Content companies have relied on advertising to keep their subscription costs low. However, times are changing!
The pandemic is putting pressure on budgets for advertising, and this in turn, together with the change in consumer’s desire to get instant, instant quick gratification, has forced businesses that create content across the globe to reconsider their revenue-driven user model.
The company is based in New Delhi. SaaS company ConsCent that helps to facilitate the direct-to-consumer process for gaming, media and streaming platforms, so that they can increase revenue via the decentralisation of payment customers.
Established in April 2020 from former reporters Sunny Sen and Sounak Mitra, ConsCent creates smart and efficient revenue opportunities for content, news and OTT businesses, with its intelligent paywalling options, analytics, retention and engagement tools, and personalized recommendations.
Sunny claims that ConsCent comes of four phrases. “Conscious to pay and Consent to pay Content as well as Cent (a fraction of the cost of a dollar). The concept was to include an amalgamation of feelings, desire to pay, and revenue generation within the title.”
The startup was established in the middle of the first lockdown on pandemics that took place in the month of April.
Micropayments, small-scale financial transactions that can be used to purchase a specific service, a particular piece of digital content, or even an application download, came into the spotlight. The micropayments allowed users to purchase only one or two items instead of the complete subscription.
Sunny and Sunny, who have been working with major media brands such as Business Today, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, Businessworld, The Financial Express and Network18 and says that if quality content is going to succeed millions of viewers are required to pay a small cost for what they are consuming.
“At scale, this becomes a huge value proposition for the publishers,” the author states.
To reduce friction in payment and increase conversion The startup also provides the possibility of a universal login and an interoperable payment system that allows users to sign in and create accounts on every website where they want to consume premium content.
In the 17 months since its launch, ConsCent has grown to be a market leader in the field of content monetisation. It works with more than fifty media as well as OTT brands from India such as India Today Group, Outlook Group, Jagran Group headed by Jagran Prakashan Ltd, and Amar Ujala,among others.
In the last few months, the company has expanded its offerings to include predictive and behavioural analytics, personalized targets, and retention strategies to improve conversion rates and interactions between content providers and users.
The company’s founder claims ConsCent will be one of the “only solution in the world” that supplies publishers with all the tools necessary to control a reader’s duration.
“We are a full-stack ‘micropayment to subscriptions’ and ‘acquisition to retention’ solution provider, and all our solutions, integrations, and partnerships are designed to cater to the varied needs of content and media companies,” Says Sunny who worked closely with Moneycontrol Pro, India’s largest subscription-based magazine, while at Network18.
He claims that the universal login/payment feature that is available on all devices “reduces payment friction by up to 75%”.
Sunny says that the company that introduced the pay-per-content method of digital content payments is the only one around the globe that provides the complete payment platform including subscriptions, micropayments and even subscriptions.
He also outlines other features that are unique that include audience segmentation as well as content suggestion tools, as well as recommendation platforms that have multi-subscription landing page (MSLP) capabilities. These are designed to help you target groups of people and increase conversion rates.
ConsCent currently has a staff that includes 35+ people.
Sunny the CEO is responsible for the acquisition of funds and managing Consent’s investor relations. He is the head of the design, product marketing, sales and marketing departments.
Sounak The COO is responsible for the IT team. His main responsibilities include overseeing the company’s integrations of technology and ensuring the smooth delivery of new features in the product with quality. He also manages finance, HR, and other business operations.
Sounak was previously employed by major media houses such as those of the Network18 Group, Times of India, Mint, Business Standard, Telegraph and the Financial Times Group. While at Network18, he collaborated alongside Sunny on the introduction the new product Moneycontrol Pro.
Revenue and business model
In the past year, more than fifty Indian magazines have imposed paywalls on premium content and 35 of them are ConsCent partners. The number is likely to grow to 200 within the coming two-to 3 years. This will further splintering the market for subscriptions.
“Today five of top 10 media companies across the country have ConsCent partners. Additionally, we manage the largest paid-user network for news and information content in the nation with more than six lakh paying customers in our network of partners,” Sunny says.
The startup operates under an income-sharing model. It charges between 5 and 15 percent for subscriptions, and 20-30% for micropayments made to its partners. The company does not charge anything for integrations or other features it offers through its dashboard.
The funding process and the path ahead
In July the platform for content monetisation has raised an amount of 13.26 million (about $1.75 millions) through an investment bridge led by Inflection Point Ventures.
When it comes to market outlook, Sunny says “There are different ways to view the market outlook. One of them is to look at the transition from digital to physical. In India physical subscriptions and newsstand sales of newspapers and magazines stand at around 8100 crore rupees. Around 25-30% of these will be converted to digital within the next two or three years. This makes it a total of Rs 2,025-2.430 crore business.”
He adds that the other method is to examine conversion numbers within the digital world.
“There there are approximately 500 million users of digital news in India. Just 1.5 million have paid for news to date. This is only 0.3 percent of the base. News buying is a relatively new concept in India and there’s plenty of room for growth on the market. This is similar to the scenario where the e-commerce industry was in 2009-10.”
As per Reuters Institute, in 20 countries where surveys were conducted in 2021 17% of those who participated (including 28% from Nordic countries as well as 21 percent in the US and 17 percent within the Netherlands) reported that they purchased news for a fee, an increase from 12% in 2016.
Based on the same numbers for conversion with the same conversion numbers in India approximately 80-85 million people will be paying for information in the coming years.
ConsCent is considering expanding its operations outside of India and expanding its presence into India and the Indian subcontinent. The company intends to launch 15 new features and products within the next 12 months, in the fields of engagement, payment, retention, as well as design.
When asked about contest, Sunny says there are no local competitors. “However, FewCents, Piano.io and Evolok are some of our key competitors globally.”