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BW Businessworld

Arre: The Millennial Expression

If you want to know how media companies are investing in talking to millennials, Arré is one brand you don’t want to skip

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If you want to know how media companies are investing in talking to millennials, Arré is one brand you don’t want to skip. From text and audio to video, Arré has laid out a multi-genre, multi-format canvas with the single objective of addressing the ‘attitudinally millennial’. Sai Kumar shares more on the company’s plans with BW Businessworld’s Noor Fathima Warsia

Since its launch in April 2016, digital media company Arré, which publishes original web series, reality shows, docs and other non-fiction content, has attracted advertising from the likes of Gillette, Godrej & Boyce, Kingfisher, Dell, Palo Alto Networks and One Plus; and currently, has the fastest-growing engagement rates across platforms. It has now set its sight on launching regional verticals, beginning with Tamil, and entering food in “Arré style”.

“In digital, we are at the starting line. This is going to be one long journey. We set out with Arré to build a brand with the single-minded focus of resonating with the millennial audience, by which I mean ‘attitudinally millennial’, i.e. age is not the only filter for Arré. We consciously didn’t want to be restricted or defined by boundaries of format or medium such as fiction, non-fiction, video, text, doodles, audio, etc. In line with this thinking, we employ all formats and genres to tell a story that connects with this audience. And any of these formats can at a second stage, scale into a vertical basis market opportunities and audience traction. Engagement, views and advertising revenues are indicators that we are on the right track,” says founder and managing director of Arré, Sai Kumar.

Attitudinally Millennial
In April 2016, Enam picked up significant minority stake in the company and further consolidated its pie by buying out Ronnie Screwvala’s share. Since launch, Arré has constantly created content to attract a very elusive target group. Be it non-fiction in text and doodles or Trial by Error | The Aarushi Files, a recreation in Audio along with Saavn or A.I.SHA | My Virtual Girlfriend, a web thriller or I Don’t Watch TV, a satirical take on the Indian television industry or Death by Breath, a documentary on Delhi’s pollution in partnership with the Indian Express Group.

“We are pleased by the audience acceptance of the wide and varied content mix. In legacy media, these would be three or four different media products — a print product, a TV entertainment channel and a radio station, but digital is a melting pot of formats and genres and that’s our core content approach. Despite the wide range, it is important to stay consistent on voice, attitude and idiom. That was the first challenge we addressed,” explains Sai.

He points out that the brand is primarily focused on engagement and not just page views and impressions. “We needed to get audience engagement right, and we have. The overall environment — propelled by better bandwidth, social media products like Facebook Instant articles, mushrooming of audio platforms, and the explosion in OTT (over-the-top content) — is very conducive to a brand like ours and that helps,” he adds.

Sai is most encouraged by the advertiser response. “Branded content has picked up. Clients are looking to be involved from the scripting stage meaningfully. One Plus and Kingfisher on Official Chukyagiri or three brands from the Godrej & Boyce for our upcoming reality show based on a social experiment ‘Arré Ho Ja Re-Gender’ are some examples. On the syndication front, we have partnered with Yupp TV, Apalya and Pressplay TV and there are more conversations on,” says Sai.

He also hints at Arré eventually developing its pay revenue, explaining that it is important to net audiences first, then advertising and syndication revenues and then pay.

“We have to cut our cloth in line with revenue but without losing opportunity. That balance is critical. At the end of it, this is traditional media with a digital lens and an audience with a notoriously low attention span but a huge amount of savvy and purchasing power. The fundamentals, the need for a sound business sense, stay the same as it does in traditional media,” Sai concludes.

3 Qs to Sai Kumar on what’s next for Arré

Why Tamil & food?
For audiences and advertising. In regional, Tamil is one of the biggest markets, and mobile consumption and mobile penetration is much more secular compared to cable and carriage in the broadcast area. Also, the right infrastructure and not too many options currently will make this a sound opportunity. Similarly for food, which we believe, has space for an ‘Arré style’ offer.

What is your own check-list of success?
For all of us here, this has been a unique experience. The entrepreneurship journey is as much about passion as it is about creating value. We need to take the best of what we have learnt in our earlier careers, marry it with the million brimming ideas from the young talented team we have at Arré and that’s the potent mix that needs to work. From a company standpoint, there are two clear objectives — be among the top media brands of this country and bring unparalleled consumer understanding, and translate that to revenue growth.

How is Enam helping you in achieving your goals?
The Enam Group’s investments will be used in the organic build out of Arré’s content, the overall product offering and facilitate scaling it into a significant player in the digital content business. The journey has just begun.