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In the media business? Solve the content puzzle first: COO of Viacom18 Digital Ventures

Ishan Battarcharya | June 29, 2016
Gaurav Gandhi, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures, highlights how media businesses should focus on evolving in the digital era and why analytics happen to be a goldmine for media houses.

Digital media happens to be a vertical that is extremely dependent on connectivity or data, in that case what are the challenges involved in the process and how do you go about implementing tech to overcome this?

The challenges are multifold. The increasing proliferation of smart devices in India is being led by low cost Android handsets which typically have comparatively lower storage and processing abilities - hence there are only as many apps that a person can download or keep on his phone. Also, data prices in India are still on the higher side in comparison to voice costs. Additionally, technological infrastructure is often found wanting - with low fixed line broadband penetration, low data speeds and congested networks.

The heartening thing is that each of these challenges can also be seen as an opportunity.  The next 24 months will see explosion of better quality handset penetration, dramatic improvement in data speeds, serious tariff rationalization of mobile data and much stronger tail winds aiding fixed line broadband penetration.

In the interim, we need to ensure our product caters to the networks and speeds in the market as video streaming can happen at various bit rates. To give consumers quick access and yet great quality we work on adaptive bit rate. We also need to ensure that the apps are light, especially considering the memory issue on phones. Simultaneously we need to look at features like offline viewing - which become relevant in markets like ours.

How analytics is helping you personalize your content?

Analytics in this business is one of the most strategic assets one can have. Every single user consuming our content is a vital data source for us and every interaction with our product or content is a data point. There are tools available that we can literally get to know what 'a' user did on our product on a screen-by-screen basis. Yes, these are expensive tools, but gives great insight on product performance.  Similarly on content, we can get great insight on behavior of users using various tools one has - these could aid you in better targeting or personalization and some times even guide you on content creation.

We use analytics for - product usage and functionality, content consumption metrics and recommendations for marketing and re-targeting and lastly better ad-targeting. Data generated by the users can be a goldmine- one just needs to know how to use it properly.

What impact will digitization have on print media? Will it ultimately perish?

Everything needs to evolve - to adapt to the users expectation and to remain relevant in times to come. Just as TV networks are evolving and looking at themselves as video content creators and not broadcasters, the print media should not just be defined by the word 'paper', but by editorial and the written word. I feel that is not going away anywhere.


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