Public app is reinventing the vernacular advertising space and here is how they plan to do this

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Abhijeet Ranjan, Chief Revenue Officer, Public App


  1. How did the idea of Public app come into being?

India being a country where diversity cannot be ignored, an integral gap was observed by the founding team of Inshorts where local communities felt less connected to what was happening around them, and individuals were finding it difficult to access real-time reliable information. The team saw this as an opportunity to create a vernacular location-based social network that connects local communities across Bharat in their desired local language. And so, Public App was born where people can share real-time local updates by recording and sharing happenings around them. This allows for a comprehensive source of trustworthy information, as the app is used by government officials, politicians, media outlets, and citizen journalists to disseminate verified video content.

The response to the app was overwhelming. In the beta phase, Public App was launched in five districts of Rajasthan, and it quickly garnered the attention of local authorities, content creators, and citizens. The app was introduced throughout the state, and within six months, it became India’s fastest-growing local updates app. Today, Public App boasts over 60 million active users, and it is available in all major Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Assamese, Gujarati, and Marathi.

For the team behind Public App, it’s not just a platform; it’s a way of empowering individuals and providing them with the means to stay informed and connected with their local areas.

2. What is the demographic and target audience that the Public App caters to? How do you ensure that you reach out to the TA in a way that Public App stands apart from other social network platforms?

The Public App targets individuals who own smartphones and like consuming content in their regional language, regardless of whether they live in big cities or remote areas. The app caters to anyone who wants to access local news and updates. Currently, a majority of the app’s users (over 70%) belong to the GenZ and millennial age groups.

The founding team identified a gap in the market for a comprehensive and informative app that could deliver video content in local languages. Although numerous short-video apps were already available, they primarily focused on entertainment content rather than informative content. Public App stands out as an app that provides verified and credible information to its users, making it more of an informational app rather than an entertainment app. The app successfully filled this gap and continues to attract a large user base by offering valuable and relevant information to diverse communities across India.

Video consumption is growing with most users preferring content in vernacular languages and the consumers prefer watching platforms with video content.

Vernacular news users are extremely interested in watching Hyperlocal news relevant to their geography. While they are interested to learn about national and global happenings, getting local feed is of extreme significance for them.

The vernacular news user is also highly focussed towards the credibility of the news content. They prefer accuracy in all sorts of news articles, especially health and safety.

These users also like to engage and be a part of the narrative – through action/reaction tools, which is something we have enabled in our app. 

 3. Tell us about your monetization model and geo-targeted hyper-localized ads.

The Public App platform offers a unique opportunity for brands to connect with a diverse audience in India. We offer various ad formats to cater to brands targeting users across the country. Since launching its monetization model, Public App has invested heavily in ad tech solutions to offer innovative and creative solutions for brands.

Public App’s strength lies in its ability to reach users in both metro and remote areas, allowing brands to expand their reach beyond metros and target untapped markets. Public App aims to enhance its advertising capabilities, leveraging advanced data analytics and machine learning to optimize ad delivery and provide personalized and relevant ads to users.

Being a video-based information platform, we have placed a strong emphasis on enhancing our video ad solutions for brands. One of our recent advancements is the introduction of a fully native in-feed video banner, designed to capture the audience’s attention in a non-intrusive manner. This format seamlessly integrates with the user’s browsing experience, ensuring a smooth and engaging advertising experience. We did a campaign with Star Sports during IPL for that format which garnered over 5 MN views in 2 days with an industry-best 5% engagement rate and 1.5% CTR.

4. How does vernacular advertising pave the way towards a wider audience for a brand?

In recent years, the way people consume content has undergone a significant shift in India. With the rise of the digital age and the pandemic-induced lockdowns, more and more people across Urban and Rural districts of India are turning to digital platforms to satisfy their content needs. As a result, brands and content creators are leveraging this opportunity to create and distribute content that resonates with the masses.

However, what’s interesting is that the digital revolution in India is not just limited to the metros or urban areas. People in tier II and III cities, and even rural areas, are now more connected than ever before. This has opened up a huge market for brands and creators to reach out to a diverse and engaged audience.

Consumers in the language user market prefer ad formats which should engage with them rather than coming up abruptly / intrusively for effective brand building. Hence, the use of native ad formats, contextual ad placements and innovations to engage + educate them / create awareness is recommended.

Also, there is a clear need to communicate with these digital users in their native language over English as they are more comfortable consuming content (and hence ads) in their language.

India is a country of over a billion people, with each region having its own language, dialects, and accents. Language is not just a means of communication but a source of identity, pride, and belonging for Indians. That’s why vernacular content strikes an emotional chord with the audience. It’s the perfect way to capture a larger audience and create a deeper connection with the audience. Moreover, vernacular content also helps in creating a wider reach for brands. With more and more people joining the digital bandwagon, there’s a huge untapped market waiting to be explored. By creating content in regional languages, brands can tap into these markets and connect with audiences in previously untapped regions.

Looking ahead, we will see a spurt in regional language ad copies and innovations. However, the brands that will start early and start advertising on apps with vernacular content with vernacular ads will get a big headstart when it comes to capturing the brand attention & consideration.

5. What are some of the ad formats on Public App?

India has many languages and dialects, which creates great potential for regional advertising. Public App offers ad solutions that enable personalized and engaging campaigns that resonate with the target audience.

Public App has invested in ad tech solutions and is constantly launching innovative ad formats. The ad solutions are a mix of Native – Display and Video, Content Integration and Innovation-led creatives. These can be bought as a part of Roadblock (CPD Buy) or Sustenance (CPM Buy) campaigns. The platform offers top ad formats like rich media motion stories, interactive galleries, vernacular magazines, native half-page and quarter-page display banners, and others. Public App’s ad solutions are designed to connect with users on a personal level by using vernacular advertising. Public App has also doubled down on the video ad solutions available to brands by launching fully native in-feed video banners. These ad formats allow brands to capture audience attention in a non-intrusive manner and highly engaging manner.

All the ad formats on Public App are 100% viewable, and brands have the option to target the audience base contextually, behaviour-wise, content-wise, geo-location-wise up to the district level, and by hashtags, language or day parts. With these features, Public App is the ideal platform for brands looking to connect with users across the length and breadth of India.

6. What are some technologies you offer to brands seeking ad solutions at Public app?

Our ad solutions at Public App incorporate a range of advanced technologies that enable brands to effectively target their audience. One of the key technologies we use is hyper-localized regional content that allows brands to geo-target users. With support for all major Indian languages and over 60 million active app users, brands can be assured of reaching their desired audience.

We also utilize cutting-edge technologies such as lazy loading, CSS3 animations, responsive mobile design, and video load function logic to provide the best advertising options. In addition, we use AI/ML to provide personalized video recommendations based on the user’s browsing history, dwell times, and interests. This enables brands to serve highly relevant content to their target audience, thereby improving engagement and conversions.

At Public App, user engagement is a top priority, and we constantly strive to provide a user interface that meets their diverse needs.

7. What are your long-term and short-term growth plans for the platform?

This year we are putting a strong focus on user engagement and user stickiness, recognizing that these factors are key to its success. To achieve this, we are committed to providing a user interface that is easy to use and accessible, while also meeting the diverse needs of its users.

In order to expand its user base, we are working to better understand the content preferences of users in rural areas and to reach even deeper pockets of India. To accomplish this, we are developing new features, including live video streaming, which will enable local leaders and authorities to connect with their communities. Additionally, an in-built video creation tool with advanced features is being created to make content creation on mobile devices easier for users.

As an advertising solution, we stay on top of changing consumer preferences and continuously improve by offering innovative ad formats supported by cutting-edge technology. Customer retention is prioritized by providing a user interface that meets their diverse needs and gives them easy access to all app features. The app offers geo-targeting through hyper-localized regional content and supports advertising in major Indian languages, providing brands with a platform to establish a stronger connection with their audience and build impactful campaigns. With over 60 million active users, the Public App is a valuable advertising solution for brands.



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