Inshorts plans subscription model to drive revenue growth

New Delhi: Tiger Global-backed news app Inshorts has started generating revenue through advertisements and sponsored content and is considering the launch of a subscription service, founder and chief executive Azhar Iqubal said.

The app publishes 60-word summaries on major news stories in the form of virtual placards that users swipe in order to move to the next news item. Users see advertisements and sponsored content in between the placards.

The ads model saw good early traction and now covers about 70% of the operational expenses, Iqubal said in an interview. Inshorts posted the first ad on the app in July last year and hired its first sales employee in October. Iqubal said the company achieved average monthly sales of Rs1 crore within a few months, but did not disclose details.

Iqubal said Inshorts has worked with 150 brands including Mercedes, Amazon, Ola and Vodafone. Brands typically sign up for both ads and sponsored content together through annual contracts, and pay on the basis of impressions (views) and engagements (likes and shares).

While it went with the ads model for revenue, instead of subscription, Inshorts doesn’t rule out the possibility of a premium service in the future.

“We chose to go with the ads models because it is safe and widely accepted,” Iqubal said. “At the same time, we are exploring a subscription or premium model for the app.”

Inshorts is used by high end consumers, about 70% of whom use the app on a smartphone worth above Rs10,000, Iqubal claimed. “That means ours is a high-spending user base, so there won’t be much issue if they have to pay for the premium product.”

The Inshorts app rolled out in September 2013 and has grown to over 8 million users. Iqual said “about 40% or approximately 4 million users” are active on a monthly basis.

In July 2015, Tiger Global invested $20 million in Inshorts, which has morphed into a media firm with more than 50% of its 138-member team comprising writers and editorial staff.

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