Hyperlocal news platform Way2News claims to offer reliable short news stories extending beyond districts to villages and mandals from local sources, in eight languages.
“Other media probably may not be that reliable compared to us. We have solved the reliability challenge using our technology and our experience in the language of the market. Digital as a medium does not enjoy the trust that print and traditional media generally enjoys. We have brought that reliability to our content, even if it is contributed by the citizens from various parts of a state. All this happens through AI – it finalises the quality, authenticity of the content. Over the years we have built algos that can actually eliminate the bad actors from the system,” said Raju Vanapala, Founder & CEO, Way2News, in conversation with MediaNews4u.com.
The platform founded in 2015 claims over 30 million plus downloads. “90pc belongs to Telugu and Tamil, 10 million plus are current monthly active users. We do original content, there is no direct competition at this moment in our category,” he added.
Active users are growing by 15 to 20pc monthly, a metric the platform is ‘actively spending’ on, according to the Founder.
“Content that we are doing is highly relevant and relatable as well. Most of these hyper local guys are bothered about what’s happening around them. We made the content relevant to these guys and that’s what made us differentiated from other apps or competition,” explained Vanapala.
The platform runs one ad impression for every 10 news items. With users on average flipping through 100 news items a day, the claimed CTR is 1.5 to 3 pc.
“It is guaranteed view inventory compared to others, because we display one news item on every screen with a guaranteed view for advertisers. Our retention with advertisers is very high because of this high attention rate,” the CEO added.
Geo-targeting at the mandap level and native stories are among options for advertisers.
Of 150 news stories every day, around 110 would be national/international, current affairs, economy, movies, sports (etc.) while 30 to 40 would be based on the person’s location, from the district, mandal/taluk, town or village, explained Vanapala.
A lot of the hyperlocal content is from citizen journalists and a network of professional stringers.
From Telugu to the rest of South India
“For us every language is a vertical. Rather than focusing on all eight languages at a time, we thought of going deep into every language. It is important for us to build a dense audience in every location. From the past three to four years, we started focusing on select markets. We started our journey with the Telugu market, because we are based out of Hyderabad and went deep into that market. Today Way2News is the largest and leading news app in Telugu. Now we started with Tamil and it is growing well,” remarked the Founder.
While platforms like Inshorts cater to 15 crore English speaking audiences, the remaining majority who consume in their native language remains an underserved market, contended Vanapala.
“We are not thinking about English at this moment, we are very serious about going deep into the interiors of this country, where the current media has not gone yet. The whole intent is to make our platform inclusive. Would prefer covering other regional languages rather than English,” he added.
With Tamil Nadu being the largest market in terms of population and media spends in the south, it would be a priority for Way2News, he explained. He added that the intent is to cover the South and then probably focus on other regional markets.
“We have a mandal, village, district edition. Imagine if your business is a very small business, it covers only a particular village, you can probably advertise your brand only to that village on Way2News. And if your business can impact people in that mandal, you can target only that mandal,” he explained.
“The intent is to bring dense communities at a micro level on the ground. Nobody has this kind of micro communities, especially in the interior or rural parts of the country. We have become successful in Telugu; just replicating the same formula in other states,” surmised Vanapala, on the road ahead.
The news app was in the news for raising around Rs.130 crore in Series-A from WestBridge Capital and entrepreneur Sashi Reddi in June 2022.