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Indian Express launches a new health vertical, with a focus on distributed strategy

The Indian Express Digital launched Lifealth.com, a health and lifestyle vertical, to its existing digital portfolio Tuesday. The website is available in English and Hindi, and hosts content around lifestyle, health, pregnancy, parenting, relationships and spirituality. The website is an infinite scroll and currently features no advertisements.

Lifealth is the fifth digital vertical launched by the Indian Express Digital in the past seven months. In July 2016, the company spun off its food column into a separate website. In October 2016, the company launched InUth, targeting Indian millennials, with curated, multi-format content. These were followed by Techook, a gadget reviews website, and iemalayalam, a Malayalam news website, in January this year.

On launching separate verticals

Speaking to MediaNama, Sandeep Amar, CEO of Indian Express Digital said: “Audiences have a clear demand for certain kind of content. With the socio-economic growth in the past 15-years, people are now looking for far more specific information around health, auto, travel, gadgets, and lifestyle, and only separate verticals can service such diverse needs. There is a big demand for content around these topics, especially, in the vernaculars.”

While scale remains paramount to digital publishers in India and across the world, Indian Express Digital is trying tested waters with the launch of separate verticals. This follows a historic trajectory of news publishers and broadcasters who brought out separate and more focused supplements to attract ads.

However, Amar cautioned against such a line of thought applying to digital. “Verticals splitting out of a print publication is different. I believe in thinking digital and not in terms of lineage,” he says.

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“What we are looking at is an audience and different buckets of audiences and how we can cater to their needs,” he adds. “Inuth, for example, is a youth-focused website. The lede story there would be a trending story at the moment or sports or Bollywood content. That will never be the approach of the Indian Express. It will be very difficult for the Indian Express to do something like that because it is a far more serious website. The audience of the Indian Express will be very different from the audience of InUth,” Amar explained.

On monetizing

What is striking about the recent launches is the lack of display and banner ads on the new websites. Amar says, “Our focus is on improving the reader experience. We are looking to monetize these websites in the future using native ads and brand solutions.” The Indian Express Digital is also planning to launch Lifealth in regional languages within the next quarter, AdGully reports.

A recent trend emerging in publishing online is that publishers are slowly realising that one-size-fit-all approach comes with its own set of difficulties in growing a mass audience that can be monetized. Publishers are now building discrete verticals. The New York Times introduced verticals such as Cooking, Well and Smarter Living, before buying The Wirecutter, a technology and gadgets reviews site, last year. Buzzfeed, which has a distributed content strategy on social media, owns and runs more than 90 different pages on the social platform.

On Facebook Instant Articles

“We are 100% into Instant Articles. Monetization on Instant Articles is not as good as we would have hoped for. On Instant Articles page yield drops by 30%-40%. We are working closely with Facebook to improve that. The advantage of Instant Articles is higher engagement. And in a country with 80 million-90 million Daily Active Users on Facebook, we want to take advantage of that,” Amar says.

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