Marketers not sure how to use short-form video platforms to build brands: Gaurav Jain, Moj and ShareChat

Gaurav Jain, CBO, Moj and ShareChat, spoke about the short-form video platform’s journey, its monetisation strategies, key user insights and more.

By  Kashmeera SambamurthyNov 28, 2023 12:15 PM
Marketers not sure how to use short-form video platforms to build brands: Gaurav Jain, Moj and ShareChat
Gaurav Jain, chief business officer, ShareChat and Moj stated, "Advertising will remain our very big focus because we believe that with the consumer base we have, we can offer a lot of it to advertisers of all sizes in the country. We also have a micro-transactions business in which users of Moj can show their gratitude to their influencers by giving them a token. We as a platform charge some platform fees so that is another source of monetisation."

A year after TikTok, the most downloaded short-form video platform on Android, was banned in 2020, a host of short-form video platforms emerged including ShareChat’s Moj, MX Taka Tak, Gaana Hotshots, Chingari, Roposo, and Instagram Reels.

Daily active users for short-form videos that year reached 115 million, an almost 2x growth since 2018, a media report stated. Revenue for the short-form video industry is touted to reach $5.5 billion by 2023, the report said.

As of November, ShareChat and Moj stood second and third in the top 10 best short-video apps in India with 100 million downloads each, according to Next Labs. Gaurav Jain, chief business officer of Moj and ShareChat, spoke to Storyboard18 about the decade-old Brand Lift Study (BLS), its key findings and expectations, his take on the journey of Moj, its monetisation strategies, key user insights and more. Edited excerpts:

What are the key findings of the Brand Lift Study?

Today, us doing a brand lift survey is pretty common on a long-form video or on any advertising campaign that one runs on digital. So, there's nothing new about it. It's at least a 10-year old thing.

But what has happened in the last few years is that a lot of people have started consuming short-form content, which is less than 15 seconds. Marketeers of today are not sure how to utilise those platforms to build their brands. So today, if you are a marketer in an FMCG company or in a horizontal e-commerce company or a media and entertainment company, your users or your prospective customers have moved to short-form video but you probably need to catch up with them.

That is why this understanding or the way short-form videos should be utilised for marketing campaigns is very less understood and that is why we actually have pioneered what we call ‘brand lift surveys’ on influencer campaigns.

Now, many companies talk about how important influencers – large and small – are to reach out to consumers. But nobody actually says how they measure the effectiveness of those campaigns.

So we at ShareChat and Moj are very proud to announce that Moj is the first short-form video app in the country to launch a BLS on influencer campaigns.

What implications do these findings have for the marketing ecosystem?

The implications are very big. We have successfully executed BLS for prominent brands like Hero, Nivea and Samsung, which not only demonstrates our versatility but also effectiveness across diverse industry sectors. Today, if a brand manager in any of these large companies is convinced that every dollar spent on doing content marketing with Moj is leading to measurable brand outcomes, you will see a lot of brand money getting moved to these.

Till today, there wasn't a measurable way to actually say whether this worked or this does not work. Hence, a lot of marketers would lean on decade-old metrics like views and reach. But with BLS, we are able to prove the effectiveness and the impact in brand recall or purchase intent, which has a big impact because the marketing money will start moving.

What are your expectations?

Our aspirations have always been very high. We are very confident we will build India's largest short-form video app. There is no reason why a billion Indians should not be on Moj and ShareChat by 2030. There is no reason why businesses of all sizes should not be able to utilise our platform to reach out to their consumers.

Moj was introduced when Covid-19 caught hold of the world. Since 2020, how have users evolved and what has changed?

The silver lining in Covid-19, when everyone was stuck at home, was that one had a device in their phone which actually became their gateway to the world. That gateway was used not only to access information but also to get entertained. Remember, when one is stuck in such times, it is important to keep your mental health in check in order to connect to people who are near and dear to you, to follow and hear out influencers, what are their viewpoints and at the end of the day just be entertained.

Today, we are 200 million-plus users on Moj. There are more than half a million creators who make content and have a regular sustainable livelihood. Through this, our engagement time on the app is north of 35 minutes. People come to our platform not once or twice but six to eight times every day.

We started monetising Moj about a year back. We dialled up its ad loads from near zero to about 10 to 12 percent. On Moj, the user base and the engagement time have gone up year on year, while the ad load has increased significantly.

What is ad load? Every time one is consuming social media, some percentage of that is always occupied by ads, right? So that is what we call an ad load. Now that ad load is about 10 percent to 12 percent, which means every eighth video that one sees on Moj will be an ad. One would assume that doing these things will reduce Moj’s user base or reduce their engagement time. But none of that has happened. This means the users just love our app and keep coming back.

You spoke about monetisation – how has the strategy evolved?

The monetisation journey on Moj is about three years old. It is becoming stronger year by year. This year is turning out to be a great year for us. We have reduced our expenses by about 95 percent and have doubled our revenues.

Advertising will remain our very big focus because we believe that with the consumer base we have, we can offer a lot of it to advertisers of all sizes in the country. We also have a micro-transactions business in which users of Moj can show their gratitude to their influencers by giving them a token. We as a platform charge some platform fees so that is another source of monetisation.

How is the platform being competitive in a market dominated by big tech platforms?

The heart and soul of our company is actually based on a recommendation system. We have a world-class AI team that is sitting out of London today who works on this very recommendation engine and that actually… ensures that people keep coming back to our app to get entertained and to connect with their influencers.

We have built a very strong ecosystem of influencers and creators because we are a user-generated content platform in which a lot of people create content out of fun. Some of them also create because it is their job or it is their profession. Today, we have a very robust creator ecosystem of more than half a million creators on our platform. We have enabled a sustainable livelihood for them because of the content-marketing deal that we keep getting from advertisers. So, all these things ensure that we are very competitive.

In the arena of domestic short-form video apps, which one do you see as your main competitor?

With all humility, I don't think there is any domestic competition. When TikTok was banned, there were at least 10 to 12 corporates who launched their apps. Today, most of them have shut down. We also acquired a couple of them. I think our competition lies within, which is to say how ambitious we can be.

What are the key user insights driving Moj’s marketing strategies?

Today, the internet is well penetrated in tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 cities. Thankfully, many women in India use the internet. The internet is not confined to expensive phones, but $100 phones with cheap data enabled internet connectivity.

In Bangalore, you may be comfortable in English while working. But at the end of the day, you may want to consume content in Kannada because that is what entertains you. And there is no other platform that actually provides you that.

Or you are no longer interested in watching a 15-minute video while you are waiting at the airport, but you want to flick through short-form videos and just be entertained.

So the key consumer insights are that people of India today love vernacular. People of India today love short-form video. People of India want to connect with their influencers on a regular basis. We also have a lot of signals on content affinity, which is to say, ‘Is devotion a big category for Indians?’ ‘Is romance and Bollywood songs a big category?’ So all these insights enable us to make our engines only better and sharper.

Where do you see most of the users coming from on Moj?

About 60 percent of our audience is actually Gen Z and millennials. About 40 percent of our users are from tier 1 cities and the rest from tier 2 and tier 3.

We are particularly strong in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. I would even go on to say that we are the largest social media app in south India. But we have an equally strong presence in north India, west India and relatively less in east India.

How large is the regional user base and what sets that market apart?

The regional user base is much larger than the non-regional. So if English-speaking internet users of India are about 150 million, there are about 800-900 million prospective Indians who will come online and who will not consume content in English. So English will, over the years, become a very small part of India's internet. And in fact, regional vernacular will be the dominant form of expression and consumption in India.

What difference do you see in the consumption pattern of viewers today as compared to the pattern in 2020? How is Moj catering to their interests?

Today, people are not shy to express themselves authentically. It is such an evolving trend with the younger generation. The more younger people come on Moj, we see that pattern only strengthening. For example, a few years ago, the internet was supposed to be a place where you put up your perfect self.

Our users and creators on Moj are not afraid to be vulnerable. They're not afraid to put up their authentic selves. So self-expression and authenticity are only getting stronger as we get more and more young users.

Any interesting insights on top content genres that you can share?

Every day or almost every week, we get to hear of some interesting insights. One of our top categories of content is actually romance and heartbreak. Another interesting thing is that we have a lot of devotional content, which you could say is at the other end of the spectrum compared to love and heartbreak.

How have the MAUs improved over a period and currently how many monthly average users are present on Moj?

Today, we are clocking more than 200 million monthly active users. We have a lot of mom influencers, auto influencers and tech influencers.

How have influencer brand collaborations changed and evolved since 2020? Could you help with examples?

Marketers are slowly understanding the power of influencer marketing and short-form video apps. So the whole catch-up of marketers is a big change in trend itself.

I can tell you a success story. A standout success story is #JoveesWalaGow. This was a campaign run by the Jovees brand on our platform. The campaign's BLS revealed there was a 69 percent uplift in brand awareness, with 59 percent of respondents recalling Jovees' advertisements across digital platforms. So that's how nuanced this has become over the last three years.

Which are the most engaged brands on Moj? Could you share examples of activities that work?

Hero, Nivea, Samsung and Jovees. India's largest FMCG companies, India's largest gaming companies, all the media entertainment and the OTT players present today, all the consumer utility apps companies.

Many American tech companies are our advertisers. Because when they want to reach out to consumers in tier two, tier three India, we become the platform of choice. For example, WhatsApp advertises with us, Facebook advertises with us, Google, YouTube, Snapchat, Hotstar, Truecaller.

How are you using Gen AI and AI and in which areas?

We are an AI-born company. One cannot run a short-form video company with billions of hours of videos uploaded every day without running a recommendation system.

Now that will be extended to include, let's say, ‘Can we create Generative AI tools for our creators so that they can make their videos much quicker?' Or 'Can we enable Generative AI to help our advertisers to make ads creative, which are much more compelling?'

So, all this will be definitely a part of our play because we are at the heart of it, an AI company.

First Published on Nov 28, 2023 8:36 AM

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