Television shows have become old, with most of the younger generation in India preferring digital series and films. It’s not only because of foreign players like Amazon Prime and Netflix, or even Indian streaming services like Hotstar and Alt Balaji, all of whom have their efforts funded by mega-corporations. In reality, digital content creators such as Pocket Aces, The Viral Fever (TVF), ScoopWhoop, Gaurav Kapur’s Oaktree Sports and many other ‘indie’ channels have built the trend for web series or digital video.
Much of India’s online content initially relied on YouTube for exposure as well as monetisation through advertisements, but as content has grown and as developers realise the lack of revenue growth through YouTube, independent streaming platforms have done extremely well on a much smaller scale than YouTube. The share of digital ads has also grown with the rise in content consumption patterns.
One of the early players in this space is Pocket Aces adapted well to the trend and went on to run successful digital properties such as Filtercopy, Dice Media & Gobble.
Three 33-year-olds – Ashwin Suresh, Anirudh Pandita and Aditi Shrivastava – founded Pocket Aces, backed by the likes of Sequoia Capital and the co-founders of Infosys. The trio, which had lucrative banking careers and graduated from the US, began Pocket Aces to enter the film industry.
Via Dice, its digital video division, and FilterCopy, a mixed-media offering, the company leverages technology to produce engaging content for the Indian millennial.
Instead, the team decided to pivot to concentrate totally on new media. They agreed to take a bet on Facebook videos, which paid off, Ashwin says. Pocket Aces now has Dice, which releases fiction material on different social networks regularly. There was one of their famous shows – What the Folks. The team launched Gobble, a food network, recently as well. Their other tool is FilterCopy, the proprietary publishing platform of Pocket Aces that publishes papers on globally trending issues.
These are video hackers/teammates who know all aspects of video making, from ideation and photography to post-production. They also generate two-minute regular videos.
On the back of heavy social sharing and high retention rates, the company’s brands – FilterCopy, Dice Internet, and Gobble – have clocked over one billion organic video views. For its backend, Pocket Aces does not use any existing platforms, and develops stuff entirely from scratch, using common technologies and frameworks for web and mobile creation.
India has a huge and increasing millennial population, with raising earnings potential and disposable income for young, tech-savvy consumers. Historically, this group has been an early adopter of emerging technologies and new forms of media consumption and will continue to be. The nation is a market ripe for digital media investments, with the demographics stacked in India’s favour for digital consumption.
According to a study by Ernst and Young, the number of digital video viewers was 110 million as of 2015. The segment of digital media is poised for disruption and is projected to cross Rs 200 billion by 2020. The report adds that it is anticipated that digital ad spending will rise by 23 to 28 percent.
The team found that if all the young people were not watching TV, it was because conventional content producers and television houses had not generated content that attracted millennial viewers over the past few years.
Interestingly, they received 7.5 million views for the team’s first video. The video, called Ban Ban, demonstrated the acting abilities of Anirudh and Ashwin.
Three months later, however, the team regularly struggled to produce the correct kind of material. The first 20 videos were unsuccessful.
Pocket Aces soon started using knowledge, however, and the team realised it was crucial to be scalable to replicate their success. They also noticed that there was a distinction between content that was shareable and watchable. Strategically, the team wanted to concentrate on short-form videos with FilterCopy. This has taken into account the propensity of customers to consume various types of content in spurts during the day.
It is a challenge to produce quality content on a wide scale. The team tests campaign and advertiser analytics using their technology that is designed for scale, along with using data analysis to develop and create better content.
They would do one video in two weeks when Pocket Aces started; today they claim to put out three videos a week.
Four, full time, and 100 freelancers are now part of the written content team. 10 people at FilterCopy and four people at Dice Media are included in the video content team. There are 16 resources which are shared.
PocketAces has separate outlets when it comes to sales. Branded or native ads, which is both direct and agency sales, is one of the best. Through licencing and syndicating their material to other OTT outlets and television networks, the team also receives fees. They gain ad-sharing money, and they also experiment with new content-based models such as sales of merchandise and revenue from affiliates.