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Times Of India Invests $4 Million In Online Content Network InstaMedia

InstaMedia Instablogs Times

InstaMedia Instablogs Times
Content Network Instamedia, which owns around 15 niche content sites and the citizen journalism platform Instablogs, has raised $4 million from the Times of India group. The investment has been made via the groups Internet subsidiary Times Internet Limited (Indiatimes), and Satyan Gajwani, Director of Business Development, for the Times of India Group has joined InstaMedia’s board of directors. Started four years ago, InstaMedia has previously raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal in 2008, and received support from The Morpheus. We’ve requested both for information on whether they have exited the business. (Update: Both Gondal and The Morpheus remain invested, they’ve confirmed to us)

InstaMedia includes content verticals like Luxury (BornRich.org), Green Living (Green Diary, EcoFriend), Gadgets (GizmoWatch, BornTechie, CellphoneBeat, Techfemina), Smart Homes (Hometone, Homeqn), Design (The Design Blog),Autos (AutoMotto), Fashion (StyleGuru), Entertainment (CelebGuru). All the properties, InstaMedia co-Founder and CEO Ankit Maheshwari told MediaNama, receive around 4 million unique visitors a month, and over 8 million pageviews.

Plans

The company intends to use the funding to revamp and ramp up its content model – it will move to a mostly freelance based model, with its in-house content team of around 40 managing the freelancers. This will help it ramp up its content output, which is currently at around 5000-6000 articles per month. The company had 400-500 freelancers working for it before the recession. Over 60% of its audience is from US and Europe.

InstaMedia also plans to launch local language sites for  the European market, Maheshwari told MediaNama, though their initial focus will be on expanding the content, and the change in model. The switch to a freelance model is being facilitated by a rather impressive content management platform that Instamedia has, called Instapress.

Business & Monetization

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TechCrunch had reported in 2008, quoting sources, that InstaMedia (then Instablogs) had revenues of around $300,000 per year. Maheshwari declined to comment on that report, or comment on current revenues, saying only that they’ve more than doubled revenues over the last two years, during recession. He said that the company went in for funding only after becoming profitable, and they were profitable during the last financial year.

For monetization, InstaMedia uses direct sales, Google Adsense, premium ad networks and blind ad networks, with its niche verticals accounting for much of its revenues. Maheshwari said that they chose those niche verticals (mentioned above) because of the higher CPM (Cost Per Milli/thousand impressions) rate that advertisers pay for those verticals.

SAAS Model

Instamedia also plans to offer Instapress to publishers and media networks, allowing them to use technology to deliver greater ROI and performance. Currently, it powers the back end for Instablogs, and two websites from UTV – Bindass.com and UTV Action. Instapress has the ability to track and evaluate performance of freelancers and more importantly, the content they churn out, tracking metrics like social score, backlink score, quality score, post consistency, pageview consistency, turnaround time etc. InstaMedia will also offer a fully hosted content solution, called Instapress Content Server (ICS), which will allow other media networks to use the technology to drive greater ROI and performance from existing content production teams.

(Updates made: annual revenues of $300,000 per year, not per month. Thanks Mohak; Spelling of The Morpheus corrected. Updated that Vishal Gondal and The Morpheus remain invested)

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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