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The Indian language digital user is looking for more than just entertainment’

Rise of the Indian language digital user is the talk of the season. From old and well known players like Times Internet, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar and Vikatan to new aggregator apps like Dailyhunt and Newsdog are betting big on the everyday Indian consuming content on his or her mobile phone.

Not just publishers, there are many startups which are focusing on enabling the Indian language user in many different ways - from indic keyboards to language chatbots. We caught up with Sachin Bhandary, Vice President, India operations, Roar Media to talk about the Indian language content space. Sachin was a PR professional for almost a decade, before traveling to 14 countries during his 18 month long sabbatical. That is when he became an established travel writer, and a chance encounter with the Roar Media founder made him bring Roar Media to India.

Roar Media is a new age digital publishing company focused on Indian language users with operations in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh through its website and video play in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and Sinhala(Sri Lanka). The company also operates an English language brand called Roar Lk in Sri Lanka.

1. Why is the Indian language digital space thought of such a big opportunity?

You know, the Indian internet till now was primarily led by English language. And as someone who has traveled to 24 countries, I always used to wonder how Brazilian internet is all about Portuguese and the rest of South and Latin America is Spanish. Similarly, European countries have their own languages and that is the language their internet uses as well.

But I think the problem was that considering we are such a heterogeneous society with a fairly decent adoption of English, it became the lead language on our internet as well. Now, owing to a few factors like the data revolution brought about by Jio, cheaper smartphones and growth in tier II & III cities is making the Indian internet more democratic. And this is just the beginning.

9 out of 10 users joining the internet now are likely to be Indian language users and they are already a majority compared to English language users. According to a Google KPMG report, 536 Million digital users by 2021 will be Indian language users as opposed to 199 Million English users.

Of course, with this kind of population coming online for the first time, it opens up a world of opportunities.There is no doubt that this is an exciting space!

2. How does Indian language content fit into all of this?

Content drives the internet, doesn’t it? Everything you watch, read or hear on the internet is content!

Considering that Indian language users are going to be such a huge population online as well, there is a big demand for content that they can read, watch and understand. There is also need of native language content because that is what connects with them.

‘English is for the brain and mother tongue is for the heart’. I read this somewhere and it could not be more true.

Apart from publishing companies like ours, even big retailers like Amazon, Flipkart are figuring out ways to connect with the Indian language user better. Because connecting and being relevant to them, needs a paradigm shift. You can no longer just think English and translate that into a regional language.

So we think that there is growth for everyone, in fact, in the coming days more players will join in building this eco-system and that will be benefit both the companies and the users.

3. Roar Media, we know, is focused on knowledge based content. Aren’t regional language users more interested in entertainment?

Well, everyone is interested in entertainment! Indian language users are, and so are English language users. But that does not mean that they are only interested in reading or watching bollywood gossip or slapstick humour.

Our experience has been different. We started out by focusing on providing good quality content to our audiences and quickly realised that content that improved their knowledge quotient is something they were craving for.

So yes, the Indian language digital user is looking for more than just entertainment online. That is how we have been able to build about 2 Million actives on our website and do close to 30 Million video views per month.All this in a matter of a few months and these numbers are growing everyday.

4. What is your revenue model?

We are focused on sponsored and branded content campaigns. Just like our editorial content, the branded content also informs our audiences and that is our main source of revenue. We firmly believe that there is lots to be done in this space and are working on some exciting branded content series with some brands!

Content as a service is also something we provide for select clients in multiple languages.

5. Isn’t it difficult monetising regional language audiences?

Actually the point is about getting the focus right. For us, we feel that branded content is the way to go. Many progressive brands are already working with publishers like us and others to create memorable campaigns.

We recently concluded a campaign with MG Motor where we were the regional language partner for the Changemakers campaign. We profiled six women who were changing many lives with the work they are doing. This campaign was run in all of our three language platforms i.e Roar Hindi, Roar Bangla and Roar Tamil.

6. What does the future hold for Roar Media in India?

Future holds a lot of promise, and our preparation will make this promise a reality.

We would want to be present in 7 Indian languages by 2021 and be the leader in knowledge oriented regional content.

In terms of the quality of our content, we would want to keep it knowledge focused yet entertaining. We recently won Gold & a Silver award at Afaqs Digipub for best website design and best Video feature respectively. We would want to build a strong identity in the industry as a knowledge focused content brand in multiple languages.


President & CEO Toshihiro Yamamoto has announced it and Scrum Ventures LLC,a US-based venture capital firm, will co-host the SPORTS TECH TOKYO in 2019 in Japan and the U.S.

This acceleration program* originates in Japan and aims to help the growth of sports-based startups gathering from all over the world and provide opportunities to companies in need of open innovation.

Startups in the field of sports with advanced technologies and new business ideas are expected to apply from all over the world. They will receive special support such as mentoring** through the one-year program. The participants will also have networking and pitching opportunities with the Sports Advisory Board*** that consists of players and specialists from a variety of sports organizations and professional leagues and teams from Japan and the U.S.

Leading companies that are interested in sports-related open innovation are expected to participate as partners. In addition, we are planning to provide a place for testing and validating the participants' products and services, collaborating with sports facilities such as a stadium, during the second stage of the program.

In 2016, the U.S. sports market was estimated to be more than 50 trillion yen. Within this booming industry, the investment in start-ups involved in Sports Tech, a technological solution that makes the most of IT and other new technologies that add new value to sports and create new business, has tripled in four years from 2011 to 2015.

In Japan, the government-sponsored Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016 selected sports as one of the 10 strategic public-private joint projects to be cultivated as a growth industry. The report shows a guideline set by the government which aims to expand the market for sports industry from 5.5 trillion yen in 2015 to 15.2 trillion yen in 2025.

Under this favorable environment, we aim to build a new system with which the Sports Tech innovations driven by this program are effectively fed back to the sports industry. Together with strategic, on-going involvement in sports business, we will contribute to the development of domestic sports and revitalization of sports industry.

Economy Will Fuel Spending Surge This Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost upon us and a recent study The Harris Poll conducted with OpenX uncovered strong consumer confidence metrics that should translate at the cash register this year as more than 80% of consumers plan to spend the same or more on gifts this holiday season than they did in 2017.

The surge in shopping intent is in keeping with the mindset of today’s consumer. Most consumers feel the economy is doing better today than it was a year ago, and 75% feel it will get even better next year. 41% of millennials, more than any other group, plan to spend more this year.

According to the report, while this is good news for marketers, brands still need to pay attention to certain consumer behaviors in order to make the most of this holiday season. How shoppers consume content, research products and ultimately make purchases is changing significantly, posing opportunities for brand marketers to adapt in order to better engage consumers in today’s highly fragmented media environment.

55% of consumers are on their smartphones for at least three hours a day, and more than a third of millennials and one out of four parents spend 6+ hours on their smartphones daily. 25% of consumers watch no live TV. Millennials watch less than half as much live TV as the average consumer.

As content consumption habits shift further online and into mobile, shopping habits are shifting as well, and it is more important than ever to build omnichannel engagement programs that meet consumers where they are watching content, and where they are choosing to make their holiday purchases. With consumers taking greater control over when, how and where they shop, mobile and digital shopping have now reached parity with in-store shopping and consumers plan on spending nearly an identical amount in-store and online.

Millennials and individuals making more than $100k year both over index towards digital and plan to do more total shopping online than in a physical location, and millennials and parents are inclined to shop from their mobile devices, with both groups expecting to make about one-quarter of their purchases on mobile devices.

“Consumers are confident and plan to spend this holiday season,” said Dallas Lawrence, Chief Brand Officer at OpenX. “The big changes we see this year involves how shoppers consume content and how they plan to spend their holiday dollars. The shift away from traditional television content to mobile is fueling a strong surge in mobile holiday shopping this year. Whether it’s the 1 out of 4 consumers who now make mobile purchases weekly from bed at night or the 10 percent who are now using smart speakers to help research holiday purchases, consumers are shopping in new and unique ways, relying on mobile in particular, and advertisers that have developed smart omni-channel strategies to reach the always on shopper will have the happiest holiday returns.”

The survey also highlighted changing consumer perceptions around key shopping events like Black Friday. Less than half of consumers believe Black Friday is the best day to get deals, and many consumers have strong negative associations with the day, with 60 percent finding it overwhelming. Most consumers say they plan to skip what has traditionally been the biggest shopping day of the year all together in 2018.


Source:The Harris Poll

Objective of the Campaign

The Honda City, with its 20 year legacy, has been one of the most celebrated sedans in the country. For over 7.35 lakh customers, the City is the symbol that best resonates with their stature and world view.

The objective of this campaign was to drive consideration by re-affirming the leadership high ground of the Honda City with young sedan intenders.

Brief received from the Client

For over 20 years, the Honda City has consistently built relevance for sedan intenders. The task for this campaign, therefore, was to appeal to the desires and ambitions of the younger, progressive, more assertive Indian.


When we observed and understood young sedan intenders, we found that they aren’t swayed by mere style and glamour. Gravitas sans personality isn’t an option either. They aspire to have a point of view that’s decidedly worlds ahead, they aren’t content to follow but want to assert their leadership and are more confident than ever about demonstrating that stance and presence to the rest of the world.

The idea, therefore, was to pitch the Honda City as the sedan of choice for this customer. Given the rich legacy of leadership in the category, the unmistakable stamp of credibility, substance and style that comes with a Honda, the City stands tall as the perfect companion for our customer to assert his/her identity.

The campaign, ‘Forget the Toys’ is a statement that’s reflective of not being swayed by superficial pomp and making choices that are truly in keeping with one’s ambitions – and that make one stand head and shoulders above the rest. The campaign is led by a film that shows the protagonist looking down at the cars below from his high office.

We hear the man’s voice saying, From here, they all seem like toys… they watch you, they copy you and pretend to be you… but you know, deep down they all know, they can never be you.

The campaign was initiated by impactful OOH advertising across India and the TVC is On Air from 15th Sep along with a full Digital marketing plan.

Rajesh Goel, Sr VP and Director, Sales and Marketing, Honda Cars India said, “The new campaign of Honda City has been rolled out during the peak festival buying season. The campaign celebrates the aura of the Honda City being the most aspirational car brand with a 20 year legacy, over 7.35 lakh customers and has been an epitome of quality. It resonates aptly with the City buyer who makes his smart choices and is more direct and assertive about them.”

Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Dentsu One said, “I was standing in my office by the window when this idea struck me. When you look at the world below, you see that everything is so tiny. The ad then sort of wrote by itself. It’s a bold stance and we thought it’s time the brand had a clear perspective on the world around. Only Honda City could say ‘Forget the Toys”

Abhinav Kaushik, Executive Vice President, Dentsu One said, “The Honda City is a true legend that needs no introduction. It is one of the longest running brands in India and therefore keeping the client brief in mind we looked at the brand truth and played on its unique rich legacy, thereby clearly asserting its leadership position. There is a lot of pride in owning a Honda City among the consumers and this pride has been well reflected in the campaign.”

At the board meeting of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) held today, Mr. D. Shivakumar, Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy at Aditya Birla Group was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Board of ASCI.

As the member of the Board of Governors for three years, supporting self-regulation, Mr. Shivakumar is an accomplished business leader having spent over 19 years in sales, marketing and general management positions across consumer products and the luxury industry.

Mr. Rohit Gupta, President - Network Sales & International Business, Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt Ltd, was elected as the Vice-Chairman and Mr. Shashidhar Sinha, CEO, Media Brands Pvt Ltd, was re-appointed as the Honorary Treasurer.

Members of the Board of Governors include; Mr. Harish Bhat (Director, Tata Global Beverages Ltd.), Mr Subhash Kamath (Managing Partner, BBH Communications India Pvt Ltd), Mr. Sandeep Kohli (Executive Director & Vice President for Personal Care Hindustan Unilever Ltd), Prof S.K. Palekar (Adjunct Professor & Advisor – Executive Education Institute of Management Technology), Mr. N.S. Rajan (Managing Director, Ketchum Sampark Pvt Ltd), Mr. K.V. Sridhar (Founder & Chief Creative Officer (Director), Hyper Collective Creative Technologies Pvt Ltd), Ms. Abanti Sankaranarayanan (Former Vice Chairperson, CIABC), Mr. Girish Agarwal (Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group), Mr. Madhusudan Gopalan (CEO, Procter & Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Ltd.), Mr. Prasun Basu (President - South Asia Nielsen (India) Pvt. Ltd.), Mr. Sivakumar Sundaram (President- Revenue Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd), Mr. Vikas Agnihotri (Director Sales, Google India Pvt. Ltd.), Mr. Umesh Shrikhande (CEO, Taproot India Comm. P. Ltd.).

Ms. Abanti Sankaranarayanan, the outgoing Chairman, ASCI, said, “2017-18 has been another strong year for ASCI as we have made significant advancements towards building our organizational muscle, external credibility and strong collaborations. Our stringent guidelines, seamless processes and the dedication and hardwork of our Consumer Complaints Council have contributed to restricting the use of misleading advertisements and enhance self regulation. ASCI’s momentous achievements for the year include successful completion of three year-long collaboration with Department of Consumer Affairs, renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Food Safety Standards Authority of India, introduction of “Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising” and inclusion in AYUSH’s Empowered Committee to control misleading ads of AYUSH drugs. As the Chairman for ASCI for the year 2017-18,

I am extremely proud to be a part of this journey and I am confident that under Shivakumar’s Chairmanship ASCI will continue to grow swiftly and steadily.”

The incoming Chairman, Mr. D. Shivakumar, said, “I want to thank Abanti for her stewardship. We live in changing times with respect to information, media and trust of society. ASCI has been built on the foundation of self-regulation and the wisdom of the previous chairmen and the board. It’s my privilege to do the role now”.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) established by ASCI is an independent body (majority of its members drawn from civil society members like consumer activists, lawyers, doctors, educationists), the CCC met 47 times during the year and deliberated on complaints against 2641 advertisements. Complaints against 1177 advertisements were upheld, while for 483 they were not upheld. The significant increase in the number of complaints as compared to 2016-17 numbers (2300) is largely due to ASCI’s Suo Moto Monitoring project viz. National Advertisement Monitoring Services (NAMS). The Independent Review Process (IRP) received a very favourable response and 30 IRPs were conducted during this year.

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