Localisation in Indian Digital Media Market

04 Nov,2019



By Indrani Sen


Earlier this year, I was delighted to read the news that Chanpreet Arora had stepped down from the position of CEO of Vice Media to join as a Journalist Fellow in Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism under University of Oxford. In India, only a selective set of people from industry interact with academic institutes and very few academicians act as consultants to the industry. Against that backdrop, Arora’s move was courageous and inspiring to others. Recently, I read on the internet her Fellowship Paper “The Evolving Indian Media Market: Succeeding through Localisation” and was impressed by her analysis. (https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/our-research/evolving-indian-media-market-succeeding-through-localisation)


When we discuss about localisation of media, our top-of-mind recall is regional publications, followed by regional TV channels and FM radio stations. Arora has presented an excellent analysis of the various factors guiding and governing localisation of doing business in Indian digital media market. Her article deals with macro economics, key global trends, digital explosion in India and models adopted by international companies in India under the section “Why India”.


Next is a section on “Doing Business in India” covering from localisation of content and delivery to regulatory framework.  Arora argues: “India is one of the largest, most dynamic and growing markets in the world and is too big to ignore for any global player. Unlike its biggest neighbour, India’s primary attraction lies in its massive market size and open market policies for digital players. There is a viable demand for every solution. However, sharp segmentation is the key to success… If a company wants to come into India without any localisation then it will only be able to capture the top 1% of the Indian consumers who are highly affluent and have similar exposures as that of the western audience.”


In her article, Arora presents some key aspects of building a robust business and localisation in India as understanding of Indian business culture, creating a strong local leadership, building a strong digital product with ability to focus on consumer segmentation, creating content in regional languages beyond Hindi, focus on video and audio, innovative content, metrics developed for Indian conditions and finally revenue diversification beyond advertiser led revenue model.


The article deliberates on how to develop a healthy ecosystem and the various adjustment factors which an international company investing in India has to deal with. In conclusion, she elaborates on building a successful internet news media company for the future in India and shares her own industry experiences in the end note.  To sum up, it is a very good guideline for international companies interested in investing in Indian digital media market.


I found Arora’s analysis lacking in only one aspect. Indian media today is vulnerable to administrative excesses and political pressure to a degree which International organisations are not used to dealing with. Arora has completely ignored this aspect of doing media business in India, though digital media in future will have to deal with many such situations.

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