“In future, majority of India’s digital consumers will consume content in their native languages”
With over 130 million monthly active users in India UC Web is providing specialized, curated content for the masses. Faster download speed and data saving makes it a hit among range of population speaking as many as 12 local Indian languages besides Hindi and English. Managing the task, Huaiyuan Yang, Vice President, UC Web Global Business, had a word with Haider Ali Khan on UC’s roadmap in India.
What have you learnt over the years of operations in India?
Over recent years, we all have witnessed how digital transformation has created a rapidly evolving business spectrum in India, especially for a company like ours which is digitally driven. India has become the largest and fastest-growing markets for digital consumers. This disruption has streamlined our operations and resulted in better customer experiences and increased profitability. Being a leader in the third-party mobile browser and a content platform segment, we are committed to building a healthy content ecosystem and have been persistently developing innovative product and technologies to match that.
Do you regret something in all these years which you could have done differently?
UC Web has deep roots in the Indian market and UC Browser has been a content platform for Indian users over the past decade. UC Web has played an important role in bridging the Digital Divide. As digital capabilities improve and connectivity becomes omnipresent, it is our endeavor to use information and knowledge to better help, equip and adapt to the rapidly changing digital world. We are in the right direction in terms of customer satisfaction and are optimistic towards providing exclusive and varied content for the Indian consumer.
How has the Indian online diaspora changed with platforms such as TikTok in effect?
With social network growing aggressively, short videos have become one of the most popular formats of content consumption amongst memes, GIFs and listicles. According to UC Media Lab Report, the penetration of video apps in India has been quite robust. The number of online viewers in India is rising massively year-on-year. Analyzing the market potential, we have long back forayed into video segment and are building a presence across languages in India.
How important localisation has become to stay relevant and what’s your contribution to it?
To meet diverse prospects of consumer behavior, localization is immensely essential and it is here to stay eternally. A huge amount of internet customers are coming from tier-2 and tier-3 cities and the majority of them prefer to consume content in their native language. We value consumer preference and experience for every market and India is no different. For regional users, we have been effectively functioning towards localizing browsing experience and content consumption. For instance, besides English and Hindi, we provide exclusive sports and entertainment content in 12 local languages, covering Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Oriya, Urdu, Bhojpuri and Assamese. In the near future, the majority of India’s digital consumers will consist of those who would want to consume content in their native languages.
Apart from this, we serve the needs of our local employees by building a local care system and contributing to various other aspects of their empowerment.
Entertainment and Sports are the main drivers of online content. How UCWeb has leveraged both as compared to its competitors?
OTT (over the top) market in India is gradually becoming a mainstream leisure destination for Entertainment and Sports content with the rapid rise in the Internet user base. Our user stickiness rate has actually been steadily growing. We had a record consumption of over 4 billion content pieces for cricket-related content during the recently concluded cricket season – including IPL 2019 and ICC World Cup 2019. UC Browser has also emerged as one of the most preferred platforms for sports content for audio live in multiple languages, with audio live commentary generating over 15 million users. During the IPL event, the average page view per visit was 5.4 in 2018, which increased to 6.28 in 2019. The total content consumption of UC Miss Cricket reached 60 million in 2019, which is much higher than 2018’s 19 million.
Likewise, entertainment is the largest category in mobile content consumption for Indian users on UC’s news feed platform. We have been partnering with dozens of top Indian production houses. Based on this, UC not only provides users with exclusive trailers and tidbits, but also produces short-form content related to movies and TV shows, including short videos, memes, GIFs and more. Thus, we are providing specialized curated content across categories for our wide user base of 130 million.
What is the advantage UCWeb enjoys over other players?
Having seen the aspirations of our consumers for content, UC has transitioned from a browser tool to a content platform and the change is based on UC’s insight towards the Indian market and change in need of our local users. Indian users have been extremely active in the consumption of digital content for the last few years. Users’ content demand has grown significantly. In the Indian market, our differentiated business strategy is not determined by considerations of competition, but by market conditions and user demands. For instance, many functions on UC are forerunners. Fast downloading and saving traffic in the browser tool has earned us a strong reputation among users. We are upgrading our products to meet the changing demands of Indian users in creative ways. This year, UC launched UC Browser Turbo and UC Browser Mini to meet users’ needs better.
We are an international technology company and we embrace changes and are willing to embrace competition on a domestic level and even globally, as we foresee challenges as opportunities to innovate.
What changes have UC Browser incorporated to stop and filter fake news and obscene content?
Fake news and obscene content is a world-wide problem. In the Indian market, we are actively using technological competence to solve this problem and to provide users with a better content experience. As a principled company, we use AI and man-machine combination to solve such problems. In the review process, the efficient machine audit works together with our manual review team to double secure the results. Meanwhile, senior media practitioners constantly improve quality standards. At the same time, content with cautiously high views is reviewed in a timely manner. We value any negative feedback from our users and solve issues immediately. Our effective information filtering will continue to create a healthy content experience environment for Indian users.
Do you have more content partners to make Browser more inclusive?
Our content supply is diverse and localized. Along with encouraging users to create content, we have been cooperating with Indian production houses for video licences related to movies. Also, we work with a number of key media who can provide us with quality news sources.
The ecology of new media content is still in its infancy in India. The content supply is insufficient, yet the market prospect is wide. We are extremely optimistic about the future and will work to enhance the ecology. We will likewise concentrate on aiding new content creators through investment and resource empowerment.
What’s the response of short videos feature so far? What’s the maximum interaction have you achieved till date?
As the Indian government has vigorously promoted Digital India, India’s overall network has improved and users’ mobile devices have also been upgraded. For the last two years, Indian users have been extremely active in the consumption of digital content.
UC browser caters to users with several other forms of snackable content. In addition to short-videos, UC also provides users with interesting GIFs and Memes.
UC has been able to create relevant short-content related to multiple movies for viewers interested in entertainment content. We have been able to replicate this with sports content, especially cricket, as well. Just to give you a perspective, UC Browser witnessed a record consumption of over 4 billion content pieces for cricket-related content during IPL 2019 and ICC World Cup 2019. We have been one of the most preferred platforms for live audio commentary across multiple languages, which generated over 15 million consumption since launched in June.
How India is placed on the priority list of Alibaba?
UC’s business is an extended portfolio of Alibaba Innovation Initiatives Business Group, focusing on the content platform and content ecological construction and business development based on the user demands. India is an important market for UC and we are determined on a localisation strategy. This includes localisation at the product level, on content, on language medium, and for recruitment. The UC news feed is available not only in English and Hindi but also in Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Oriya, Urdu, Bhojpuri and Assamese. UC will consider various investment opportunities in the future in India. At a global level, UC’s investment sources are rich and the investment direction is diversified.
As a global Internet company, our branches are in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, North America, and other places. Currently we have 430 million global MAUs (monthly active users). The Indian market is the most successful example of our global layout, with 80% of local employees and 130 million MAUs. Digital content consumption is on the rise in India and we are able to customize, curate and present diverse content to users via product portfolios. Through innovative products and technologies, UC is committed to building a healthy content ecosystem. For global users, we provide interesting, informative, valuable and diversified content, which helps eliminate the digital divide.