Benita Chacko

“We have potential to grow in non-English and video segments on digital media”: Times Internet’s Satyan Gajwani

In a chat with Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, contributing editor, Business Standard, on the first day of Digipub Week, the vice chairman at TIL, talks about the growth plans of the Internet giant.

“We have the potential to grow in the non-English and video segments on digital media. That’s where we've been deficient.” Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman, Times Internet (TIL), said this during an interview with Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, contributing editor, Business Standard, on the first day of the Digipub Week yesterday.

“Those are our fastest-growing footprints today, with MX Player and MX TakaTak in the video segment. Since it's the early stages, we're under-monetising it today. But the two assets will do extremely well, in terms of capturing more market share. On the non-English side are news sites like Navbharat Times and Maharashtra Times,” Gajwani adds.

TIL, the digital arm of the Times of India group, is about 20 years old. It has two major arms - media and service. Media includes four major verticals - news (TOI, ET, etc.), sports (Cricbuzz), music (Gaana) and video (MX Player and MX TakaTak).

Through the media ecosystem, TIL reaches about 150 million daily users and 600 million monthly users. On the service side, there is Magicbricks, ET Money, Dineout, among others. About 85 per cent of all Internet users in India use TIL products.

Apart from subscriptions and transactions, TIL garners 70 per cent of its revenues through advertising. Other than global giants Google and Facebook, TIL enjoys the largest reach in India. Despite that position, Gajwani says that TIL doesn't monetise as effectively as Google and Facebook do today in India.

“Structurally, we've never been as effective as the global giants in the performance advertising space,” he adds.

Though media companies are strong players in the high value premium advertising segment, most can't compete in the performance advertising market.

“You need to be an AI company. The cost required to build that kind of ad tech engine is very prohibitive. We're fortunate that we're just at the cusp of scale and have invested in our ad tech. But it's at an early stage,” Gajwani mentions.

Watch the full interview here:

“Historically, we have had separate teams offering different verticals, like news products, sports, etc. But for the first time, in the last few months, we're actually unlocking a TOI-wide package. We offer advertisers a reach across all the premium experiences to reach 100 million or 150 billion people in a single day. Apart from Google and Facebook, no one else can do that,” he adds.

Speaking about subscriptions, Gajwani says that all of TIL's premium segment businesses are now thinking of how they can make a meaningful direct-to-consumer subscription offering.

“We have the ability to do bundling in a way that others can't. My personal goal is to have at least five per cent of our visitors value their relationship with us. They end up becoming paid members and subscribers,” he adds.

Gajwani mentions that his goal, two years down the line, is to make five per cent of TIL's users spend with them. One of the major priorities for the next year will be to help users move across various products.

“We are thinking how we can figure out who in TOI is going to be the right person to consider upselling them to use Dineout? Or, someone in ET will be the right fit to potentially buy their first set of mutual funds online? We are thinking about how to move users across our ecosystem effectively. If we can do that, then that's a way for us to create ecosystem value, not just individual asset value,” Gajwani signs off.

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