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Morden Chen

Skipping the text and the image stage, content marketing may leapfrog to videos in India, feels Morden Chen, General Manager at UC Ads, a division of Alibaba’s mobile business.

Aided by cheap data and affordable smart phones, the growth of videos has been exponential in India in the last three years. India already has 478 million mobile internet users.

Explaining the reason behind the potential video growth in India, Chen said, “Content marketing is comparatively new in the Indian market. With regards to platforms, it is mainly prosperous on YouTube, and not as buzzing on other platforms as it seems in other markets.”

Chen said that in other mature markets, content marketing has gone through various stages that included text and image, which led to a more developed content ecosystem that was still under evolution in India.

“We can take a look at another mature market like China where the internet environment is evolving at a rapid speed,” he said.

“When the first few individual media successfully monetised through original content, many individual media followed suit. It was a breakthrough in the content ecosystem, during which there was a surge in content creators, content marketing awareness, and third-party supporting platforms,” he added.

Chen said that it was still sometime before content marketing acquired more significant space in media plans.

“Similar breakthrough has not yet happened in the Indian market, so content marketing is not yet a significant plunge for either individual media or brand marketers, even though it’s much talked about,” Chen said.

Chen said at the pace at which internet penetration is growing in India along with better data, the overseas investment in video space is also likely to come soon.

“The internet environment here is getting ready for it. There is a possibility that content marketing might skip the text and image stage and jump straight to the video-domain content marketing stage, especially when overseas video investments start to penetrate the Indian user base,” he added.

Launched exactly a year ago, UC Ads complements the evolution of UC Browser into a content distribution platform with news feed content serving 100 million users. The platform provides intelligent content marketing solutions, leveraging UC influencer network and content lab. It enables marketers to brief the right content creators, generate branded buzz content from influencers and distribute the content via smart algorithm to the targeted audiences on the UC browsers app and UC news app.

The platform deals with both direct marketers and agencies giving services in a systematic way with a huge audience base. In the past one year, UC Ads has successfully rolled out content marketing initiatives for major smartphone brands, including Huawei, Honor, Vivo, Oppo and Mi.

Talking about the evolution of UC Browse into a content platform, Chen said, “Years ago, when feature phones dominated the market and operators charged a high price for mobile data, UC Browser won consumers’ heart for its fast browsing and data-saving functions. The consumer demand changed with emergence of smartphones and drop in mobile data price. The market witnessed an outbreak growth for quality content consumption. This is when UC Browser decided to transfer from a tool-plus product to a content platform, to further cater users’ demands.”

Bullish on its growth in India, Alibaba-owned Chinese mobile internet company UC Web is now banking on localisation strategy at the product level, on content, on language medium and for recruitment.

The UC Browser app is currently available in 15 languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Oriya, Urdu, Assamese, Bhojpuri and Manipuri.

Even as the UC news feed is available in five languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Kannada, the company is in the process of including more content in different vernacular languages on the platform.

“India is distinctive and vibrant with multiple languages and a colourful culture, which results in different user demands and consumption habits. Language diversity can be a challenge for product usage and content delivery,” Chen said.

“Embracing change is part of UC’s philosophy. UC’s plan and strategy evolves along with the market environment. However, one thing that will never change is our commitment for being user-orientation and localisation,” he added.