Founded in 2009 by former Facebook employees Adam D'Angelo & Charlie Cheever, the California-based digital knowledge platform currently has nearly 300 million monthly active users globally. e4m caught up with Quora’s Chief Revenue Officer Vinay Pandey, who is based in Dallas (US), during his recent visit to India to understand the company’s growth strategy and its efforts to monetise the content. Quora caters to nearly 100 million unique visitors in India every month.
When asked how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Quora, especially its user base and policies? Pandey said, “The pandemic has had an effect on everything we do. We started seeing plenty of questions being asked around the pandemic itself. The questions related to inflation and economic policies also increased, prompting the contributors to create content. The pandemic became one of the growth drivers for quora as many people visited the platform looking for answers on plenty of topics.”
How does Quora plan to take on the free encyclopedia - Wikipedia, and platforms like Yahoo Answers and Reddit? “Unlike other knowledge platforms, Quora has a Q&A format that evokes a human approach to problems and multiple viewpoints. We have real names and credentials. We don't have anonymous answers. More importantly, we offer personalisation which makes sure that content is unique, useful and relevant,” says Pandey.
In August 2021, Quora launched a monetisation opportunity for creators in 25 countries to help them make money from the content they create.
“Quora wants to make sharing knowledge more financially sustainable for creators. Although many people are motivated and able to spend their time writing on Quora just to share their knowledge, many others could share more for financial benefits,” says Pandey, adding that Quora wants to empower its users by helping them earn on the content they create.
According to Quora, Creators have now two options when it comes to earning:
Publishing posts/answers under Quora+: the creator can create subscriber-only content and earn money based on engagement (read time, etc) from their followers who are subscribed to Quora+. The earning mechanism is similar to Medium, but Quora takes less than Medium, and the earning potential is higher due a larger potential subscriber base.
Offering a Space subscription: Subscription Spaces provide a members-only experience that allows the community to form floors. The floor is $1/month, and the creator earns around 90% of their subscription fees. Subscribers get special benefits/privileges, for example, getting access to all of the content - both free and paid - in the space and discussing answers with the creator.
Quora has a well-placed content moderation policy to ensure that the platform is not used for misinformation, insists Pandey.
There are three levels of moderation that all Quora content gets passed through. There are automated moderation in the form of machine learning algorithms, followed by manual moderation in the form of an extended moderation community and then user-generated moderation where users can flag low-quality content. When they do so, that content when it is downvoted or reported it gets automatically collapsed.
“Because of these safety mechanisms that we have built-in, we typically see that Quora is a safer environment for people to come and contribute as well as to consume information from,” Pandey explains.
Brand promotions versus authenticity
There is a whole network of freelancers adding inputs with brand promotions. Has the authenticity of the platform been impacted because of so many brand interventions? To which Pandey said, “Unique thing about quora is the Q&A format that ensures people with the right credentials respond to the queries. Our feed ranking ensures that users get correct information, not the sponsored content. Brands are aware of that. They also present themselves as brand partners and ensure objective answers of the questions raised by users.”
Quora started placing ads in 2016 but has still limited the number of ads on the platform compared to other digital platforms. Does having intellectuals on the platform limit Quora’s advertising potential? Pandey denies. “Our users belong to all categories ranging from entertainment to technology to economy. Similarly, we have brand partners in every vertical. We are in the middle of the funnel where people come when they are in the consideration phase. Our display and image ads are very high performing. Bigger brands take advantage of that.”
Our team in India is actively working towards helping brands leverage Quora's high intent and growing audience, 75 per cent y-o-y to be precise, Pandey insists.
The platform’s own study suggests that 71% of Quora users in India are more likely to be involved in the purchase of IT consulting services, 61% in the purchase of business computers and 22% in the purchase of internet/website hosting services.
As per Wikipedia, Quora was valued at USD 2 billion in 2019. However, Pandey refuses to confirm revenue figures. He said, “I would not be able to share those details. Our teams are growing. In India, we have three offices now. Our advertising and agency partnerships are growing. We have partnered with IAS and Google campaign manager so that our measurement is transparent. We will invest more in the ad formats that provide more value. We will make efforts to engage with thought leaders and partners and share the success.”