Developing podcast as separate vertical, using TikTok for distribution and vernacular languages to be Indiatimes Lifestyle Network's growth strategy in 2020

In an interaction with, Angad Bhatia, Chief Operating Officer of Indiatimes Lifestyle Network talks about their plans to launch content in different Indian languages using TikTok as a platform to distribute content and revamping of the platform app. Bhatia says authentic, concentrated and product-centric content marketing is set to grow in 2020

Akanksha Nagar
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The slowdown in India's digital media landscape did not hurt the Indiatimes Lifestyle Network in 2019 as the platform has been able to deliver robust numbers both in terms of revenue and reach.

There was a significant increase in the branded content business of the network that runs sites such as MensXP, iDiva and Indiatimes as the reach of all platforms on social media saw a substantial rise.

Angad Bhatia

“Our reach on Facebook increased by about 25%. Our growth on Instagram and YouTube grew by almost three times. Our existing media business is going to maintain similar momentum and growth as last year,” Angad Bhatia, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Indiatimes Lifestyle Network, said in an interaction with

Talking about how brands can reap benefit from content marketing, Bhatia said, "As marketers are accepting the importance of content marketing, a deeper engagement between brands and platforms is going to be the way forward."

The platform is exploring newer names such as TikTok and Helo for content distribution while working on a focussed strategy for building the brand authority on these platforms.

“In 2020, authentic, concentrated and product-centric content marketing is set to grow and gain relevance even as the distribution tactics and tool marketers use to distribute content will continue to evolve. While one-off content pieces help brands with an immediate consideration, a long-term content plan for an always-on strategy is imperative for building brand chatter on social media,” he said.

The platform has shifted focus to a more robust app strategy and will be having a newer version in the next two months.

"We are also exploring podcasts as a new content vertical. A new-look ILN blog and more direct communications with the users in the form of newsletters and mailers are also in the works," Bhatia said.

In 2019, the platform had forayed into e-commerce with MensXP Shop and private label brand MensXP Mud.

It ventured into Hindi language content with the launch of MensXP Hindi, iDiva Hindi and Indiatimes Hindi.

“All ILN brands have launched their respective Hindi verticals and are seeing a steady growth rate. We intend to add more Indic languages to the portfolio in the coming years,” he added.

ILN also started up with influencer/talent management agency Hypp last year.

Commenting on the rise of the influencers, he said, “Last two years saw massive growth in influencer marketing. In the initial phase of such an exponential phenomenon, the primary focus is not optimisation but rather just running with it to see how much it can grow. This gestation period is a steep learning curve for every stakeholder. Now that the importance of the category is well-established, a larger emphasis will be given to ethical, measurable and responsible practices going forward.”

Talking about the increase in the number of new content publishers and intensifying competition, Bhatia said, “Creating content for our community has been the bedrock of all our strategies and we will continue to do so. Our short-form content has been one of the most talked-about in the country in the past couple of years and will always be a strong vertical. With our new commerce ambition, we will have a more dedicated approach towards content around commerce; in the past years they have worked successfully for us.”

The platform may be mostly built on short-form content, but Bhatia believes long-form content will continue to be governed by big players.

He said, “Both the formats are dependent on consumption habits and serve different purposes. Short-form content forms the long tail of content that generates more incidental viewership, while the long-form is the rest that is consumed both on OTT platforms and content creator platforms like ours. These will continue to be relevant for their respective audience. Short-form content has always been and will continue to serve as a stepping stone for independent content creators to enter the category and has a huge market.”

As new creators will continue to bring in newer formats that will result in more options for audiences, Bhatia said brands should carefully assess and evaluate the affinity of these formats with their business objectives before association.

According to him, personalised, data-driven, conversational and search-intent driven content is set to gain ground in 2020. On the other hand, video content will continue to be the go-to when it comes to creating brand awareness and driving consumer engagement.

TikTok Angad Bhatia Indiatimes Lifestyle Network's