Industry Speak

Karan Shroff,

VP - Marketing

OOH advertisers will have to explore creative measures at lucrative prices

"In a chat with Allaboutoutdoor.com, Karan Shroff, VP- Marketing, Unacademy shares how is he handling the ongoing crisis? Here are edited excerpts from a conversation with him."
April, 2020

The ongoing pandemic has impacted all sectors and businesses. What are you doing to cope with this situation?

We at Unacademy have taken up a number of measures to ensure seamless learning for students during this period. We are conducting over 20,000 free Live Classes on our platform across exam categories. Additionally, we have opened up our platform for educational institutions to conduct their classes for free. There are no limitations on the hours or number of classes for institutions that opt to conduct their classes on Unacademy.

How is the fallout of Covid-19 pandemic across the world and in India impacting the industry and your company in particular?

The Ed-Tech sector has seen a significant uptake globally as people are actively seeking online education as a means to ensure continued learning amidst the ongoing pandemic. The initiatives that we have taken in the last one month such as offering free Live classes to students and opening up our platform to other educational institutions for free, has resulted in some unprecedented numbers for us. We crossed one billion minutes of watchtime on our platform and across our YouTube channels in the month of March itself. We have also witnessed a significant rise in Daily Active Users to around 500,000 per day and an increase in viewers per week for the special free classes by 150%. We have seen an exponential growth of 110% in our active subscriber base taking the number to over 1.5 million learners since the beginning of March.

How have you changed your marketing approach after this outbreak?

Our marketing initiatives during the current situation have largely been focused towards assuring the learners that Unacademy supports their dreams and will provide uninterrupted learning for them. We have been using different mediums such as social media, digital, radio, OOH, print and broadcast to spread the word amongst learners that are looking for quality education amidst the pandemic. We want to assure them that their learning doesn’t have to be impacted due to the current situation and that quality learning is still an option for them within the safe environment of their homes. 

We recently launched a few more classes of “Legends on Unacademy” - a program where we bring well known personalities to teach Live Classes on our platform. In this edition, legendary personalities such as Shashi Tharoor, Kiran Bedi, Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma have taken Live Classes on a plethora of subjects ranging from international relations and the future of India to the role of faith and hard work in success. Earlier this year, we had legendary cricketers such as Brian Lara, Brett Lee, and Jonty Rhodes taking Live Classes on mental strength, dealing with failure etc.

We are making various efforts to help our learners avoid being anxious and restless. And in times like these, even the smallest encouragement from people we look up to goes a long way in keeping us hopeful. This is the purpose of coming back with more classes on Legends on Unacademy during this COVID-19 crisis. These legends from different walks of life are admired by learners across the country and have the capability to inspire thousands of minds with their Live Classes on Unacademy. Our learners are at the heart of everything we do and we want to ensure we continue to nurture Unacademians during this phase.

What is the biggest challenge you face right now?

Our biggest concern currently is to be able to reach the maximum number of students across the country and ensure that they can continue to learn during these trying times. All our efforts are concentrated towards this goal and we are working towards democratising education.

Will your market behave the way it was before the lockdown, or will there be subtle changes?

Consumer behaviour and preference across industries will change post the pandemic. The urge to be in a safe environment will propel many to stay indoors and avoid physical contact as much as possible. This can cause a behavioural shift for consumers as they start to realise the benefits of online learning platforms such as ours that can offer quality education with remote access. There will be an increased preference towards online learning resulting in an upward trajectory as we go along.

Do you think that the coronavirus pandemic will have a larger impact on your advertising spend?

There has been a surge in demand for online services that are able to function amidst the ongoing pandemic, so the advertising trends for organisations will also depend on the nature of their business. Any change in marketing spends for us will depend on how the situation pans out in the coming months. We will continue to explore all forms of communication that can help us reach out to the students and extend a helping hand to learners.

How will Covid’19 impact your upfront plans for 2020 and 2021?

Our sole focus right now is to be at the forefront of ensuring continued learning for students in our country. These are trying times for everyone and it is too soon to comment on business plans for the next 2 years. However, we will continue to strive and ensure quality learning for students from the comfort of their homes.

Once the lockdown is lifted what will be your top 3 big priorities, on the work front?

Our utmost priority has been to ensure uninterrupted education for the learners, be it during the pandemic or even after its lifted, learning never stops with Unacademy.

Post lockdown, what are the innovations that you would like to see in the outdoor advertising space which will drive companies such as yours to advertise more often on this medium?

It's important to understand that the world is faced with a situation today like never before. Consumer behaviour will change massively and with social distancing becoming the norm till the pandemic ends, the manner in which people consume advertising content will evolve as we go along. While it's too early to comment on the exact innovations needed in the space since we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, OOH advertisers will have to explore creative measures at very lucrative prices to effectively sustain the positive impact they have had in terms of the consumer reach. OOH advertisements will have to be extremely relevant, creative and highly economical than ever before to ensure that they have the desired effect.

What according to you is the need of the hour for the outdoor industry in India?

The biggest thing for OOH platforms to do at present is to bide their time. The lockdown has restricted movement and it is the need of the hour hence impacting the OOH medium as well. Like mentioned earlier, these are trying times and it's important for people and businesses alike to be optimistic about the future and see this through together, any industry or business can be revived thoroughly if people stand united.

What role does outdoor advertising have in your scheme of things after this outbreak?

Like mentioned earlier, we will continue to explore all possible forms of communication to reach out to learners across the country in an effort to ensure quality education for them from the comfort of their homes.

Interview by: Aarti Pahwa

Tags :  Karan Shroff OOH Unacademy Covid’19

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