The Covid-19 has brought about a lot of changes in the way we consume content. Be it entertainment or news. While the constant research by BARC India and Nielsen in the past seven weeks have proved that News consumption has reached a new high; across television and digital.
To dissect this further and bring you views from different voices of the industry, Medianews4u spoke to Azhar Iqubal, Co-Founder and CEO, Inshorts and Public. I am sure that most of us reading this story would know what Inshorts is… but for the ones who don’t know, Inshorts is an online news aggregator application that provides news in the most summarized way and presents to its readers the crux of the information in a news article in 60 words or less. It fits brilliantly for all the millennials out there whose attention span is very less, including me.
What spike in users or time spent or downloads have you seen on Inshorts during the Covid-19 lockdown/outbreak?
COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns have sent people in panic mode like never before, and misinformation has only added to the chaos. Everyone needs credible sources of information and ways to stay connected with their communities. We are putting in our best efforts to ensure the same through our apps, Inshorts and Public. Inshorts and Public have seen a surge in downloads and the combined increase in the download is over 3 lakh daily downloads.
Great! That’s a huge number… and what about Public?
For our recently launched App Public, the number of downloads has tripled. The public is the only digital platform that provides its users with verified and real-time local updates and allows them to record and share the happenings in their vicinity. The app has become the most downloaded app (in the News category) in the world on Android (as per Sensor Tower).
The Public App is also being used by local politicians and District officials to share valuable updates around COVID 19 in their locality and help debunk rumors and fake news to prevent misinformation and panic in the community. We have observed a 50% jump in the time spent by an individual on an app. Normally for Public, it is 22-24 minutes but now it has crossed 30 minutes. Public App has gained massive popularity in Tier 2-3 cities where people are increasingly relying on the digital space for news and communication.
Have you seen a spike in advertising during this period?
In this time of crisis, all businesses globally are suffering due to the pandemic and lockdown situation. While we all hope this settles down soon, the digital content consumption is growing rapidly across different platforms. In terms of specific sectors, we are seeing an increase in advertising spend by companies operating in education and entertainment (OTT) categories. These players are using our platform to reach out to potential consumers.
How are you as a news aggregator platform innovating in the presentation of news for your reader?
Inshorts is India’s number one English news app which curates the most significant news of the day from top media sources and it summarizes them in a crisp 60-word format. Inshorts is using several creative and engaging ways to inform its users around different aspects of COVID-19 and has a different category for Coronavirus news which features all the important updates at both global and national levels.
Users can also track the live status of the outbreak through the recently launched Counter card. The app also has a built-in, shareable digital magazine #InsightsbyInshorts, around various COVID related themes – Myth busters, Precautionary measures, Government announcements, Infographics, FAQs, etc. The app also has Rumours vs. Fact cards, to invalidate fake news and rumors being circulated over social media.
Which are the languages that are being preferred by users? Any specific trends spotted?
Inshorts app is available in English and Hindi. 90% of the user base in English and 10% in Hindi. In the last 1 month, we have seen a spike of 100% across the board in the total number of downloads per day.
While, Public, which is a location-based social network is available in 5 Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil and Telugu). Our major focus has been on Hindi and Bengali speaking states, so a substantial part of our user base is in Hindi and Bengali languages. In the coming quarter, we are planning to expand in other languages as well.
Tell us about the spike in news sharing on other apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc.?
Our social media app – Public is a hyperlocal social media platform that helps people to connect with their local communities. As of now, it is the only platform which is providing authentic and verified information to the people about their surroundings. Hence, they are aggressively using the app to view and share all important updates in real-time, such as locations and timings of essential services like grocery stores and hospitals, etc., quarantine arrangements in their surroundings. We are seeing a 90% surge in the sharing of content.
How do you plan to engage with users that you have gained during the COVID-19 crisis?
As the name of the app ‘Public’ suggests, our primary objective is to help people stay connected and updated about their surroundings. In the current scenario of a pandemic outbreak, it is of utmost importance that our users stay connected with their communities, and hence we are focused on building platforms that help in achieving that. We are thankful for the tremendous response that we have received from our users and trust that they will continue to use the platform for local updates on events, politics, breaking news, and other local developments. We are consistently working towards creating a roadmap to further engage our users and provide them with the best possible solutions.