The second lever is business messaging, said Mohan
Instagram Reels, a short video brand, is fast becoming a major growth lever for Meta India. The Vice President and Managing Director of Meta India, Ajit Mohan, speaks to Vanita Kohli-Khandekar on what the short-form video format means for the Rs 9,236-crore firm and how creators from tier 2 and tier 3 cities are leading the change. Edited excerpts:
What are the big levers for Meta’s growth?
Reels and short videos are the number one lever. Over the last 18 years, formats that have grown well have followed the changing nature of the internet. Initially, you had text messages. Then we had smartphones that could take great pictures. In the last few years, videos saw a huge traction. In the last 12-18 months, it has been evident that short-form video is the latest rendition of a format that is exploding. 20 per cent of the time spent on Instagram is on Reels while 50 per cent of the time spent on Facebook is on video. India has always been a video first market; increasingly it is becoming a short-form video first market.
The second lever is business messaging. How small and large businesses use WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram to interact with consumers and build loyalty.
The third one is related to the first one and also on the big bets we are making around the Metaverse: creators. We are seeing the rise of a new generation of creators largely from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. For example, we have a programme called ‘Born on Instagram’. It helps build the next generation of creators by educating them on the tools we offer on Instagram for creation, monetisation, collaboration etc. Over 120,000 people went through the programme with 75 per cent of them coming from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
Are these Reels or Instagram celebrities? Has Reels overpowered Instagram?
We are convinced that this is the future so we don’t see a conflict or a dichotomy. We are now working on building a discovery engine. The idea is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to drive interesting content (focus is on short-form video) across all our platforms, even if it wasn’t posted by a friend or someone you follow.
Wouldn’t that put you within kissing distance of YouTube, the de-facto search engine for video in India?
I think it goes beyond that. The short form video will change that (YouTube being the search tool for video). For many people, their first exposure to the internet may be a Reel or a short-form video. In India, Reels and Instagram are the leaders.
There is a lot of valuation-driven action in short-form video. Do you see advertising or other forms of revenues coming in?
The introduction of a new product or format that has consumer engagement, sooner or later, has translated into being an effective tool for marketers/advertisers as well. We are convinced that it will be true for Reels as well. Also, marketers recognise that this is a generational shift. What video was for the previous generation, short-form video is for this generation. It becomes a powerful marketing tool because of the cultural context. A lot of our marketing efforts in the last two years were product focussed, on engagement, and then on creators. Now we are focussed on how we make it available for marketers and advertisers.
What stage are you at on the Metaverse? Is it being used by brands?
The next version of the internet will be immersive. You won’t be looking at a screen. You will be in it. It will be a transition from 2D to 3D enabled by an access device like Quest (Meta’s virtual reality headset). We are not building the Metaverse, but the toolkits —hardware and software—that will enable other developers and creators to build different parts of the Metaverse.