Desi social apps eye ad-based revenue monetization model

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The monetization strategies include banner ads, and those based on video and push notifications

 Post the ban on Chinese apps, a number of Indian social media apps came to the forefront to fill the vacuum created by TikTok. However, the element missing was a sustainable monetization model. After chasing downloads and MAUs for close to six months now, these homegrown apps are looking at monetization to generate ad-based revenue. This model entails banner ads, video ads, push notification ads and more.

Apps like Public, ShareChat, Chingari, Roposo are all banking on an ad revenue driven monetization model.

According to Gautam Mehra, Chief Data & Product Officer- dentsu Asia Pacific (APAC) & CEO – dentsu Programmatic – South Asia, “These are typically CPM buys. They can be bought directly or via programmatic. Also, there are fixed engagement models that are being worked out as well. For example, ShareChat has a model based on brand hashtags and associated content. These are early days for these companies and one would have to wait to see how profitable and scalable these models turn out in the longer run.”

Talking of ad solutions, Satyajit Deb Roy, Director – Sales, ShareChat said, “Our strength among the Bharat (native language) internet users across the length and breadth of the country, coupled with our ad solutions, is opening new marketing avenues for marketers who want to connect with language-first audiences. Brands are very interested to reach out to the unexplored language-dominated market and today, only ShareChat has the capabilities to offer the required user engagement that brands need beyond metros and Tier I cities. Today, ShareChat has been included in AOP (Annual Operating Plan) by over 20 B2C brands, and it’s adding up month-on-month.”

There is a robust ad-tech platform to help brands reach scale, with native advertising in video and banner assets, and drive impact through the homepage pinned post, customised for every brand, which gets visible to the targeted users as the first post on their homepage, Deb Roy further said.

ShareChat has introduced the ‘First pinned post’, which appears as the first post when a user logs into the app. They also introduced the exit interstitial that appears to targeted users while exiting the platform. This generally includes a banner or a 6-second video. There are other solutions too like the 360-degree solution Divas that drives engagement for the brands through branded user-generated content (UGC), hashtag challenges along with top creators and influencers to drive KPIs like sales, downloads etc. They are also experimenting with programmatic advertising.

“We already have very favourable responses from brands. In just about a year since we started monetization, over 150 brands have signed up with us and worked with us on multiple occasions,” added Deb Roy.

Brands are looking at driving engagement on the platforms with impactful visibilities and high CTRs through not just ad tools but also content. “Video as a format is the most popular format in the world of digital advertising and Roposo with its large scale is in a great position to deliver that solution to advertisers. We provide end-to-end video-first advertising solutions for marketers. Given the nature of the platform, the solutions are core and native to social video apps,” said Bikash Chowdhury, CMO of Glance, that owns Roposo.

Hashtag challengers, brand endorsement through influencer marketing and native video advertising are some of the formats Ropso is looking at.

While every platform has their own unique monetization strategies, at the bottom of every monetization model lies three basic principles of driving discovery, engagement, and action on the part of consumers.

Chingari too uses both influencer driven and platform driven monetization models.

“Given the traction that we have and the incoming interests from brands, we have been monetizing from the early stages. The major reason we see brands showing interest in us is because of the vast and deep Bharat penetration. HashTag influencer challenges and a few other models, which would be revealed with time, are some of our offerings,” said Sumit Ghosh, Co-founder and CEO of Chingari App.

What kind of brands are using these platforms?

“It’s a mixed bag. But clearly brands come on these apps from an engagement perspective. It’s in the middle of the brand aware of YouTube and the performance marketing of Search. Digitally native businesses like Oyo and Amazon are key advertisers for them. Nevertheless, compared to their overall media spends, spends on these platforms are still like a drop in the ocean. ROI currently is being measured on soft metrics like Engagement Rate and CTR. However, if they want to be a serious player, they will have to mature to KPI-led performance marketing or go for a massive reach and become a dominant brand player,” Mehra noted.

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Tasmayee Laha Roy

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