24% of our users listen to 'News on the Go': Mayank Jain, Shortpedia

Launched in 2017, Shortpedia has been offering snacky content with a ‘news on the go’ approach. The app offers English and Hindi content and is growing fast. The technology-driven content destination had roped in Mayank Jain as Chief Product Officer last year to strengthen their advertising proposition. 

Jain is an advertising and media professional, whose last stint was with Dentsu Aegis Network as Group Head - Media. At Shortpedia, he is responsible for the advertising experience and user engagement on the app. Jain has been leveraging his keen understanding of Digital platforms, AI and programmatic advertising to create world class advertising product at Shortpedia. 

In conversation with Adgully, Mayank Jain talks about the USP of the app, power of native advertising and potential of audio content. 

What advertising formats are you offering on the app?
We are experimenting with non-intrusive ads and creating a strong native advertising product. The app has native interstatial cards, carousel magazines, cubicle carousels, vertical videos all of which are non-intrusive which comes with the native functionality of the app just like our news experience. 

What specialised solutions do you offer?
Apart from these, we are experimenting with some innovations that take advantage of the device functionality. We executed a campaign for a lighting advertiser, where we controlled the brightness of your phone as part of the ad experience. 

You can read, listen and view news on Shortpedia. Are you building ad products that take advantage of all these functionalities?
There are three advertising formats. On Read, there are native content stories, which are sponsored stories by the advertiser. In View, we have display native interstatial property. For Listen, we have audio spots. We are not monetising audio as of now, the final product will launch by mid-March. 

What is your strategy to optimise user experience? Will your ad product affect their engagement?
In sequential advertising, we have our own DMP (data management platform) which recommends the right ad. If someone reads only about tech-related content, then we will fill their inventory with tech-related products only. 

If you are showing irrelevant ads to the user, it will definitely hamper their experience. Depending on what the user is watching, we use technology to show them the right kind of ads. We seek to target the right content or native content that does not hamper the user experience and allows the user to engage more with the advertising content. 

How do you sell inventory on the platform?
We have programmatic capability, which is another advantage that we have over the competition. While we have programmatic capability, our platform is not open to all kinds of ads. 

We have a programmatic guaranteed deal with select partners and only run branded content that they create. Our ads come directly from the brand or the agency. We are not open to ad networks, only clients and agencies. 

What has the user journey been like on the app?
A user’s daily time spent on our app is 5-6 minutes. On an average, the user swipes up to 80-90 times. We deploy ads based on our recommendation engine. There are various permutations and combinations that decide when to push out an ad. It depends on the amount of inventory we have, average swipe rate of a user. On 80-90 swipes, the average user would see about 5-6 ads. 

How have you built synergy between the product features and user content?
Our main focus is to create a clutter free environment. We are trying to create a niche for users by creating relevant content and not just short form content. You may have seen our tagline – ‘Evolve as we go’. Our objective is not high downloads, but evolution of the app. 

What capability are you building for regional languages?
Right now, we support Hindi and English. To increase our reach and take our app to the next level, we definitely have to go regional. Before we focus on the regional part, we are planning to take the app live in international markets such as the US, the UK, Canada. 

What is the profile of your app users?
Our audience comes from the top 10 metros and comprises of the millennial and Gen Z audience. The average age brackets are 18-25 and 25-34 and form 70 per cent of the user base of the app. 

Are you developing product features to increase user time spent on the app?
We are experimenting with audio content because it is growing at a faster pace in India. You will see us offer audio book summaries, podcasts and other unique audio content. We are also experimenting with video content, but we will focus more on audio. 

We want to be a clutter free destination for smart and relevant content for the user. Our USP that differentiates us from the competition is our audio offering. 24 per cent of our users listen to ‘News on the Go’ during their commute or at the gym. 

What is the potential of audio content?
Most of our audio consumption comes from Tier 2 and 3 cities and towns. Providing audio content in the users’ native language works. If you offer podcasts in English to the regional audience, we have observed that the listenership drops. 

What are your RoI metrics for a campaign?
Coming from an advertising background, I know how much viewability matters in the Indian market. General news platforms offer a viewability of 45 per cent. In our case, the viewability of campaigns is 90 per cent, which is exciting advertisers. 

In India, campaigns are measured using CPM (cost per thousand). Apart from CPM, we optimise the campaign using CPC (cost per click) and the same goes for programmatic. The buying model is CPM, but we are getting 1-2 per cent CTR (click through rates), where the industry average is 0.4 per cent.


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