Small, Bite-Sized and intresting...

Ambika Shaligram
Saturday, 17 November 2018

...No we are not talking about food here. These are the parameters of how content is being consumed online. Two content aggregator platforms tell us how they see an upward rise in the segment

The technological advances that ushered in the second decade of the 21 st century are invasive and intrusive, to say the least. How we live, eat, travel and read has changed. Complementing and growing parallel with smartphones and audio, video technology, are the content aggregators, blogging platforms and podcast directory.

We talk to two such content aggregators — Hubhopper and Momspresso — who are keeping pace with how the millenials are reading and writing. The content that they have on their platforms are bite-sized, fresh capsules. 

Gautam Raj Anand, founder and CEO of Hubhopper, which claims to be the country’s largest podcast directory, tells us about the trends in the segment, and how it is poised to grow by leaps and bounds. 

Anand has worked in the banking sector before becoming a tech entrepreneur. And, what prompted him to make the switch was his interest in consuming fresh content. Says he, “I am an avid consumer of content available on the internet. Be it in-depth scholarly articles, thriller/ noir based shows or light-hearted entertainment, I am a huge enthusiast of it all. From early on, I was a keen follower of websites and applications such as Reddit, Netflix and Audible. While working with Barclays, the process of disillusionment started.  I would always be on the lookout for fresh content whenever I would get some time and found myself increasingly looking for small nuggets of content that would fit into those coffee and lunch breaks! I soon realised that mine was not an isolated case. I saw my peers had a huge appetite for new content but with a caveat that they should be aggregated in easy-to-use platforms. Thus, Hubhopper came into being.” 

Through Hubhopper app, people can access the content without having to go through the laborious procedure it is currently disseminated in, by bringing it all to a single platform. “We have built the country’s largest directory of podcasts and publishers, bridging the gap between creators and consumers. There are no literary parameters, or otherwise. We go by audience’s demand. However, the editorial team ensures that the content is not inappropriate or instigating in any manner,” he adds. 

Hubhopper’s consumer base is multilingual and so is the content. It currently has articles and podcasts available in five languages: English, Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil, thus catering to a wider set of audiences with a regional appeal. Going by the audience’s usage, articles on self-help, DIYs, mythologies and new-age technology are a hit with the readers/listeners. “Desi or Indianised content is what appeals to people the most,” says Anand, adding “And that is precisely what we try bringing out.” 

In order to make the app more accessible, the team has decreased the size of their application from 23 MB to 5 MB, because everyone wishes to gain as much as they can using little data. “This move has had a positive impact on our retention rates as well, with a Monthly Active Users (MAUs) figure of 5, 00,000 while our base of Daily Active Users (DAUs) stands strong at approximately 70,000,” he adds. 

With the podcasts being in audio format, it is easy for the users to listen to their desired content as they multitask. In fact, the audio content format is perfectly suited for the Indian society, which has a rich history of passing legacies through stories. Also, most Indians have a strong bond with radio and so audio podcasts recreate the nostalgic chord. 

Anand also intends to reach out to as many regional teams and individual content creators as he can. He says that this is beneficial in a tri-lateral way.  “The consumers are getting the content that they desire for, the creators are getting the platform that they need, and our organisation too is flourishing. We envision Hubhopper to become the bridge between the creators of content and the consumers,” he explains. 

The youngster points out that there is undoubtedly an immense potential for development in the segment on both global as well as national scale. “A number of factors contribute to this. For instance, a rise in the ownership of smartphones is a major one. It has been projected that around 96 per cent of mobile users in India will be using a smartphone by 2020, with the overall figure estimated being 1 billion. Apart from that, the number of content creators have multiplied four-fold within a year. There has been an incredible growth in consumption as well, and due to this, various new platforms emerged in the year gone by. In fact, the industry has witnessed an unbelievable growth of 2400 per cent in the last two years. The thirst for such content as well as aggregating platforms is only going to enhance in the years to come,” he elaborates. 

When mothers get together, one story is repeated ad nauseam — how they have to convince their husbands to get involved in child rearing. The picture is changing slowly with men like Vishal Gupta, Prashant Sinha, Asif Mohamed, contributing to it. The three started a content platform, Momspresso in 2010. The trio realised that their generation couldn’t rely so much on their parents when it came to bringing up kids, or the issues that young mothers had to deal with. The knowledge flow was now lateral — that is amongst the mothers. 

In keeping with the global trends, where mothers make up the most prolific blogging community, they realised that there was an inherent need for such a platform in India as well. With Momspresso, the founders sought to create a safe environment where mothers could share their parenting experiences, support each other, voice their triumphs and sorrows and also nurture the fabulous community of moms across the country.

Gupta gives us more details. 

It’s interesting to know that three men initiated this concept. What are your respective wives’ thoughts on this? What role do they play in the project? Says Gupta, “At Momspresso, our vision is to inspire the woman in every mother. We want to support moms across the country, not just in their journeys as parents but also in their lives as wives, daughters, and most importantly as women! While our wives do not play an active role in the operations, they are proud of what we are trying to do and hence extremely supportive of our efforts.” 

What sets Momspresso apart from similar platforms is that 95 per cent of their content is user generated. “This essentially means that we have mums sharing their stories with other mums in the form of both text and video. Further, we have an edge over competitors due to the multi-lingual nature of our content. Momspresso offers content in several languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi and Telugu. Another aspect that makes us unique is that we have dedicated support groups catering to women dealing with different phases of life. Lastly, we have a robust business model where we work with 75 different brands that are targeting mothers such as J&J, Pampers, Dettol, Dove, Nestle, American Standard,” adds Gupta. 

The founder says that there has been a huge change since they initiated the concept. “When we began, 60 per cent of our content was consumed through desktop, while today, 95 per cent is consumed via mobile. Finally, on the back of regional and vernacular content, we have seen our user base spread from Tier 1 to Tier 2 and 3 cities as well. Further, we have added video content to our previous text-only approach in order to appeal to a wider audience,” he says. 

“In the next four years, the number of new internet users is expected to be approximately 400 million. It is projected that nine out of 10 new internet users will be regional language users and 55 per cent of these users will be women. These are two significant tailwinds for us. The demand for audio content is also going to be a game changer,” adds Gupta. 

The blogs that are available on Momspresso pass through rigorous process of curation. Only 30 per cent of the blogs that they receive are published on the platform. “We have a set of guidelines that every piece of content has to adhere to and quality is absolutely key,” he emphasises. 

Does the team have any plan to expand on the subject to include fashion, food which might appeal to female readers? Answers Gupta, “Since we’re addressing both facets of a mom — as a parent and woman — our content includes all topics of interest ranging from fashion and food to parenting. Our readers have often referred to the platform as a safe environment to express themselves without the fear of judgement. A lot of positive feedback stems from the fact that Momspresso is a platform where they enjoy the support of other mothers going through similar experiences. Several of them have mentioned that they love the platform as it enables them to earn some money and more importantly, re-discover their identity as women.”

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