15M app downloads, 3B pageviews per month: What publishers can learn from the meteoric rise of Indian news app Inshorts

What's New in Publishing 12 Mar 2020 08:50

Inshorts, founded in 2013, has become one of most popular news apps in India with more than 15M downloads across Android and iOS, and 3B page views per month (Android). 

Its users are active for an average of 15.4 days per month and 4.5 days per week. The company which primarily relies on ad revenues, became operationally profitable in November 2017 after reaching $3.4M in revenue, compared to $0.4M in 2016. Its revenue for 2019-20 was $14M, according to a WAN-IFRA report.

Source: Slide deck: Technology and news (Deepit Purkayastha, DMI 2020)

“Redefine the future of news consumption via mobile”

The service was launched in 2013 by Azhar Iqubal, Anunay Arunav of IIT Delhi, and Deepit Purkayastha of IIT Kharagpur, as a Facebook page which provided 60-word news summaries. It became very popular and within a few months, the team launched a mobile app called ‘News in Shorts.’ 

The app was selected for the TLabs Accelerator program and raised seed funding from Times Internet and other noted investors, including Sachin and Binny Bansal, the founder of Indian online shopping giant, Flipkart. Sachin Bansal said at that time, “I am a user of the product and it saves a lot of my time every day. News in Shorts has the opportunity to redefine the future of news consumption via mobile.”

“Once technology and form factor begin working harmoniously, only then can a publisher leverage that disruptive force. When Inshorts was launched 6 years ago, most media companies took print content and dumped it on a website, resulting in an overwhelming consumer experience,” Purkayastha said at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media India Conference in New Delhi.

“It is vital to break the echo chambers”

“We wanted to maintain a balance where you find relevant stories and at the same time, get stories which probably are not entirely of your interest but are of some importance. We have not tried to make the user give clear signals to us, so that reduces the decision point from the user,” says Purkayastha

“3x more engagement as compared to text ads”

The ads offered by the platform can be “broadly divided into six categories — out of which ‘60 words branded story’ is the most preferred one. Whereas the most engaging formats are ‘Digital Magazines’ and ‘Fact Cards’; the former is a mix of creatives with gifs, videos, and polls, and latter is a compilation of interesting facts about a brand, industry or an occasion day,” writes Karuna Sharma, Associate Editor, Business Insider India.

“Our typical poll gets about 400,000 responders in a single day. We realize the huge ground of resources we’re sitting on, and we intend to make full use of it this year,” says Purkayastha.

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