YuktaMedia is excited to introduce the second speaker in the “Meet The Experts” series. The goal of this series is to interview leading professionals in the digital publishing industry around the globe. The goal is to learn from the experts, especially now, that the Publishing industry is hurting the most. We hope that by sharing and learning from each other’s experiences Publishers will continue to not only survive but thrive over the years to come.
Our second interview is with Anupam Sharma, Senior Manager – Programmatic Monetization, Zee Media Corporation Limited. Anupam has 360 degrees exposure in handling top-notch publisher accounts, campaign management, providing feasible solutions to clients, and building healthy relationships thereby achieving high customer satisfaction. Some of the Publishers that he has worked with are Zeenews, india.com, moneycontrol.com, www.business-standard.com, etc.
We are grateful to Anupam Sharma for taking the time out of his busy schedule and participate in this initiative of giving back to the Publishing community.
Aditya Bhelande – COVID-19 has added to the misery of already hurting Publishers. Looking back what and where did things go wrong for Publishers?
Anupam Sharma – Web publishers are a vital part of the digital ecosystem and when the entire system gets burned, we must share the heat of it. There was a huge slump in the advertising spends at the beginning of COVID-19 in India, we saw the drastic downfall in eCPMs and fills both, however, as the world is now coping up with this pandemic, demand, and supply chain has also got accustomed with the #NewNormal and things are getting back in place now.
Aditya Bhelande – With Publisher revenues dwindling, would it make sense for Publishers to invest in any technology/platform (SaaS or in-house)? If yes, which business areas/technologies would you suggest?
Anupam Sharma – Yes, publishers should work in the areas of Data mining to the next level, accuracy in the data for better and enriched targeting is the need of an hour, this will improve the ROI for the advertisers which is directly proportional to the publisher’s revenue. Secondly, I would say that the user reading experience should be enhanced, we should offer a seamless reading experience to the user by smartly plug-in the ads in it, be it either audience or contextual selling.
Aditya Bhelande – With 3rd party cookies going away soon, what steps do you think Publishers should take so that they are ready to brace the impact on revenue and business in general?
Anupam Sharma – That’s a big concern since Google has released its first PR regarding the “Death of Third-Party cookies” at the beginning of this year. In order to sustain here, we should start working on the first-party data, cause no one can understand your own data the way you understand and own it, and we have already started this process with the user “Sign Up” process on our very own product said INDIA.COM and WION and this is just a start, we have a long way to go.
Aditya Bhelande – How should Publisher manage their audiences, related data, and leverage these from a monetization perspective?
Anupam Sharma – As I said earlier, the publisher should consider their First Party data as a gold mine, the better you leverage it, the more you monetize, only collecting data by sign-up process won’t help, extracting the right data, analyzing, segregating, and integrating with your ad server is equally important. With the increase of greater privacy and transparency demanded by users, we must adopt the changes, publishers must work with their tech team on profiling their own audience integration accompanied by partnering with second-party data providers wherever required.
Aditya Bhelande – There have been some talks about Publishers forming consortium’s to take on BIG Tech. Is that feasible? What would be the challenges and is there a way to make a consortium successful?
Anupam Sharma – Ah, Yeah! I also heard this so-called “Publisher Consortium” thing in the last couple of years, but in my viewpoint, I don’t think that this would work successfully in the Indian market, we are still an evolving marketplace which is full of competition. Everyone is just running the short-term revenue rat race, there is no concrete long-term road map which can unite all.
Aditya Bhelande – How will the rise of OTT impact traditional web Publishers (News, Finance, Sports, etc.)? Is there potentially an opportunity for web Publishers?
Anupam Sharma – People do consume these platforms for a different set of purposes, like TV, OTT has also a separate consumer base, web publishers were there in the past and would be there in the future, with their own consumers. Now, we need to strategize that in this limited audience base where the competition is cut-throat, what difference we are making in our offerings and USP. Grabbing new users in the current ecosystem is difficult, and I can proudly say that we are on the right track which is extensively revealed by our growing ComScore numbers, like last year we ranked in around 8th position as a network, however, in the latest chart now we are proudly on #2. And if you talk about this pandemic time, news sites has recorded huge spikes in their traffic, so are we, which is being constant for now, as consumption of news has been increased in multiple folds during the lockdown, everyone started working from home, on the other hand, OTT platforms also seen good spike at the beginning of lockdown which got dropped down after a while because there was no new content for viewers to watch, neither originals nor TV syndicated ones.
Aditya Bhelande – Which revenue generation strategies should Publishers now pursue in addition to advertising revenue? And how will these strategies differ by Publisher size?
Anupam Sharma – Be a big or small-sized publisher, in my perspective “Solution-Oriented Offerings” should be the game plan at all times, we should not just talk about giving our real estate to advertise, however, by understanding the problem statement of our advertisers and designing tailor-made solutions for them always works, and at the same time, this increases the ROI of the spenders by which they become your regular client. Along with that, we should have the right focus on syndication, content recommendation partners, and giving an ad-free environment by charging a premium to the elite readers should also be part of the strategy.
Aditya Bhelande – Do you believe that Publishers today have a global presence similar to say a New York Times? What suggestions would you give to aspiring Publishers to get there?
Anupam Sharma – Absolutely Yes, we have already launched WION – World In One News which is a global platform and gives news from across the globe, this is being well-read and accepted in the English speaking countries and by NRIs. We launched this site in June 2016 and the kind of warm welcome and love this portal has received was just overwhelming and that support gives us the motivation to keep up the good work in this genre. Cutting the long story short, the fundamental is, the more you grab the International audiences the better eCPMs you earn. 😊
Aditya Bhelande – What would be your top three recommendations for Publishers as they try to get through COVID-19 and beyond?
Anupam Sharma – Understand the market moves, adopt the changes, and optimize accordingly.
Aditya Bhelande – Any other questions/comments from your side?
Anupam Sharma – Just keep a close eye on the latest movement in the Ad Tech space and keep on implementing the relevant ones.
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