Nisha Qureshi

How new-age and traditional news platforms are cracking monetisation in the digital era

Abhijeet Ranjan of Inshorts Group and Sunil Goswami of ABP Network discuss their content game plans and monetisation strategy.

A Google-Kantar report on news consumption reveals that more than half of the Internet users in India are consuming news online. People use around five platforms, on an average, to access news online, with YouTube, social media platforms and chat apps emerging as popular pathways for news consumption. A large part of this consumption is led by long and short-format videos.

This has led to the emergence of many digital-first news platforms. Traditional news publishers like newspapers and TV news channels, are also expanding their business horizons to cater to the digital-first audience.

During the fourth edition of Digipub World, hosted by afaqs! recently, publishers discussed the ways in which they are designing their content to suit the new-age news consumer. They also discussed their business and monetisation challenges in the space.

The panel was moderated by Venkata Susmita Biswas, executive editor at afaqs!, and included Abhijeet Ranjan, CRO at Public App (Inshorts Group) and Sunil Goswami, editor, digital news videos at ABP Network. 

Monetisation strategies and challenges

Goswami said that ABP, which is a traditional TV channel, looks at content as its primary product, instead of a platform. Hence, it has partnered with many platforms like YouTube, etc., to distribute its content.

According to him, digital has been an important area for the group over the past three years.

“Over the last 4-5 years, we have significantly invested in digital media. 45% of the content is digital-first. 2.5 billion people consumed our content on digital across platforms. This means that the audience accepts the video format.”

Asked if the group is looking at creating its own individual digital platform for news, instead of relying on outside partners like YouTube, Goswami said that despite the volume of digital news consumption, monetisation remains a challenge for many traditional players,

“Creating content is expensive. It is a regular fight that has been going on in the newsrooms for many years. We are creating a lot of content and paying many people to make that content. However, revenue is not coming in.”

“Platforms that are well funded, can actually focus on creating their own ecosystems. However, we are relying a lot on apps like YouTube and Facebook that take away almost 55% of our revenue. If we make our own platform, which we have, the traffic is not great because we are not a platform company, but a content company. It is essential for us to have a platform, but from a revenue standpoint, it is not feasible at this point in time to make good revenue out of it. We are more focused on reaching the audience with our content. Our product is our content.”

As per Ranjan of Public App, they have doubled down on the short video format to cater to the young news consumers. The platform that focusses on regional news, started monetisation recently.

“In terms of monetisation, for the first two years, we focused on getting the product right. Now, we have a very sizeable user base of 70 million. We only started monetising it since last year and had great success. We have managed to get 30-40 brands on board. They have experienced the platform and are happy with the outcome.”

Content strategies 

In a bid to control the news making costs, Public App has partnered with many content creators to make news for it. The platform has partnered with 5,000 creators across 700 districts who cover hyperlocal issues and topics.

The app also has a team of 500-600 content creators who post videos on topics of national interest.

“A big chunk of this audience (young news consumers) is in the 18- 35 age group. They stopped watching TV 3-5 years ago and are consuming content only on digital. They come to us for information and awareness,” Goswami said.

Speaking about ABP Digital’s content strategy, he said that it has integrated the TV and digital teams. It has noticed a lot of its linear TV content being consumed on digital. As a result, it has also partnered with CTV players like Xiaomi and Samsung.

“By integrating the teams, we have noticed that the same system which was established for many years, has started giving us more output. We were already spending a lot on content creation. We have just managed to monetise it better.”

Watch the entire conversation here:

Event partners include MGID, YuktaMedia, Quintype, Chartbeat and (Bronze Partners) and IndiaDotCom Digital (online partner).

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