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Small publishers are playing a big role in publishing and distributing real content, says Arjun Satya of Times Internet

The Co-founder of M360 (owned by Times Internet) explains why monetising traffic in India is hard despite the huge potential. He discusses how publishers can garner greater revenue with reduced costs

Arjun Satya

There’s a greater space and opportunity for small and regional publishers to emerge and succeed in India, believes Arjun Satya. Co-founder of M360, a platform that operates under the umbrella of Times Internet.

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“Small publishers have a greater space now as it has become increasingly hard to differentiate between real or AI-generated content. These publishers are playing a big role in publishing and distributing real content for a particular region in vernacular languages,” he said.

M360 platform helps Indian publishers navigate the dynamic digital media landscape with an end-to-end solution. Launched in June this year, the platform enables cross-platform publishing, content personalisation, audience insights, and free-and-fair advertising at scale. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform is designed to integrate comprehensive publishing capabilities with a seamless experience. It leverages Times Internet's premium ad network ‘Colombia’ to monetise the traffic at its partner publishers. It is providing digital publishers with equal opportunity to sustain, grow, and compete in their own domains.

Satya said monetising web traffic in India is hard. “Almost all digital marketing spends goes to two major platforms, leaving digital publishers resorting to low-quality ads with no guarantee on page yields. However, the potential is huge,” he said.

“Going forward, publishers will have to be more entrepreneurial by having direct control of their diversified revenue streams through avenues like direct ads, paid newsletters, freemium content, metered paywalls, podcasts, etc.,” he advised. 

Talking about how technology can help publishers grow, he said that small-to-medium publishers are seeing an upward trend in user engagement by leveraging different platform advancements such as PWA, AMP, and FB Instant Articles and distribution models like newsletters and push notifications.

He said the industry will see the resurgence of context-based advertising being auctioned and served on digital publishers by DSPs, SSPs, and Ad Networks.

He suggested that AdTech firms or marketers or publishers will have to show agility in training and deploying best-in-class regression and NLP algorithms using open source AI frameworks and Cloud platforms to establish moat against their competition in ad and content recommendation effectiveness.

How publishers can garner greater revenue with reduced costs

In the search for revenue, some publishers crowd their websites with all kinds of widgets, which leads to bad user experience and lesser search traffic, which further brings down the revenue.

And in such cases, Satya said the platform (M360) provides a good solution during the pandemic where publishers have to pay a small subscription fee instead of incurring in-house engineering or IT costs.

“Publishers on M360 just have to focus on writing engaging content for their users, and leave everything else to M360. Furthermore, publishers leverage its engaging ad formats — Banner, Rich Media, Native, Video to place ads directly sourced by them, giving them full control of their revenues. As a result, our publishers are seeing page CPM lift between 30-160% while their overall costs have dropped by 50-60%,” he said.

Asked how it is keeping all the data related to publishers confidential and safe, he said the Times Internet has an ecosystem where businesses have a strict mandate to adhere to data safety and privacy guidelines set by frameworks like GDPR and CCPA, which ensure that the latest standards of data privacy and user consent management are incorporated in its roadmap.

All of M360 services leverage its state-of-the-art recommendation engine that helps publishers in providing personalised ad and content experiences for the users, thereby increasing revenue and user engagement.


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