significant resources for AI. 

Rathore says, “Brands with large budgets are investing in AI by creating in-house AI research and development teams. Mid-sized e-commerce players are choosing to invest in third-party AI tools and platforms that offer ready-made solutions for personalization, recommendation systems, chatbots, and more. However, most of the ecommerce related companies are motivating current teams to learn AI by investing in training programs and educational resources for their employees to build AI knowledge and skills.”

They also allocate separate budgets for hiring data scientists, machine learning engineers, and AI experts who can develop, implement, and maintain AI solutions in future, Rathore noted. 


Will AI help lift consumption?

As per Gutgutia, generative AI will lead to better and novel consumer experiences and drive stronger growth momentum. Some experts are not very hopeful though. 

Rathore opines, “While AI is poised to have a notable impact on driving consumption this year, it's still just a single component in a multifaceted environment, and its effects must be evaluated within the larger framework of consumer behaviour and market dynamics. Furthermore, consumer actions during festive seasons can be shaped by a variety of factors, encompassing economic circumstances, cultural customs, and external occurrences.”

Attributing a direct influence on consumption can be challenging for brands at present, but as we move into the next year, we can anticipate more precise measurements of its impact, he added. 

Moreover, consistency remains a major hurdle in AI, with many AI video tools still in their beta stages yielding unprofessional results, experts point out. 


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Connected TV has emerged as the fastest growing screen for YouTube in 5 yrs: Google India

At Brandcast 2023, the internet giant also shared that YouTube Shorts’ average daily views have grown by over 120% year-on-year

By e4m Staff | Sep 27, 2023 4:02 PM   |   5 min read

Amidst the surge in digital video services, online Indians are curating personal video universes consisting of an average of 5 content platforms with YouTube emerging as their foremost choice for watching videos, according to Google.
“As the number of Internet enabled households equals TV households, viewers are bringing YouTube onto the large screens in their living spaces. With millions of viewers watching YouTube on their Connected TVs, it has emerged as the fastest growing screen for YouTube over the past five years. With creators using Shorts as another tool in their arsenal to express themselves, YouTube Shorts’ average daily views grew by over 120% year-on-year. Giving further definition to their content curation, 33% of Connected TV consumers in urban India do not watch linear TV at all[1], with logged-in viewers averaging 2.5 hours of YouTube watchtime per day,” stated a press release shared by the internet giant at Brandcast 2023.
Satya Raghavan, Director, Marketing Partners, Google India, said, “In the fifteen years since we launched YouTube in India, there has been an extraordinary all-round digital transformation, in connectivity and in content, and today, people have created a boundaryless viewer experience for themselves that straddles across their smartphones and their connected TVs.  We’re delighted that, in this rapidly evolving landscape, YouTube is the platform of choice for four out of every five people online[2]. This is a testament to the unflagging contribution and inventiveness of India’s vast and growing creator economy. Marketers have responded to this heterogeneity by tapping into YouTube’s unique environment to reach their consumers at the right time, in their preferred language, in the right need state, on the right device, with the right creative, and with their most appropriate products. Our AI-powered ads solutions that span the spectrum of creation, customization, and deployment will position businesses at the most rewarding intersection of mMedia, creative, technology and content that only YouTube offers, and help brands achieve their business objectives with the advantage of incrementality.”
YouTube Shorts grow in popularity
With an average of 70 billion daily views globally, YouTube Shorts continues to grow in popularity amongst viewers in India with 96% aged 18 to 44 using YouTube Shorts[3]. Shorts watchtime now also transcends devices with 88% of online 18-44-year-olds watching short-form video content on a TV over the past 12 months[4]. Viewers in India are also splitting their viewing time across many different video formats, spending no more than 21% of their viewing time watching one format[5].
Gen Z gravitates to YouTube
YouTube is Gen Z’s choice as the #1 place they would spend their entire viewing session, significantly more than social media platforms[6]. Driving this preference is that YouTube allows them to easily choose what they watch, offers access to a wide array of content types, and has the best music videos including clips and previews. Moreover, in purchase decisions too, Gen Z relies on YouTube for ads that are personally relevant to them and 88% agree it introduces them to new brands or products[7].
YouTube content uploads grow 40%
Together with the total hours of content uploaded to YouTube by channels in India growing by over 40% in June 2023 vs June 2022, 35+ adults averaged over 70 minutes of YouTube per day in this month. Watch times of videos on the "grwm" or "get ready with me" trend grew more than 500% in the last quarter of  2022, compared to the same period last year, and with "episode highlights" or "season recap" in the title by 120%. As creators begin to tap gen AI for new ideas and audiences, the year has seen over 1.7 Billion views of videos related to or using generative AI tools globally.70% of 18-44 year-old viewers online agree that they are open to watching content from creators that use AI to generate their content.
New AI-powered solutions to enhance ad creativity
Building on the commitment to integrate AI into the full spectrum of phases spanning ads creation, customisation and deployment to help marketers unlock YouTube’s unique multi-screen, multi-format viewer experience, and reach audiences with relevant context, engagement and results, YouTube today announced the launch of a suite of tools in its Ads Creative Studio. With these, marketers will now be able to easily create multiple versions of a single display or video ad customized for different audiences, locations, languages or contexts. Providing this never-before flexibility will be the AI-powered Flip Video, that will enable advertisers to build vertical assets, even when they were not planned for, and the Trim, which leverages machine learning to create 6-seconds bumper ads to help drive efficiencies in campaigns.
New ways to reach CTV viewers

With several significant shifts now well underway, and businesses navigating a rapidly evolving media landscape marked by “cord cutting”, YouTube has been investing in helping advertisers unlock overall media value through increasingly effective cross media campaign measurement. As part of these longstanding efforts, YouTube revealed that the Nielsen CPG meta analysis has shown that YouTube drives nearly 2.3X better ROI than Linear TV[13] with over 65% of 18+ audience reached on YouTube being incremental to TV[14].
With the goal of engaging this growing cohort of Connected TV viewers, over 50% of who watch content that is 21 min or longer on the large screen[15], marketers in India will now also have the ability to leverage two new advertising solutions specific to this audience. 
30-Second YouTube Select Non-Skips, only on Connected TV - Advertisers will soon be able to put a 30s non-skip ad in front of YouTube’s most popular content – from top creators to the biggest content moments iYouTube Connected TV Pause Experience: To help brands drive awareness and action during a user-initiated break in a viewer’s streaming session, YouTube will begin piloting new Pause experiences on Connected TV in 2024. This is seamless for viewers and allows them to learn more about a brand - while creating further opportunity to drive saliency with relevant audiences.

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The Marcom Avenue bags Performance mandate for Priya Gold

The agency will work on enhancing PriyaGold's brand visibility and market reach

By e4m Staff | Sep 27, 2023 2:55 PM   |   2 min read


The Marcom Avenue has announced that it has secured the performance marketing mandate for biscuit brand PriyaGold. The collaboration aims to amplify PriyaGold's digital presence and engagement with its diverse customer base.

“As part of this partnership, The Marcom Avenue will leverage its expertise in data-driven insights, creative content, and cutting-edge digital strategies to enhance PriyaGold's brand visibility and market reach. The agency will focus on driving measurable results, optimising customer acquisition, and increasing overall brand performance,” stated a press release.

"The Marcom Avenue is thrilled to have been entrusted with the performance marketing mandate for Priya Gold. We are excited to work with a brand that is synonymous with quality and innovation in the food industry," said Ms Divanshi Gupta, Director at The Marcom Avenue. "Our team is committed to delivering exceptional results, and we look forward to helping PriyaGold achieve new heights in the digital landscape."

Manas Agarwal, Director, Priya Gold, expressed satisfaction with the collaboration, stating, "Partnering with The Marcom Avenue would prove to be instrumental in leveraging our strengths, amplifying Priya Gold's narrative, and expanding our market reach to a remarkable audience. Their team has consistently demonstrated their expertise in the marketing field and has gone above and beyond to understand our unique requirements. Their efforts have played a significant role in positioning Priya Gold as a preferred choice for snacks and confectionery products. We are excited to continue this partnership and achieve new milestones together."



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Ditch the acronyms to focus on what CTV can really deliver

When did TV stop being TV? Prabhvir Sahmey, Senior Director Samsung Ads, writes how industry’s obsession with jargons is holding everyone, including brands, back

By Prabhvir Sahmey | Sep 27, 2023 8:33 AM   |   4 min read

samsung ads

The online viewing revolution means the word ‘TV’ no longer just describes purely linear TV. Increasing numbers are watching streamed content via Smart TVs and according to IDC over 4.5 million Smart televisions were shipped to India in 1H23, an increase of 8% year-over-year (YoY).

Samsung has been the leading TV manufacturer worldwide for the last 17 years, and this means the data we collate at glass level is representatively robust. In the first half of 2023, this data showed that Indian viewers on Samsung TVs spent almost 88% of their total TV time in streaming environments.

This sea change in viewing behaviour is important for advertisers as the data-driven insights we gather from connected TV (CTV) provide opportunities to deliver more relevant advertising, refine reach to find new audiences and reduce wastage.



Jargon is clouding our understanding of CTV

We are all guilty of over-complicating the TV landscape and reinforcing the fragmentation within the medium with an over-use of jargon. This is detrimental to agencies’ full understanding of how CTV can be utilised as part of an integrated media plan.

Streaming brings the data collation and targeting ability of digital to the world of TV but the disjointed way we talk about the ecosystem can be confusing. We have created an alphabet soup of categorisation. One that viewers do not care about and which muddies the waters in our own commercial conversations.

The original labels that initially accompanied the streaming revolution– Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) and Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) – can be useful in identifying these two different streaming environments.

Viewers certainly understand if they are watching TV for free or paying for the experience - and we know most streamers in India are happy to watch advertisements in return for access to free content. Research we carried out with Verve shows 80% of people in India are happy with this trade off. On the other hand, subscription numbers are churning as people face increased economic pressures.

But we have since added to a growing list of acronyms FAST (Free Advertiser Supported Streaming TV), a descriptor to explain the proposition of a scheduled streaming channel, and we’re grappling with an acronym for Subscription with Advertising Tiers as the SVOD platforms look to new monetisation models.

Will HVOD (Hybrid Video on Demand) win out or SAVOD (Subscription Advertising Video on Demand) win out? This is exactly the kind of meaningless debate around terminology all involved in the TV industry need to put aside.

Step out of siloed thinking

Planners can find these acronyms useful but the lines between these different viewing environments are blurring so much that as an industry we risk creating a convoluted landscape for ourselves that will hold back overall CTV growth. Acronyms become out of date and can inhibit fresh thinking – the most creative solutions and TV buys come from stepping out of siloed thinking.

Agency buyers and planners who may be anxious about their streaming knowledge should be confident in the digital abilities they have honed across a range of media. If you understand how digital media is traded and the capabilities of programmatic then the fundamentals of how to plan and buy CTV will not be difficult to grasp.


Audience first approach

Instead, the focus should be on gaining a deeper knowledge of the viewer and how to reach them. Understanding what they watch, their preferences and how to deliver a positive, privacy compliant experience in which advertisements are welcomed as an integral part of the whole should be the goal. The data-driven insights surfaced by CTV are what is truly important, not the label categories.

This will come by breaking down the silos including the ones that might exist in agencies between audio-visual and digital teams – alignment across teams to focus on CTV’s strengths will deliver the best results for advertisers. These strengths include knowledge at the glass level of watch time,  awareness of favourite genres and the ability to identify audiences that have not been reached by a brand’s linear TV campaign.

These insights mean brands can devise complementary campaigns for advertisers that can reach fractured audiences, whether they are linear TV viewers or streaming enthusiasts. Planning against deterministic data rather than siloed viewing formats badged by acronyms  will lead to the media mix best optimised to meet marketing objectives.



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I welcome anyone using 'Humans of...' concept: Brandon Stanton, HoNY

Stanton was responding to a query by The Washington Post about the lawsuit filed by Humans of Bombay against the People of India

By e4m Staff | Sep 26, 2023 1:05 PM   |   2 min read

brandon stanton

The lawsuit filed against Humans of Bombay (HoB) against the People of India (PoI) has opened a new can of worms for the former with even big international publications covering the news. In his recent salvo against the Mumbai-based photoblog, Humans of New York founder Brandon Stanton has released his statement regarding the monetisation of his platform.
The comment was in response to a query by the Washington Post regarding the HoB lawsuit.

Stanton claimed that in the last 13 years, HoNY was operational, he never received a penny for a single story he has put out. He also emphasised that his income mainly came from proceeds from his book sales, speeches he has given and Patreon.

Here's the full text of his comment.

Stanton's statement comes at a time when HoB is being criticised for monetising the content on the photoblog.

HoB was in the news for filing a lawsuit against People of India (PoI) for copyright infringement. According to the plaintiff, PoI copied HoB's storytelling format, which showcases human interest stories centred on photographs of ordinary people. The plea also mentioned that PoI lifted films from HoB's Instagram account without seeking permission first.

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