My Past 3 Years In 3 Charts

My second stint as a Multimedia Mercinery @ Times Internet


This blog often puts a marketer & creative's experiences in the context of a broader industry arc. That's where material like 'The Absent-Minded Creative' & 'Blocking App Notifications' comes from.

The idea behind these is simple - in a world where the signal & noise sound the same, individual events often seem irrelevant in isolation.

In my last role as a strategic communications specialist at Times Internet, where we did a tonne of data-driven marketing communication, you'd often go down rabbit holes inside massive data dumps until a pattern emerges.

And that's (often) your story!

Boss: "We need a new mailer for B2B!"
“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. what we can't understand we call nonsense. What we can't read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables.” - Chuck Palahniuk

In data journalism, and data-led business communication, synthesis (usually) matters more than analysis. In this post, I'm going to try to do what I did (nearly) every week for 150+ weeks, but for a much longer period of time. Instead of events of the last week (i.e. Budget or Independence Day), or a month (i.e. ComScore stats), I'll synthesise data over the past three years.

This data (i.e. article views, number of articles, etc) and more is publicly available with free tools like UberSuggest & BuzzSumo. No proprietary GA data is used for any portion of this post.

Let’s dive in.

3 Youngsters. 3 Months. Half A Million Dollars

Back in mid-2018, during my stint at Paytm, I sauntered into the Times Internet Gurugram office - a place I had known from the Business Insider team's monthly review meetings with then CEO Puneet Singhvi.

The job brief was simple - Times Internet wanted to create a small team of Content, Marcom & Media Relations experts under Yashmeen (Barua) who could drive measurable business impact. It was a challenging role.

Until then, Times Internet’s portfolio brands had a primarily marketing-led brand-building approach. This is owing to the fact that the group’s portfolio companies often experience friction to garner earned media owing to the group's media roots.

Months later, I became the first member to join the team. Soon afterwards, we added a Media Relations expert (Yogesh) & a Media Strategy specialist (Mitali).

We made some good strides within the first quarter. Data is in terms of the number of articles

By mid-2019, this crack team of 20 somethings got thousands of media coverages within the first quarter, saving the group over half a million dollars (Rs. 3.8 Cr) in marketing expenses. We got this done with a mix of content marketing, unconventional PR tactics & influencer-led communication that drove higher brand amplification as compared to traditional PR.

Around this time, Vice Chairman Satyan Gajwani made some big announcements.

Getting the news out of India's #1 desi Digital Conglomerate

Chart #2: Total number of media coverage for Times Internet brands grew at a 41.64% CAGR

Times Internet is the desi internet giant nobody knew about earlier. Believe it or not, 8 out of every 10 online Indians uses a Times Internet product, and the ecosystem reaches a whopping 337 million users every month, making it bigger than Flipkart & Amazon in India!

Times Internet is the desi behemoth few know about!

Wading Off Trillion Dollar Golliahs

The aggressive push by Silicon Valley giants & Chinese conglomerates to win India, one of the world's last hyper-growth markets has killed many local brands. With every passing day, Amazon is closing in on Walmart-owned Flipkart’s lead in Indian e-commerce, Uber is fighting Ola hard in ride-hailing, and Google and Facebook already command the lion's share of India's online ad market.

Only a handful of companies have survived the onslaught, building businesses that are able to sustain heat from some of these trillion-dollar behemoths. One of them is Times Internet.

Business battles are fought in both boardrooms, and in the media. Every player is in the rush for both the public's moolah & media attention.

As a relatively media-shy organisation with little to no offline advertising, the four-member strategic communications team was at forefront of the group's race against its Silicon Valley rivals to grab more eyeballs.

Is the battle won? Nope.

Each of these conglomerates has big bucks, solid leadership and command a sizeable portion of multiple markets. They are way too big for buyouts, and there's way too much cash on the table for a retreat.

Each group is going all in. Reminds me of The Charge of the Light Brigade by Lord Alfred Tennyson...

"Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do & die."

But as a multimedia mercenary, a gun for hire jumping ships every couple of years, you often stop & ponder 'have we started the fire?' Well yeah, the fire rises.

Saikat out.


Random Reminiscences:

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