21 April 2021 13:43

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- Apr 19, 2021
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How is online education changing the world of learning in India?

The pandemic has been a watershed moment for the Indian EdTech sector. According to ‘Decoding The $10 Bn Market Opportunity Report 2020’, the EdTech market is expected to grow 3.7 times from $2.8 billion in FY 2020 to a whopping amount of $10.4billion in FY 2025. The target audience is also estimated to reach 37 million users by 2025. Riding on the increased adoption of technology by the education sector the EdTech startups are developing innovative new-age tools to provide an unmatched learning experience to aspirants. Although classroom or face-to-face teaching will continue to be essential for learning, the blended form of learning will dominate the scene in the future. The pandemic has also generated demand for skilled professionals who have in-depth knowledge of the latest technologies like AI, Machine Learning, Robotics and Cybersecurity, which will further accelerate the growth of the EdTech segment. Moreover, with access to the internet and smartphones, consumers have also become more aware of the offerings, and their desire to learn beyond the syllabus will drive innovations in the education field.

Practically’s unique offering coupled with cutting edge technologies have helped the brand to carve a niche for itself in the cluttered EdTech market within a short span of its launch.

You recently launched your first brand campaign. How has been the response?

Practically is India’s first experiential learning app which is designed to make learning immersive and increase retention in STEM learning among students of class 6 to 12. The brand launched its first-ever brand campaign around the theme - ‘Bring Learning Alive’ – in December 2020. The campaign has garnered 3x growth and the app has crossed 330,000 downloads to date. The television commercials (TVCs) have garnered over 32 million+ views combined on YouTube and seen above average and consistent view rates, even after two months of launch, indicating relevance and popularity of the campaign amongst the target audience. This has been one of the highest by an EdTech company in India, without celebrity endorsement, so far.

What has been the marketing focus of your brand from its inception till date?

The focus of our marketing efforts so far has been to drive awareness and consideration in the home markets of AP and Telangana and test markets at a pan-India level to gauge the brand’s traction and determine brand and business expansion. We began our integrated marketing efforts only in end-2020. Before that, it was more social media and event-led. As a young one-year-old brand, in a competitive space with incumbents with deep pockets, we have seen one of the best ROI and growth in the EdTech sector in India thus far, especially without a celebrity push.

We launched our first brand campaign ‘Bringing Learning Alive’ in December 2020 and it has been very successful. It was  a 360-degree integrated marketing approach with ATL, Digital, Social, Print and PR which helped  create the desired impact on our target audience.

In November 2020, we ran  a Diwali campaign. It was a unique in-app quiz created on the theme of Diwali with prizes to the tune of INR 1Cr for winners. The campaign was promoted across Print, Digital, BTL and Social media.

We also sponsored  the Times of India for their South Zone Quiz competition, which took place from December ’20 – January ’21. The school quiz targeted the top 300 schools and 30,000 students across Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore with an in-app qualifier round and special Practically quiz round in the final. The quiz was hosted by ace quizmaster - Gautam Bose.

Can you take us through the brand journey?

  • 2018 - Practically was founded with a team of more than 150+ working on creating world-class 3D VFX content and AR/simulations videos
  • 2019 – We raised Series A $5M from Exfinity Ventures et al.
  • 2020 Jan – We launched beta for 18k students
  • 2020 April - Main launch of product in AP/TS, so far serviced more than 330k students
  • 2020 June – We entered Middle East market and signed up GEMS Dubai as our flagship customer
  • 2020 Nov - Active selling monetisation from AP/TS region
  • Dec 2020 - Launched our first brand campaign around the theme - ‘Bring Learning Alive’. Besides ticking off all KPIs that we had set out to achieve, this campaign has given us the right inspiration to go further. Besides downloads achieved, all our social media and in-app metrics have also been impacted positively and this has set the ball rolling for more engagement in the future.
  • Jan 2021 – We raised pre-series B $4M growth capital for further penetration into AP/TS market and launch in other geos in India
  • Feb 2021 - Recently, Practically was awarded the EdTech Startup of the Year at Startup Awards 2021 by Franchise India & Entrepreneur India magazine. Practically was also adjudged the Most Innovative STEM Solution by Elets Digital Learning magazine at the World Education Summit 2021

Education learning apps are steadily gaining acceptance among Indian parents and students. Who is the actual influencer in the purchase of the app – the student or the parent?

When it comes to grad and post grad students the customer and consumer are mostly the same which is unlikely in the K-12 segment.  Here the consumer is the student while the parent is the customer. In India parents are heavily invested in the education of their wards and that insight is seen in EdTech too, since they make the final decision. What appeals more for kids are innovative app features, ease of usage and the entire fun experience of learning. For parents, in addition to the above, personalized features, access to teachers, easy on the wallet pricing, app reviews and ratings also matter. However in both cases, peers and schools play an important role of influencing the buying decision. As Practically School Solution is also very popular among schools, many parents get introduced to the product through the school. Because of this unique consumer-customer TG behaviour observed in EdTech, many brands use brand ambassadors/influencers in a bid to appeal to both these groups.

What is Practically’s approach to branded content, and how do you measure the ROI of the content you create?

The content created has to communicate the intended message to the target group (TG) in a clear and creative manner, as simply as possible. Besides uniqueness of the idea, creativeness in execution is what makes campaigns memorable.

An effective measure for branded content is fulfilment. If the purpose for which it was created is achieved, then it’s good ROI. So whenever an activity is planned, there are performance measures and KPIs set. Achievement of those indicate a good or a bad ROI.

In our recent campaign all the content that was created centered around the singular brand proposition of ‘Bring Learning Alive’ to drive singularity and seamlessness.  These were strategically executed across different mediums that would best deliver the intended message to our TG. With the objective of driving awareness and achieving desired KPIs.  The results elaborated earlier were definitely an encouraging ROI for us.

Most of the growth for learning apps is from tier 2 & 3 markets. What is your marketing strategy to address these markets?

The difference between marketing to Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 audiences is narrowing, as aspirations are increasing across Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Access to education is of paramount importance as all parents, irrespective of geography, want their children to have a successful life. Marketing is always audience-led and the strategy has to involve a mix of the best mediums through which one can reach relevant audiences. Considering the emphasis that Indians place on education, keeping respective market nuances aside, the core target audience for Practically, are parents of kids aged 11 to 17 and the kids themselves. To reach out to them in the COVID era, the most impactful mediums of marketing have been TV and Digital. In the pre-Covid era, BTL activations in such markets would act as crucial support to the main campaign. Radio & Print (regional) can also be looked at to effectively drive awareness among these audiences and build credibility. The key is to understand the touchpoints of your product, study customer journey and effectively strategize marketing for this segment. The correct choice of medium matters the most.

Being just a year-old brand, our current focus is predominantly metros and Tier 1 cities. As we are going to expand our footprint across pan India this year, we will be devising marketing strategies to penetrate  these markets too.

What has been the media mix for this particular campaign and key takeaways?

As stated previously, this was an integrated marketing campaign with the impact property being a two-week Associate Sponsorship deal with Bigg Boss Telegu Season 4. Aligning the marketing strategies around the brand proposition of “Bring Learning Alive”, the ATL campaign was released in the priority markets of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The digital campaign ran in the top 40 cities across the country with a greater emphasis on Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.

The rationale behind this dual-pronged strategy was to drive awareness and consideration in the home market and test markets at a pan-India level to gauge the brand’s traction. Hence, the focus of ATL was majorly to establish the brand and drive awareness, while digital was aimed at building awareness and performance.

Predominantly, the metros and Tier-1 cities attracted larger traction. The campaign saw healthy participation among parents in the age group of 35 to 55 years and students in the age group of 11 to 17. Interest was also evinced among people of the age group of 18 to 24 years who visited the website for programs related to Coding++, Test Preparation, etc. Practically also featured amongst the top brands in pure search volumes among EdTech players in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during the campaign, clearly emerging as a strong challenger brand for the incumbents and indicating resonance with the target audience.

Kids are the future of this world, and any initiative that gets them a head start is great. Your views on this?

The progress of any society depends on the education of its population. And what we learn as kids forms the foundation of all the basic concepts, that we eventually build on and apply in our careers. Hence it’s imperative that fundamental concepts are clear right from the start and every child continues to remain curious as they are building their knowledge universe as curiosity enhances learning.

Students usually find STEM subjects dry, rote and boring and educators have few means to increase students’ engagement and rate of retention. Students have access to learning resources which are not interactive and lead to less than 30% rate of retention when learning foundational concepts. This disengagement leads to lack of interest in key subjects and in extreme cases, dropping out of the education system. As per the MHRD report on Educational Statistics at a Glance, 2018, the all-India average dropout rate of primary students is 4.13% while it is 4.03% in upper primary and an alarming 17.06% in the secondary levels.

Practically is built on Edgar Dale’s ‘Cone of Learning’; we retain 10% of what we read, 50% of what we see and hear and increasingly more to 90% when we learn by doing. The more dramatic the experience, the more lasting the recall. Most concepts in STEM which are dry on the surface can be taught in a very fun and interactive way with experiential learning. And this we feel gives kids a fun and an innovative learning experience, enabling a head start over traditional methods.

 The Covid-19 pandemic has created robust opportunities for EdTech platforms to develop innovative content and engage students online. Our dedicated school offering - The Practically School Solution, which is absolutely FREE of cost to schools, has been a mega-hit with teachers. Given the challenges posed by the pandemic, this solution serves as a perfect need-of-the-hour for schools wanting to enable quality online learning for their students.

The adoption of the NEP 2020 has also accelerated the demand for skill-based programs like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, IoT, Gaming etc. to meet the global industry standards.  All of this seem to augur well for education in future.

One thing that you do every day that recharges and motivates you?

When not thinking brands, I am usually busy planning my next backpacking trip. On a regular basis, listening to music or singing, sports, a long walk or just reading my morning paper over filter coffee keeps me charged. It’s all about finding that one activity which helps you ground yourself and brings the day alive!

 

Total Streaming viewers reach 23.8 million viewers in March 2021, up 208% Year over Year

Total subscribers to Company's SVOD services surpass 640,000, up 574% Year over Year

Cinedigm,a global media company that creates enthusiast streaming channels,announced record-breaking milestones for its subscription and ad-supported channel businesses.

In March 2021, Cinedigm's total streaming viewer footprint reached approximately 23.8 million monthly active ad-supported viewers across Cinedigm's digital networks distributed via linear Free Ad-supported TV (FAST) and Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD), up more than 208% year-over-year.

Additionally, the Company reported that total subscribers to the Company's portfolio of subscription streaming services surpassed 640,000, up 574% year-over-year.

Additional Key Milestones and Facts*:

Approximately 423 million minutes were streamed in March 2021, a new Company record, and up 305% year-over-year.

Advertising requests increased 431% year-over-year.

Approximately 96% of all streaming occurred in connected TV ("CTV") environments. CTV is the most valuable ad inventory and in greater demand from advertisers when compared to desktop or mobile inventory.

16 streaming channels currently live, versus 5 live in March 2020, a 220% increase.

*All figures based on preliminary March 2021 performance data.

** YoY comparisons are between March 2020 and March 2021

"A year ago, we announced an aggressive strategy to rapidly expand our footprint of FAST linear streaming and AVOD channels, and to also rapidly expand our SVOD channel subscriber growth through M&A, distribution expansion, and partnerships," said Erick Opeka, Chief Strategy Officer and President of Digital Networks for Cinedigm. "Today, we are pleased to show that, in a turbulent world for entertainment, the relentless focus of our incredible team is paying off in record growth in subscribers, free viewers, engagement, and ultimately, revenue. Our success is not going unnoticed, with new major brands and media companies approaching us regularly to assist them in developing streaming strategies that most effectively monetize their properties and attract new audiences, we continue to move upmarket with larger worldwide brand and channel opportunities. We remain steadfast in our growth plans through our M&A rollup strategy where we have added 4 new OTT channels, more than 15,000 films and TV episodes and a leading streaming technology company with a strong base in the fast-growing South Asian market in just the last 5 months."

Updates on Recent and Upcoming Key Streaming Initiatives:

Given Cinedigm's robust footprint of current and recently acquired services, the Company is actively focused on integrating the five acquisitions made since October 2020, as well as building and launching a variety of critical, recently announced products:

Fantawild Channel - Last year, the Company announced a deal to build and operate a children's' streaming service with Fantawild, one of the largest theme park operators in the world and the largest producer of Children's animation in China. Cinedigm has completed the build-out of the channel and is currently testing the service with several strategic launch partners. Channel launch will occur shortly after satisfactory completion of this testing, which we anticipate will be completed in April.

Fandor Relaunch - Cinedigm acquired the assets of Fandor, a leading streaming service for film lovers, in late January 2021. The Company is actively integrating these assets and preparing for the beta relaunch of the service, which we expect to occur in late calendar Q2/early calendar Q3 2021. The Company is focused on migrating the service technology and expanding the content offering, distribution and partnerships in tandem with this relaunch. The service remains active and available to subscribers on a variety of platforms including Amazon Prime Channels, Roku, and more in the interim.

The Film Detective Integration - Cinedigm acquired the assets of The Film Detective ("TFD"), a leading streaming company and classic film library archive, in December 2020. The Company has been actively integrating the assets into Cinedigm since the acquisition closed and continues to expand the monetization of those assets through Cinedigm's distribution capabilities. TFD Founder and CEO Phil Hopkins is now President of both TFD and Fandor, and will leverage the extensive TFD library in Fandor's relaunch.

Screambox Relaunch - Cinedigm acquired the assets of Screambox, a leading streaming service for horror fans, in February 2021. The Company is actively integrating these assets and preparing for the beta relaunch of the service, which we expect to occur in calendar Q3 2021. The Company is focused on migrating the service technology and expanding the content offering, distribution and partnerships in tandem with this relaunch. In the meantime, the service remains active and available to subscribers during the migration on all platforms.

NFT Initiatives - For over 20 years, Cinedigm has been at the forefront of driving major technological changes in the entertainment industry. The Company transformed the theatrical business by converting more than one third of US cinema screens from 35mm film to digital projection. Over a decade ago, the Company became the largest aggregator of digital content rights by helping more than 800 producers generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through digital distribution to Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and more. Most recently, the Company has enabled partners like All3Media, American Public Media, The Bob Ross estate, and others develop commercial streaming channels. Our foray into NFT is a logical step for us, and a continuation of our successful efforts to commercialize emerging technology in the entertainment sector.

In March 2021, the Company announced that it was in active development of commercial NFT products. Our focus is to build a suite of products that will enhance the monetization of our and our partner's existing assets, and ultimately provide enhanced value to our overall streaming channel businesses. We plan to leverage's Cinedigm's extensive film and television content library, digital comics rights, deep distribution relationships with hundreds of producers, and our world class engineering capabilities to rapidly bring products to the market. The Company has four potential NFT products in development: a new, NFT-based film releasing label, an NFT-based consumer loyalty product for our streaming services, an NFT automation and distribution platform, and a marketplace product for video-based NFT collectibles. We are in the final phase of product development on several of these initiatives and expect to announce at least one product in April 2021.

FoundationTV Acquisition - The Company is currently in final diligence on this transaction. Barring any unforeseen issues arising from diligence, we expect this transaction to close within the next 30 days.

"I am proud of the efforts of Cinedigm's team to not only execute on five M&A transactions a matter of months, but also conduct major channel and product launches and planning amidst an already aggressive growth trajectory," said Opeka. "This reflects the extensive competitive advantage that Cinedigm holds in executing a highly complex and technical roll-up strategy."

 

SOURCE: Cinedigm Corp

McDonald’s India (West and South) has roped in the popular film celebrity - Rashmika Mandanna, as its brand ambassador for its key advertising campaigns. Rashmika is a household name and a popular face among millennials, especially in the Southern states of the country.

She has enthralled audiences through Telugu and Kannada films that include hits like Chalo, Kirik Party, Sarileru Neekevvaru, Geetha Govindam and Dear Comrade which have garnered over 200 Million views on YouTube.

Rashmika will soon be seen in magnum opus project Pushpa with Allu Arjun and is also set to foray into Bollywood with two back-to-back Hindi films. In a short time, she has become a youth icon and has a strong following on social media with over 15 million followers on Instagram alone.

This association marks a significant step for McDonald’s as it looks to reinforce its brand leadership in its key markets. McDonald’s restaurants in West and South India are operated by Westlife Development Ltd. (WDL), through its wholly owned subsidiary.

Speaking on the announcement of this collaboration, Arvind RP, Director - Marketing and Communications, McDonald’s India (West and South) said, “We are delighted to have Rashmika onboard. She is someone who connects strongly with millennials and is a popular youth icon.”

Rashmika, popularly known as the 'National Crush’ has expressed her love for food through her social media handles, on several occasions. Rashmika will be a part of key brand campaigns and will play a pivotal role in enhancing brand love for McDonald’s across key markets.

On being the brand’s ambassador, actress Rashmika Mandanna, said “McDonald’s has been one of my favourite brands since I was a kid. I’d literally live on McDonald’s when I was in college. When they reached out to me for this association, I was absolutely thrilled! I am delighted to represent a brand that is passionate about serving yummy food with great quality to its consumers. McDonald’s has been serving Indian consumers for 25 years and counting now and is definitely a preferred choice across all age groups. I am really excited about my partnership with such an amazing and trusted brand.”

In keeping with the saying “Baro Mashe, Tero Parbon” (Thirteen festivals in twelve months), Bengal is undoubtedly known for its endless love for festivals and their festivities. Poila Boishakh, being the first day of the new year, is celebrated by Bengalis all over as it marks a fresh start, a dawn of new hope and aspirations.

Zee Bangla has long been a custodian of the intricacies of Bengal’s heritage whether it is celebrating the many festivals and their traditions or reviving Bengal's art forms as they get passed down to the next generation. The brand believes in celebrating each festival with great enthusiasm while keeping alive the traditions handed down over Bengal's illustrious history, keeping alive the brand's promise - ‘Notun Chonde Likhbo Jibon’.

Although this Noboborsho was different from other years due to the lockdown’s effect on the Bangla New Year spirit, Zee Bangla hosted a virtual ‘Probhat Pheri’ celebration for all its viewers.

Zee Bangla, a connoisseur of the cultural elements, has always pioneered Bengal’s indigenous ingredients and tried to revive the intricacies of Bengal’s heritage so that they are passed down to the younger generations.

This Poila Boishakh, the channel took the initiative to celebrate the Bangla New Year with an aesthetically curated and vibrantly appealing 'Probhat Pheri' Live Streamed on Zee Bangla’s official Facebook page on Thursday, 15th of April, from the large and prestigious EMC campus in Kolkata.

Welcoming the year 1428 with great enthusiasm, Zee Bangla celebrated a delightful concoction of its distinguished culture and traditions with Bengal's favourite art forms. Bengal’s tradition and culture are imbibed in its art forms, its music, and its dance, and what better way to welcome another year with a Probhat pheri showcasing these.

The celebration began at six in the morning with mongal sankha dhwani, followed by a cultural performance including a Rhythm orchestration with dhaak, khol, bangla dhol, an on-stage representation of a famous dance drama, and a recitation-based dance performance. Not only this, but the viewers also witnessed some popular art forms such as Santhal Nach, Chau Nach, Ronpa Nach, Uday Shankar’s fusion style and Robindra Nritya.

Bengal’s diversity is not only in the art forms but in the attire. For the Probhat Pheri, the women dressed themselves in the traditional laal-parh shada saree and showered flower petals while holding up ‘Kulos’ as they walked along. The men on the other hand were seen wearing dhuti-punjabi and Bengal’s traditional big and colourful masks.

Lead actor Sunil Grover calls the show mysterious yet full of new perspectives 

ZEE5 Global has recently announced its new Original series Sunflower. Produced by Reliance Entertainment and Good Co., the series is written by Vikas Bahl and co-directed by Rahul Sengupta and Vikas Bahl. Sunflower is the story of a middle-class housing society in Mumbai with quirky characters. From thrill, comedy and drama centred around the characters with their relatable stories, everything revolving around the housing society promises to take you on a roller-coaster ride. The makers now release its first ever teaser.

The teaser creates the right amount of intrigue leaving the audience waiting for more.

Lead actor Sunil Grover shares, “It was a conscious decision on the part of the makers to make a teaser which will not reveal much about the show, but will create the right amount of intrigue. Of course, Sunflower is full of mystery and we want to communicate that to the audience and you’ll know the mystery when you watch the show. The trailer will set the premise for it very soon. I am grateful and excited to be a part of such a fresh genre and script created by Mr. Vikas Bahl. I don’t think something like this genre has been attempted before. So, I am excited and this one will surely blow your minds.”

Apart from Sunil Grover, the show includes a star-studded line-up i.e. the residents of the Sunflower society: Mukul Chadda as Mr. Ahuja, Radha Bhatt as his wife Mrs. Ahuja, Ashish Vidyarthi as Dilip Iyer, Sonal Jha playing his wife, Ranvir Shorey as inspector Digendra, Girish Kulkarni as Tambe, Ashiwn Kaushal as Raj Kapoor, Shonali Nagrani as Mrs. Raj Kapoor and Saloni Khanna, amongst others.

Sunflower is coming soon on ZEE5.

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