Rishi Khiani's Ant Farm rolls out advertising venture Fork Media

Rishi Khiani's Ant Farm rolls out advertising venture Fork Media

Fork Media Pvt Ltd, an advertising venture incubated at Mumbai-based Ant Farm, a startup platform set up by former Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani, has gone off beta.

Incorporated in February 2013 by Samar Verma (founder & CEO) and Upen Roop Rai (co-founder & MD ), Fork Media creates properties with publishers, where brands chip in to sponsor ad zones. The publisher powers the content and also brings in the audience. Fork Media will create, package and sell it as a package to the advertiser.

Fork Media has already roped in 15 publishers including HT Media, The India Today Group, The Hindu, The Daily Mail, among others (interestingly no Times of India given that the association of both Khiani and Rai with the group). It gives the firm a reach of over 25 million users across online and mobile platforms, it claimed.

"In India publishers are working with traditional ad agencies which are focusing on performance advertising. In contrast, Fork Media is providing native advertising in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing valuable content in the context of the user's experience," Ant Farm founder Khiani told Techcircle.in.

Native advertising is similar to an advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article. The intent is to make paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users clicking on it.

"Our constant feedback from advertisers is that the typical ad formats prevalent on the web and mobile today are flawed. Users tend to tune out advertising. As a result, click-through rates and engagement are trending downwards," said Verma, CEO & founder, Fork Media.

He added that this came as an opportunity to create seamless, brand-led content propositions that give advertisers longer-term engagement with their target audience.

With 16 people on board, Fork Media focuses on alternative revenue streams that can run parallel to the publisher's existing monetization efforts. It has also created a content marketing arm Thinktank, an in-house ideation, content creation and design cell.

Fork has two revenue streams. One is native advertising where it works with publishers to create synergies between brand and content. In the second model called formats, it works with publishers to create high impact ad formats that help drive better yields for both the publisher and advertiser, said Verma.

Set up in November last year, Ant Farm is kind of a hybrid startup platform that brings together people, helps in ideation or scaling up an existing idea and sees through its execution. Ant Farm is currently incubating four companies – Stylista, Arrive, Social Plug, Teach Cast – besides Fork Media. All the other firms are in stealth mode. Fork and Stylista were to come out of beta in January 2013 while Arrive as to go live by February, a source had earlier told  Techcircle.in. It seems its running behind schedule.

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