With 7mn monthly viewers, MailOnline has big plans for India

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With 7mn monthly viewers, MailOnline has big plans for India

September 28, 2016

MailOnline may be published from the United Kingdom given that it's the online version of the popular newspaper Daily Mail, but it's got a reasonable following across the world. In fact the consumption is higher in the United States than it's in the UK. In fact it even boasts of seven million unique viewers in India. That may be some 3 per cent of its total viewers, but in absolute terms it's large enough to attract revenue. JamesLeaver, General Manager, International, MailOnline is in India this week and spent some quality time with MxMIndia along with the team from Zirca, his sales partner in India. Excerpts from the interview.

When one was reading up about you it was mentioned that Mail Online has raided Microsoft to hire you to expand operations. How has it been going since you joined Mail Online last year.

It's been great, very different as you would imagine going from a big West Coast technology company to a traditional 120-year-old newspaper company, but it's been a great experience. Mail Online has a fantastic footprint. I think it's now about 230 million unique viewers around the world and that gives a huge amount of opportunity to do stuff. We've been doing a lot. We've got sales relationships going in about 15 countries now. So things are going in the right direction, been a busy year.

And in terms of footprint of your readers, it's essentially still the UK and the US comes next and Australia? Yeah, that's about right. Roughly speaking, very roughly it's about a third the UK, a third America and a third everything else.

Do you expect US to increase more than..??

We expect everywhere to increase.

More than the UK?

It is slightly more than the UK at the moment, so I think the US has definitely got room to grow.

But in terms of revenue for advertising because obviously it is free content right now for subscription for it, so in terms advertising revenues what is the breakup like?
The UK is a major revenue market. As you would imagine UK, the US, Australia and then the rest of the world is the developing bit.

So would you be able to give a percentage of what UK is?

Not off (the top of) of my head, not accurately.

It's significant majority?

It's a majority.

Your role at Mail Online has to look at expanding the footprint to other geographies and I know you had a tie-up with the People's Daily in China. Where else are you expanding, what is the focus?

Right now the focus is on managing the monetization. I'd say we've got a big audience that we have been under-monetising for a couple of years. So my focus in the short-term, by that I mean the year we just had and the year we are about to, my second year is really about trying to develop that revenue, that monetisation foundation. I don't know where it makes sense to expand at this point in time because I don't know what the revenue opportunity is in different countries. I have a sense that places like here or Canada or others would make sensible opportunities for us, but my first and primary goal right now is to see what we can do on the monetisation side before we start localising.

But the traditional rule of monetising is that you build audiences first and then monetise. So are you making attempts to grow the audience / consumers?

We do grow the audience. We have about seven million unique viewers in India and that's an audience that has grown over the last few years and it continues to grow.

Seven million when the total pie is 238 million is a very small number though in absolute terms, the number is very large.

Real numbers is large but the good thing is there is plenty to play for/ I see a huge opportunity over the next few years and we need to work out how we are going to address that working with Zirca on the revenue side and looking at what are other opportunities around them.

In terms of really building the audiences from building numbers, growing that from seven million upwards, you will obviously need to have some a fair amount of content from India because while there is readership for international content but they are also looking at Indian content. Is that on the anvil?

At this point in time, there is nothing in and nothing out. I mean it's very possible that we will do something in India and locally expand etc., but I don't know. I genuinely right now, as I sit here today I don't know whether I want to build a local operation or partner with someone or I should just try and grow through the content that we've already got. We produce globally, we produce 1600 stories a day. We're producing within that over 600 videos, about 19,000 pictures we are publishing. I believe that's enough content in most countries to actually build, if we really want to grow the local audience I think we've got enough content. I think yes we would need to think about local contents.

I was reading a quote from your publisher when the China deal happened and he said as the most populous nation on earth and one of the most dynamic economies, China is an increasing source of stories for outward-looking global publishers like MOL and China is the most populous country. Now India is the second-most populous country and the largest democracy.. hence the question.

As I said I don't rule anything in, I don't rule anything out, I am not having any conversations today or this week that, I am very focused right now I am meeting with agencies and advertisers and trying to see where I can take that business. I travel a lot, I will probably be back here on a regular basis and as the business grows I will start to look at what are the opportunities to then grow the audience. As I said to you at the beginning, the audience, as you said the audience it's a nice real number but percentage of the total population there is room to grow. From a revenue point of view, there is room to grow and actually the room to grow in the revenue side is greater than on the audience side right now, not greater, it's just - it's more medium.

Since you are meetings advertising this week, what is your proposition to them? So why should I advertise on dailymail.co.uk when you are essentially a British site with an international outlook?

Yes, we are, but I think we have got a good audience... well-paid itinerant international-looking, local Indians. And we have a very high engagement. We have a very strong organic audience across platform, and we are creatively open to doing some fun stuff, partnering whether it's native and native executions, which you know, sponsor comes in where we are really leading the way in some countries. So, I think that we have got a good proposition to advertisers.

And are you looking essentially the Indian audience in India or the Indian audience elsewhere in the world, because there are lot of Indians who consume content elsewhere and who are reasonably prosperous and who are being targeted by Indian companies, which have presence internationally, especially in the financial sector that has embraced the digital space very rapidly.

Right now, I am looking at the domestic Indian business, but I think there is an opportunity to explore the Indian diaspora at a later date.

Do you have some kind of targets for the business from India over the next year?

Every country I look at, I go into, I am asked this question, whether it'd be in Canada, where I was last week, or Europe; few weeks before that and I do interviews and people ask me, "What are your goals for the market" Right now, my goal is to operate more efficiently than we have been operating. I am not setting any hard goals. I want to get out there, I want to meet advertisers and agencies, talk to them about what the opportunities are, and then we will see where we go to, and sit down with the guys at Zirca in a few months' time and we will work out what's worked, what hasn't worked, how do we need to address the market, do we need to change the way we are addressing the market and what are some goals, but right now, my aim is to hit the ground and see what opportunities we have got.

Is it because you are at a level where any growth is great growth, or is it because you don't really know what the feel of the market is?

It's actually a bit of both. I think any growth is good, because this is a huge market with huge opportunity. You know, as you say we're 7 million unique viewers in India, what can we grow that to, can we grow that to you know - frankly, pick a number, right, and the same on the revenue side. There is growth potential across - on both fronts. So, I don't have a real feel right now for what success is, other than better than we are doing today.

Link to the story: http://www.bestmediainfo.com/2016/10/programmatic-advertising-and-its-role-in-media-industry/

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