As news aggregator Dailyhunt looks towards its big shift to video, the company wishes to be a one-stop shop for regional content needs. Umang Bedi of Dailyhunt speaks with Shinmin Bali on what lies ahead for the platform. Edited excerpts:
Dailyhunt is eyeing regional language content for growth. What’s your strategy to support this?
We are driven by AI and Machine Learning (ML) and in the future, will move into blockchain technologies. We deliver aggregated, personalised news content, videos and live television in 15 different languages. TV gives you a reach of about 800 million people but nearly 95% of all ad dollars is for non-English content. For print, it is nearly 80%. Around 2022-23, the internet is going to pivot to about 750-800 million users, with growth in English users from 175 million to 199 million, whereas regional will grow from 200 million to nearly 600 million. So, nine out of every 10 internet users will be local language patrons. Our mission is to be the largest Indic platform empowering a billion Indians to socialise, discover and consume content that not only informs but is also enriching and entertaining.
How are Dailyhunt’s user metrics tracking currently?
Our monthly active users (MAUs) across the group today are 103 million. Daily active users (DAUs) have crossed 20 million. We have over 450 advertisers and around 1,000 publishers. The time spent by DAUs is 25 minutes per day. This is equivalent to Facebook and some other global platforms. The 25 minutes would be spread throughout the day with an average person having two to three sessions. During election time, the traffic goes up to about 45-50 minutes a day. This tells you that users are deeply engaged. We are now looking at a massive pivot to video to a platform that’s a content marketplace and deeply social but built on a content graph rather than a social one.
How is customer acquisition happening beyond tier I?
Sixty four percent of our consumers are below the age of 35. About 36% are between 35-45. Of the 64%, two-thirds are below 25 years. About 30% of users overall are from tier I; the rest are from tier II and III. Today, nearly 40% of new users come onboard organically. In my mind, one has to figure out a way to further drive the viral factor for tier II, III, IV and rural markets. Viral content doesn’t mean scandalous content. It just means it is really pertinent and meaningful to the audience at that minute, which can only happen when you have deeper data, deeper ML, deeper signals and AI. That is our single biggest acquisition strategy.
What are the brand’s growth milestones?
Over the next two-odd years, we intend to nearly triple our MAUs and DAUs. Unlike the global giants who understand tier I elite India, we understand Bharat. The second thing we are pivoting on is experience, to double engagement to cross 50 minutes. This will largely be through video.
In the feed environment, nearly half of it would be autoplay video, viral content, memes, content across politics, Bollywood, astrology, divinity, cricket, government and education — all deeply hyperlocal and regional.
We are also looking at professionally generated content creators. We are not talking about OTT. We are also driving up user generated content which can be text or video. This will serve as a massive user acquisition channel. Then there is a new stream of content partners. There are over 10,000 stringers in the network in India who are moving from creating just text content to creating video. Next, there are people that are giving us highly local content. Given this, all our advertising is also going to pivot to video; so in-feed ads will autoplay in a similar manner to what you see on giant global environments. By the end of the year, we will realistically see time spent go up by 30-40%.
Is a subscription model on the cards?
All content on our platform is free. On the internet what really works is a free model and one has got to find a way to monetise beyond subscriptions. OTT is different. But in a feed environment when you accumulate a base of 200 or 300 million, monetisation will move beyond advertising.
In my mind, in a feed environment, we won’t put up a paywall. We will have some original content but it will be free.
Users are very unforgiving of brands that pivot their strategy just to make money. We have an ad-load that is far lower than any of the other feed environments I am aware of. Over time you will also see us driving more meaningful content-based experiences because that is where both brands and consumers will see value.