March 24, 2021 1:41:01 pm
Despite being under a year old, homegrown short video apps like Moj, MX TakaTak Player and Josh now boast of more than 100 million downloads each on the Google Play Store. They have all stepped into the vacuum created by TikTok’s forced departure and now cater to many of its 200 million odd active users in India.
“The core goal of the Short Video space was to entertain the user. But if you look at the kind of content being created on Short video platforms today, it is not just restricted to entertainment. You will see a lot of do it yourself (DIY) videos, interesting hacks, even health related and education related content is there,” Gaurav Mishra, Senior Vice-President of Product at ShareChat tells indianexpress.com.
ShareChat is a relatively new entrant in the Short video space with its Moj app, but it has proved to be really successful in a short span of time. It has seen close to 146 million downloads till date, according to data shared by mobile analytics firm SensorTower. The app launched on July 1, 2020, merely days after TikTok was banned by the Indian government along with a bunch of other Chinese apps.
According to Sensor Tower data, Moj remains among the top five downloaded apps in India from December 2020 to March 2021. In February 2021 alone it had more 24 million downloads, according to Play Store rankings, data from Sensor Tower showed. Further, it was the second most downloaded app in the list.
“2020 was a fantastic year for us. Overall, both ShareChat and Moj grew pretty exponentially through the year. We launched Moj on July 1, 2020 and we’ve seen a dramatic growth trajectory, and it has consistently ranked on top of Google Playstore and Apple App Store,” Mishra said, adding that they were one of the fastest Indian short video platforms to cross 100 million downloads, achieving the goal in less than 200 days. The app sees an average user time spent of 34 minutes daily and has crossed 80 million monthly active users now, according to the company.
While Instagram has also benefited, launching its Reels platform soon after the ban, homegrown apps have been the biggest beneficiaries given that they cater to the regional segment too. Mishra, however, is keen to highlight that their success is due to the right investment in technology and learnings from ShareChat over the years, especially in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with a homegrown team.
“A lot of the core algorithms for Moj are powered by our recommendation engine, which uses AI and ML. Our growth comes from our ability to personalise the content for the right user at the right time,” he explained, adding that “there is complexity that comes with content in different languages,” which ShareChat has solved for and this experience has also helped Moj grow.
But many of Moj’s content creators and consumers are from metros and Tier I cities. Unlike Chinese apps which had made in-roads in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, Moj is seeing more growth in the metros and urban areas. “We’ve seen like an adoption across the board, but definitely if you ask me in terms of where the focus is where the majority of our audiences are, they’re mostly based in metros and Tier I,” Mishra explained.
Admitting that the Short Video space is highly competitive, Mishra said their focus is on building machine learning capabilities and ensuring the right creator ecosystem. This also means ensuring the best tools and technology for creating videos. In fact, Moj recently announced an integration with Snap Inc’s CameraKit, bringing many of the augmented reality features to its app, which will add more tools for creators on the platform.
ShareChat is focused on making sure they are shown the kind of content that they need and the core recommendation algorithm does the job well. “We run basic machine learning models to figure out if the content is duplicated, if the content is safe for our consumers, if it has any abusive content. A lot of the models were developed in house,” he explained, adding that in cases where they think it needs human judgment to evaluate a piece of content, they also rely on the same.
The problem for Moj is to figure out what exactly a consumer will consume; the kind of videos they will watch. “We invest in the creator ecosystem. What I mean by a creator ecosystem is identifying the creators who are pretty active and the new creators that are coming in who are trying out the platform. We do this by providing them with powerful editing capabilities, a vast music library, camera filters and special effects, so that they can create highly engaging and fun original content,” he stressed.
Moj also organises workshops and training for some of the creators though it has not yet started paying them, a strategy which other platforms are deploying. The company said it doesn’t have any such plans for now as the focus is on ensuring the right content delivery and discovery.
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