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"As the breadth of news increases, the length will go down", Azhar Iqubal, Inshorts

08-February-2018
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"As the breadth of news increases, the length will go down", Azhar Iqubal, Inshorts

Inshorts, which started as 'News In Shorts,' is a content discovery platform provider for Android and iOS users. Sticking to their byline, 'Stay Informed in 60 Words,' it aggregates news and other content such as videos, infographics, and blogs and summarizes them in 60 words or less. As of August 2017, its app had received more than five million downloads on play store and more than one million on iTunes store.

In an interaction with exchange4media, Azhar Iqubal, co-founder of Inshorts, expressed his views on how shorter form of content is preferred more over the in-depth stories. He also focused on how mobile has become the effective medium to target consumers.

Excerpts:

Do you think people prefer snackable content over in-depth stories? Why has this shift happened?

Primarily, I would like to shift the focus on today's short attention span era, the generation we are into today is very busy and fast moving. We have too many things to do and lot of options available. If we go 20-30 years down the line, the generation and lifestyle then was very different with limited options and things to explore.

Compared to the current situation, today we have tremendous opportunities and things to do. In a compact 24 hours, we need to travel, work, party and sleep. For that, we have to divide the given time.

I think this is the foremost reason today why people prefer snackable content and that's why everything which is short and crisp with powerful content is preferred on-board.

Whether cricket matches, which earlier use to be test matches to now T20, TV serials to now shorter online content and even movies, everything has become shorter over the years because of limited time and lot of opportunities. Talking about the news world, there are lot of things across the globe and we have to cover every bit of it. Because of the increase in breadth, I will say the length has automatically decreased.

How has the rise of social media impacted the news consumption?

Well social media is probably one of the biggest source of news today. But at the same time, social media comes with some good and some bad points among which one of the biggest problem is fake news.

Talking about the positive side of social media, today everyone is updated about the big and trending topics. I would definitely agree to the fact that social media is of help in consuming news on the daily basis but at the same time if we talk about authentic news with proper updates, then probably you have to shift to the news app.

So for beginners, I would say social media is a best platform but for the longer run, one has to shift to the proper news app because of the authentication. Because the fundamental of news is definitely authentication.

Is mobile an effective platform to target consumers in this multi-screen era?

I think mobile will be the biggest driver of content consumption in near future and that is proving the algorithms true even today. Television will exist but mobile will be the significant player, which I think it has already become as we are living vicariously through our mobile phones today. The first thing to check after waking up in morning is our mobile phones, that has almost become the routine, and before sleeping the last thing we do is, check our mobile phones. Today the whole and sole of one's daily regime is there on their phone whether it is news, doctor, or travelling mediums.

The advantage of mobile phone is that you can target the consumer in a personalized way based on their location, taste and ease.

Do you think digital marketing is a threat to conventional marketing?

I think digital marketing will be the biggest player. As it is said, 'When technology and society walks together, we keep on moving, leaving the past as a history.' I think that's how it will also probably be in this case.

A lot of conventional marketing practices will exist but there would be no growth as such. But there will be a tremendous digital growth because most people aged between 15-50 years old today use a mobile phone in one or the other form.

What are the biggest changes you have noticed since you began your Inshorts journey?

From the past four years since we started, our belief has only increased in two fundamentals. First is that the generation we are in today is moving extremely fast and the second is that mobile itself has become such an important part of our lives that we are totally dependent on it. The small byte consumption on mobile phones has seen a tremendous growth.

Earlier, screens of our television were much bigger and so was the content but today with advent of 4G and cheap smartphones, this whole ecosystem has changed and the consumption on mobile has seen a significant growth. We are moving towards the shorter form of content. If we talk about video consumption on Facebook, it is hardly 1-2 minutes long, on Instagram it's about 30 seconds and on snapchat only 10 seconds.

In the longer run short form of content will persist and same is the case with ad space and shorter form of ads will come to the fore.

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