Our Objective Is To Provide Digital Publishers With A Platform: Arjun Satya, M360
In an interview with BW Disrupt, Arjun Satya, is the Co-founder for M360, talk about business model, competition, funding status and more
1. Brief us about your business model - how did the idea come to start and how does it work?
As digital publishing is becoming increasingly complex, the modern publisher has to worry about story-telling through engaging media, keeping up with platform technological enhancements, understanding online user behaviours, effectively monetizing digital properties through ads and subscriptions among other things. These issues a publisher faces are endless, all while trying to churn out quality content daily to engage the readers.
Only large conglomerates like Times Internet have resources to keep up with technological advancements and build different business models to run a profitable digital publishing business. To support the global digital publishing community, we wanted to provide all these tools under the umbrella of one platform and one login. And that led to the inception of M360.
We have digital publication owners who are looking to get their publishing business to the next level by reaching out to us. After sharing requisite details, we migrate their websites onto our staging environment. We made some final edits as per the publishers' suggestions and then switched the website hosting to our servers to go live. Post that, publishers used our M360 platform for their entire business operations via our CMS, AdServer, Push Notifications, Newsletters and much more.
The entire migration is free and takes 2-3 days for a typical site. The publisher only pays a small subscription fee for all of the operations, technology and support.
2. What are the unique key points of your company?
M360 is a turnkey SaaS platform which solves the issues any publisher faces. It helps the publisher develop engaging content through its CMS, grow traffic, and drive personalized ad campaigns thereby increasing effective CPM - with the increase in ad revenue along with reduced engineering and IT costs.
The USP of the platform is that it’s an all-encompassing suite taking care of all digital publishing needs while also helping the publisher grow exponentially in revenue, traffic and engagement.
3. How are you different from the existing competitors?
Our unique proposition lies in the all-encompassing single-login platform, where technologically and operationally the publisher can simply leave all the heavy lifting to us and freely focus on content creation. Additionally, with our host of offerings and integrations, we ensure a revenue stream boost which no other platform can.
Publishers on M360 just have to focus on writing engaging content for their users, and everything else is taken care of by the platform. Furthermore, they leverage M360's engaging ad formats - Banner, Rich Media, Native, Video - to place ads directly sourced by them, making them self-reliant rather than depending on 3rd party networks for revenue, unlike other platforms.
4.What is the funding status and monetization model?
We are incubated by Times Internet and have enough resources for our growth plans for FY21. M360 is a young business so we will see a lot of things shaping up in future in terms of product offerings.
The monetising model is that publishers only have to pay a small subscription fee instead of incurring in-house engineering or IT costs. while we take a revenue share from ads sourced by us. We also have a lot of value-added services that publishers are using to get a competitive advantage over their peer publishers.
5. What challenges are you facing in running your business?
From an industry perspective, the pandemic has led to dwindling advertising spends by advertisers and agencies. Things are even worse on the supply side, where digital publishers relying heavily on 3rd party ad networks have seen reduced fill rate and page CPMs. This has led to lesser revenue while they still have to incur engineering, product, IT, and hosting costs.
Our objective is to provide digital publishers with a platform that only large companies have resources to build continuously. Every digital publisher onboarded on M360 has equal opportunity to sustain, grow, and compete in their domains and have fared well even during these unprecedented times.
6. How has been the people's response so far?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The results after migrating to our platform have fortified the faith of publishers, coupled with our empirical knowledge of optimizing and scaling while continuing to innovate. We at M360 are still on Day 0. There is a lot more to follow.
7. What are the traction details (like users, app downloads & other achievements of the company)?
M360 publishers serve 25 million monthly active users which makes us one of the largest in the Indian publishing suite space.
In addition to that, we are proud to share, when publishers shift to M360 we have seen 100% Lift in Page eRPM, 56% Decrease in Avg. Operating Costs, and an overall 68% Decrease in Avg. Page Load Time. Achievements which bring us the utmost satisfaction is helping our publishers grow their revenues exponentially, many publishers have doubled their revenue in a matter of a month of migration.
8. How do you look at expansion?
M360 will evolve into the go-to platform for any digital publisher globally irrespective of its language, size, or geography. While India is our primary geography now, we have started some pilots with publishers in the SEA region and slowly started our deployments for a few North American clients as well. Our growth plans are a combination of direct sales and strategic partnerships with key players in the ecosystem.
9. What are your marketing plans?
As we have a robust product we are not heavily dependent on the big-budget marketing push. Our go-to strategy is drip-marketing and we are growing organically. Certain marketing channels such as in-bound e-mailers and newsletter are performing very well for us, with open rate being as high as 50% which is unprecedented for B2B standards. As we grow we are planning to invest and create video assets for our publishers which function like tutorials and guidelines to equip them in every manner on how to seamlessly navigate the platform.
10. What has been the biggest learnings so far?
Our biggest learning is understanding the major pain-points of a publisher and tailor our pitch accordingly. While our platform has clear value propositions through which publishers can benefit, there are apprehensions about their daily tasks on the platform as we are still very new in the market. We hope to allay those doubts through a lot of literacy about the tools and the entire publisher ecosystem.
11. What is the market size and opportunity?
Global market size is slated to be a few billion dollars if you consider just the news publishing industry. We also have some job portals as well live on our platform but our long term vision is to support global digital businesses in different sectors.
The global media industry is going through a crisis for quite some time. The duopoly of platforms in ad revenue, general discontent around using user information for personalized ads, dwindling dollar-share of the ad spend by advertisers due to middle players in the programmatic ads space and more recently, top journalists leaving and starting their mini-media empire. We see this crisis as an opportunity for a horizontal player that gives all the cutting-edge tools and services to make a news publishing business grow without having them invest heavily on the technology. Our aim is to build an ecosystem of entrepreneurial publishers and leveraging the network effect of all services leading to higher user engagement and revenue.
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