War of the video apps

YouSay says that some Indian apps are playing it foul with the views and likes of videos and this ‘fraud culture’ would mean bad news for the entire creator eco-system

Published: 31st March 2021 01:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st March 2021 09:27 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD :  India-based short video apps have managed to hog the limelight after Tik Tok ban in 2020. However, not all is well with the new app playground as many apps are cashing on the big craze for short videos by manipulating views, followers and likes. Hyderabad-based app YouSay on Tuesday wrote an open letter addressing the issue. The app focusses on entertaining videos and its USP is personalisation Artificial Intelligence algorithm which plays thousands of  videos that are curated just for the user based on your tastes and interest. The app launched in January 2021 has 35K users and over 500 creators. 

Says Shaik Ismail, CEO of YouSay, “These short video apps to compete with each other are trying to get more video content and are paying monthly huge remuneration to the creators around 80K per month who just need to post some 20 to 30 videos per month. These are basic levels of creators who have just started. There is no real value for original, interesting and creative content. If bad content and good content get the same likes, views and followers then there is no real incentive for the creators to think original and do something real interesting.

In simple words “they don’t need to think, just shoot” Creating meaningful and interesting content is not an easy thing, Bollywood/Indian Cinema with huge budgets in crores and multiple people behind, fail to create good content in majority of their films.” Another big problem is more like a psychological problem, people want to see big numbers. The stars want huge numbers of followers, creators want huge numbers of likes and so on. There are many more problems than this, the request for all stakeholders is to see what they can do to make this ecosystem stronger and try to define balance and checks so manipulations are not that easy to do.

The fundamental problem with these short video apps is they are trying to create content as if they are creating blog posts or creating some apps. Creating videos for entertainment is an art, talent needs to be nurtured and ecosystems need to be built This takes time and only happens if talent and creativity is rewarded truthfully.  Majority of these apps are running in a mode where the creators are 80% of the viewers which clearly shows how the money is flowing.

“We don’t even know these platform names and we don’t advertise on them is what you might be thinking”. Even if not direct advertising, the ads might be placed in these apps via numerous marketplaces or ad networks.  Already Online advertising ad fraud compromises media spend, and if advertised on these platforms, imagine the ROI.  Rechecking and asking for more information and making sure not advertising on these platforms is the most sane thing to do now. Google and Apple Now is the time for Google and Apple, the two major mobile Operating System companies, to come up with some metrics which can be published regularly so the trust of the mobile ad ecosystem is restored. The installs of the app tells only one side of the story and is very susceptible, they add.

App makers warn that creators should note that this is a short term phenomenon of different short video app companies vying to pay for any content posted. This is going to pass. If being a good influencer is the goal this is the right time to invest in how to create captivate content. But one thing for sure this influencer marketing is going to stay and this will become really big in a few years to come. Creators on other apps such as Instagram and Josh believe that good content alone will survive in the long run and none of these myopic, quick fixes. More power to good content, they add.

What users/public can do

  • Like good content and follow creators if they are creating good stuff (Sic). This is the least they can be paid for creating good content. 
  • Stop behaving like herds if a video is liked by millions of people, then only liking and if there are millions of installs then only using the app. Start encouraging fresh talent and new apps.
  • Give meaningful reviews on what is not liked or what is liked in the app or videos. A simple one word ‘Waste’ or ‘Awesome’ doesn’t tell anything.

— Manju Latha Kalanidhi  @mkalanidhi


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