Anirudh Pandita, founder, Pocket Aces, says that his venture has created and distributed extremely successful content with several brands such as Kurkure, Furlenco, Epigamia, Flipkart, Lifestyle, Xiaomi, Manforce Condoms, Kingfisher, Saffola, Penguin Random House, etc.
Pocket Aces is one of the fastest growing digital entertainment companies in India today. Funded by Sequoia Capital and the co-founders of Infosys, the firm conceptualises, creates and distributes original content for millennial audiences through its channels – Dice Media (web-series), FilterCopy (sharable and snackable short-form content), and Gobble (everything food). Anirudh Pandita, founder, Pocket Aces, says that his venture has created and distributed extremely successful content with several brands such as Kurkure, Furlenco, Epigamia, Flipkart, Lifestyle, Xiaomi, Manforce Condoms, Kingfisher, Saffola, Penguin Random House, etc. “We are also the only Indian digital company that is distributing its digital content in China,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
How does Pocket Aces differ from its competitors?
We believe that our strong focus on video, distributed over social media networks, gives us a big edge over our competitors, most of whom are trying to create destinations. Our organic reach and distribution via social is strong and we are currently the leader in short form video in India, where we were ranked first in New Age Entertainment viewership by Vidooly, an independent data analytics firm. We have fundamentally altered the way content is created by embracing data-driven decision making and iterative, hypothesis-driven content creation. Our team learns about content from proprietary data analysis tools and focuses on metrics like audience retention curves, like/dislike ratios, audience comments, engagement rates etc. This approach is supplemented by our owned technology, which has been designed for scale (data analytics, advertiser and campaign analytics). What is your business model, considering most of the content available online is free? We have multiple revenue sources at Pocket Aces. The biggest one is branded/native advertising, which is achieved by a combination of direct sales and agency sales. We also earn fees by licensing and syndicating our content to OTT platforms and TV networks. We also receive ad-share revenue from platforms that we use to distribute our content. Lastly, we have started experimenting with new content-based commerce models like affiliate revenue, merchandise sales, etc.
With the influx of content on the internet, how do you plan to scale your content and attract new audiences?
We feel confident about scaling the reach of content because we are going at this with a digital-first mindset, which a lot of other players are not doing. We don’t think that all content is created equal and believe in tailoring content to the platform through which it is distributed. We understand why content is shared, which is why we have created some of the shared content. Also, we have proprietary data analytics technology that helps us understand content performance and how to optimise quantum and timing of performance spends. Lastly, we have existing digital distribution base and a loyal fan base, which looks forward to each piece of content that we create. These factors help us create a moat against a lot of other content and help us to continue scaling our content. A good example of this is our network views that have scaled 10x in the past 12 months.
What growth curve you see for your industry given the internet scenario?
Today, in India, we only have 160 million mobile internet subscribers (with 10% smartphone users) but this will increase to 620 million mobile internet subscribers (with 45% smartphone users) in the next five years. Thus, a massive audience will be regularly looking towards mobile-first entertainment companies to cater to their entertainment needs. Advertisers will also look towards these companies to access and communicate with this audience. Media giants of the past like Time (built on print), Viacom (built on cable), were built on key innovations in distribution and production. Today, the same opportunity exists and the media giants of the future will leverage new technology and content creation paradigms to deliver engaging content to audiences, and in the process, build sustainable competitive advantages.