Manish Maheshwari



In the era of decreased spends on display, content seems to be the biggest bet for publishers. How has Network18 geared up to fortify its branded content offerings?

Over the last two years, we have built one of the best branded content offerings in the industry through the creation of F.Studio. Link to the site here:

Idea is to help brands and CMOs tell their stories convincingly in an era where the audience is making purchase decision digitally influenced by online content. We have hired some of the best creative strategists and storytellers. Our in house team of creators, across formats, ensure that each idea is given the careful execution that help it achieve it’s desired goal. We don’t just create the idea and hand it over. We make the idea come alive. Once the story is ready to be told here at F. Studio we make sure its seen and heard too through our various media properties ranging from CNBC to moneycontrol to Firstpost to CricketNext to to which together have a monthly active audience of over 100 million cutting across all customer demographics across the country.

Measurement of branded content is an area that most marketers are struggling with. How can we ensure that branded content brings home enough ROI?

We have invested in robust measurement tools to show to advertisers the ROI of their spend. We have built a data layer and profiled our 100 million+ audience across our more than two dozen digital properties. We are able to slice and dice the data to make the right comparison across time period and across customer profiles to hone the creative and audience targeting to ensure we get the desired outcomes for our customers.

Since traditional media is still a stronghold for Network18, how do you see the new and old converging to create a unified experience for consumers and brands, who look upto you for 360 degree solutioning.?

While we continue to remain strong in traditional media, over the last two years, our digital properties have grown by leaps and bounds.

  •, which is just 2 years old, has content in 11 languages and is India’s #2 general news destination online with 70 million monthly uniques, just behind Times of India, which has been in the country for over a century
  •, a cricket and sports destination, ranks # 2 in the sports category within a year of re-launch
  • as a differentiated quality opinion and insights destination, it is #1 in its genre in terms of unique visitors and engagement. Expanded into Hindi, India’s national language, and also into entertainment, sports, business and technology genres
  • It is clearly India’s largest and most engaging financial data and tools destination available on multiple platforms – web, mobile and social with over 25 million monthly active users. Its mobile app, with a Play Store rating of 4.4, was awarded the Best Mobile App for Business at the GSMA Asia Mobile Awards 2017. Moneycontrol became one of the first platforms in the country to be available on Facebook Messenger through bot
  •, which is just 2 years old, has content in 11 languages and is India’s #2 general news destination online with 70 million monthly uniques, just behind Times of India, which has been in the country for over a century

Through our central Focus and Digital IP team, we are able to offer customers with a holistic solution cutting across all content formats and distribution channels.

What are the biggest bets for you in 2018-19, what how much of this is dependent on new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, AR, VR etc

Our biggest bets are the 3Vs - Vernacular content, Video as the format and Voice as the interface. More details on this in my writeup here:

We have added 11 regional languages to which has given us tremendous reach across the length and breadth of the country. Each of our site now has video stories, which on a monthly basis is generating close to 30 million views. In addition, our videos are also available through VOOT, which is our OTT app.

How is your business strategy poised to attract the cord cutters and GenY?

We have a three-pronged strategy: (a) focus on the needs of millennials and non-English speaking audience, (b) serve short videos as content format, and (c) leverage social and mobile as distribution platforms. We notice that audience is spending a lot more quality time on their digital devices and therefore we are available where they are. We have forged strategic distribution partnerships with leading Chinese, American and Indian companies such as UC Web, Opera, Google, Facebook and Amazon. In addition, we have partnered with Reliance Jio to get content distributed to over 160 million Jio customers.

The kind of content they consume on these devises and how they consume content is different. We understand that and therefore we have invested in content team which produces native and original content for digital (e.g. vertical short duration videos).