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TikTok ban: Indian UGC apps ready to take on traffic; see advertiser interest too

Many users have already flocked to those apps.

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KOLKATA: TikTok had become a rage among millions of Indian youth until the Indian government’s interim ban crushed its multi-billion dollar strategy. Creators, influencers and marketers will have to seek an alternative platform as the future of TikTok remains uncertain in the country. But the flip side of the story is a silver-lining for Indian platforms and video sharing apps which are now poised to grow fast. UGC platforms like Roposo and Bolo Indya have started seeing a massive user base shift to their platforms.

These homegrown apps had already been growing since the last few weeks when the call to use local brands started. With the recent decision of the government, they are set to see never-expected traffic, at least the instant reaction seems so. Bolo Indya co-founder Varun Saxena says it saw over one lakh new creators joining the platform in less than 24 hours and around five lakh new videos had already been created. Roposo co-founder Mayank Bhangadia says a number of TikTok influencers have already announced their shift to the Indian short video app. He adds that it will direct followers to the platform as well.

“It is a big boost for most of the short video platforms because these creators will look for a new platform. It’s a big opportunity for Indian applications from the perspective of getting new creators and high volume also,” Saxena adds.

However, he also mentions that most of the TikTok influencers are now exploring where they can get a good follower which includes Instagram and YouTube too. He adds that for a few days they will be creating content on all the platforms and will stick to one once they get a loyal audience. Saxena says Bolo Indya is favourable to creators compared to others as its format, interface, time length is very similar to TikTok. 

According to Bhangadia, this change is extremely good for an Indian entrepreneur and will give them a very good boost. He says that they have got calls from close to 20 brands inquiring about how to advertise on Roposo the morning after the ban. They are hopeful that the shift will be happening in the next few days.

“Roposo is best positioned because we have been working for the last few years and we have built a product which is not available anywhere in India. The kind of camera feature we have along with other features is not available on all apps. The holistic nature of the platform is able to accommodate many communities. We don’t focus only on lip sync or short act. We have all kind of talented people. Hence, creators are shifting to us,” he adds.

Saxena says that they were already doing content marketing working with certain brands. And the major reason brands were working with the platform despite the fact that it had less volume compared to TikTok was the higher spending power of users on the app compared to TikTok and Helo. While new creators will give it a better volume also, Saxena is optimistic that they would definitely see more and more brands coming to Indian applications for content marketing.

“In a short to medium term, advertisers and agencies will look at alternate platforms to help them meet their marketing goals. Some of the banned platforms are sizeable, so it would be difficult to find an immediate apparent replacement. In this case, a combination of replacements or an increase in presence in existing platforms can be an option. Also, the ban is still a little unclear from an implementation standpoint. The downloaded apps are still running, though new downloads are at a halt. If the government calls for a complete ban, things will go south for these platforms. Even then, I don’t believe brands will advertise on these apps, fearing public outrage,” TheSmallBigIdea CEO and co-founder Harikrishnan Pillai says.

“For influencers, from a short-term POV, the business will be affected if they have had a single platform focus. From a long-term perspective, Indian apps have a great opportunity to grow. ‘Revenge Download’ will lead to a sudden spike of Indian apps. Whether they manage to be sticky and effective, time will tell,” Pillai adds.

While the sudden spike in traffic will be a pressure on the apps, they are ready to take on new users. Saxena says they had started updating their infrastructure a couple of weeks back because it was expecting something like this to take place. They have been pro-actively ready to take the kind of surge it saw since Monday night. As he shares, there was hardly 1.5 minutes of downtime because it was upgrading infrastructure.

Bhangadia is also confident about Roposo’s engineering team. He also says that the team has been preparing because the app had seen surge coming in the last four months since the lockdown started. It got accelerated in the last few weeks when people started shifting to Indian products. He also mentions that they are part of a much larger InMobi group. 

"This is a welcome move from the government against platforms that have had serious privacy, cybersecurity and national security risks. We expect the government to continue their support for the Indian startup ecosystem,” ShareChat public policy director Berges Malu comments. 

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