Namah Chawla
Media

“News genre is a different animal to deal with than a ‘Netflix’ because of recency and context issues”: Vivek Gaur, India Today Group

India Today’s Tak app will provide news in the form of 30-second videos. While the short video format has been the ‘flavour of the season for entertainment genre’, it will be interesting to see how the news genre adapts to it.

India Today’s Tak app was first launched in 2019. Recently, as a part of its foray into the digital media, the media conglomerate decided to re-launch it as ‘India’s first personalised video news app’.

The app already has over 44 million downloads and claims to have nine billion views annually across various social media platforms.

Speaking to afaqs! about the app’s re-launch, Vivek Gaur, COO, Tak Channels, India Today Group, informs, “Various Tak platforms were launched through social networks. While in certain genres, like sports and crime, and geographies, like UP and Bihar, we became market leaders, we also had to cut down on some genres (CinemaTak, TechTak and DuniyaTak) that could be combined with others. While all the platforms were named as ‘Taks’, they weren’t under an umbrella branding.”

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Vivek Gaur, India Today Group</strong></p></div>

Vivek Gaur, India Today Group

This is where the app comes into play, as it will provide a single destination under unified branding. It provides a pool of 18 channels offering content in 11 genres across four languages, and covers national, regional and special interest segments.

Creativeland Asia’s design division CLA Design Lab conceptualised the app’s re-branding exercise and the overall design.

Gaur shares, “Just by being under the same brand name will not give consumers any benefit. The three pillars that we want to establish are trust, authenticity and knowledge. Such a master brand requires its own destination, as it can never be together on social media platforms. That is where we bring in content differentiation and personalisation.”

The personalisation is device-specific and won’t be applicable if the user accesses the app via another device.

The app will provide news stories in 30 seconds. These short and informative videos will cater to audiences below 35 years of age and won’t be available on any other social media platform.

Milind Khandekar, managing editor, Tak Channels, India Today Group, says, “The short video content is the flavour of the season. However, it is primarily being used for the entertainment genre, where everybody is singing or dancing. Our hypothesis is that if this kind of content can work for other genres, then it can also work for news as well.”

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Milind Khandekar, India Today Group</strong></p></div>

Milind Khandekar, India Today Group

"Our hypothesis is that if this kind of content can work for other genres, then it can also work for news as well."
Milind Khandekar, India Today Group

“The rigour and the editorial policy followed for Tak app will be similar to our other platforms. Even if it is a 30-second content piece, it will be published with full responsibility and without any bias. Our endeavour will be to not just tell the news, but also explain it to the audiences. The format won’t take away the journalistic values just because the news is presented in a short format,” adds Khandekar.

Does getting personalised news imply that the readers may miss out on other important current affairs?

Gaur points out that the app will provide a curation of three ‘Editors’ Choice’ stories at the top. The user gets to see those first and then, other things follow. He says, “All the major news gets pinned to the top and we also have an option to pin important news for individual channels.”

For example, a user may not be interested in the sports genre, but there is a big cricket story that the editor has pinned for all the users to access. The user will then be able to access content that has been recently published. And then comes personalised content, which is built according to the user’s profile.

To enhance user experience and engagement, there will be live videos and polls. The videos will be shareable across social media channels. But the users will have to download the app to participate in the polls or ask real-time questions to the anchors.

Another interesting feature that will be shortly introduced, is play-along quizzes, where the winners will be selected on the basis of most correct answers and the least time taken.

Gaur believes that the news genre is a slightly different animal to deal with than, say, ‘Netflix’ because of recency and context issues. “Our product roadmap is around social engagement, personalisation without losing the flavour of a news and information app.”

Tak app uses a native monetisation model, wherein the platform won’t be serving Google ads. Neither will it be using a platform like Taboola. Instead, its team will go out, sell these ads and use a third-party tool, to make the platform look native.

Talking about other news apps, Gaur mentions, “What differentiates Tak app from other short format news platforms, like Inshorts, is that they provide content for English reading audiences, while we cater more to vernacular and Hindi audiences.”

"What differentiates Tak app from other short format news platforms, like Inshorts, is that they provide content for English reading audiences, while we cater more to vernacular and Hindi audiences."
Vivek Gaur, India Today Group

He adds that the readers can be a part of the news journey, not by creating content, but by participating in live polls and quizzes. This will enable them to be truly engaged with the platform.

“All the states in North and West India are covered, when it comes to regional news. The app already caters to four regional languages, namely Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi, and will be soon launching content in South Indian languages as well. It will soon provide local as well as national coverage. People will download the app for the kind of variety that we offer,” Khandekar signs off.

Need a social media marketing agency for your project? Choose among 82 such agencies on afaqs! Marketplace now. Click here