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We want to give the power of information back to the people: News Republic’s Shafi Saxena

The Chief Brand Officer of Mobile and media publishing app talks about how the app has grown, with 40 editions worldwide and how localisation of content is key to strengthening the brand’s presence

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | November 27, 2015

Shafi Saxena Shafi Saxena

Mobile and media publishing app News Republic entered the Indian market six months back. Today, it boasts of 40 editions worldwide with content partnership with over 1100 leading news organizations, News Republic has carved a niche as a global news syndicator with highly awarded and top rated mobile apps for smartphones, Tablets and other connected devices sharing 50,000 unique articles every day.

Shafi Saxena, Chief Brand Officer, News Republic seems confident about the growth in the Indian market and shares the journey of the brand with  BestMediaInfo. Edited excerpts:

What has the growth been like?

It has been quite encouraging so far. We have some really good partners for the brand like Hindustan Times, Tehelka, Mint and more. The Indian market has responded well. I am really proud to tell you that within just six months we are available in 7 local Indian languages along with English. We have added some interesting localised content too.

Give us a sense of the Indian market when it comes to consuming news on the digital medium

The growth has been quite encouraging. India’s unique visitors to online news and information sites have grown from 31 million in 2011 to 45 million in 2014, an increase of 45%, according to an analysis by ComScore.

With the advent of the digital era, the traditional newspaper reading habit has undergone a paradigm shift. Gone are the days when people would scan through newspapers to read about what’s happening around the world.  The brand aims at starting a global news revolution, giving the power of information back to the people, connecting the world through mobile.

What is the Unique Selling Point for News Republic?

We have a very simple layout and clear vision of what we want to disseminate to our consumers.

How has the app grown?

The News Republic app is available in over 40 local editions, covering 29 languages and the news app has the widest global outreachIt is available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Samsung Watch (Gear S2). Interestingly, the News Republic app is preloaded on any new HTC devices.

Today we have 1,500 licensed publishers and 1 mn topics are available to personalize the apps from and 60% of users regularly personalize their news topics. We have 12.5 million active users and over 3 billion News Views (news stories viewed) every month on the apps globally. That’s over 1,200 News Views every second. Not only that but users spend 6 minutes per day on average on each News Republic app – that’s 3 hours per month. 4.6/5 is the average rating of the apps on the application stores, making them the best rated news apps to download (over 250,000 ratings).

On the awards front, we have won many awards like Best Mobile Media & Publishing App at Mobile World Congress 2015, Editor’s Choice on Google Play.

How do you deal with competition?

As I had mentioned during the launch, we are not competing with anyone. Our vision and mission is very simple, people who know better do better so we really believe in disseminating the right content at the right time and to the right set of audience. We also believe in starting a conversation with what is trending and issues that are of some concern to people. Our idea is not to grab information and then give it to people but to collect all the relevant content under one roof and then disseminate as per the need and demand of the consumers.

What were your expectations from the Indian market when you entered and how well have those expectations been met?

We have had positive expectations from the Indian market and they have accepted us well. The only learning was the need for local language and content which we have covered. Bandwidth was an issue but we offer the app content that is manageable in low bandwidth conditions as well. India has witnessed a sharp growth in mobile usage and is evolving just like News Republic.

What kind of marketing strategies did you follow and how are you planning to take things ahead in the coming future?

We believe in spreading awareness through word- of- mouth and our work would help us. We have been going to institutions and colleges to let the students know what we are. We are partnering and sponsoring events at IITs so that people get to experience our product.

How do you create an interesting reader experience for the users?

Consumers should tell us that! We have a very simple and easy way of consuming content on our app. We have a smart and intelligent way of providing every consumer the kind of content they want. We have a very well-developed technology in our app that gathers the interest of each and every consumer and kind of content they prefer. We do not impose notifications every minute or hour on consumers. We just send out two notifications which a consumer is free to discontinue.

Is the revenue model working for you?

As of now our strategy is not to make money but spread awareness about what we are. News Republic is a free to download app. We have both subscription/revenue-sharing and advertising based models.

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