Talking with Ehsan Omrani, it is possible that some creative ideas to be successful in our country and some cannot be successful! Some have effort and perseverance and some money and some just ideas! The way to shape a social, economic, or cultural project from A to Z and to examine successful examples in this field was a topic that we considered at the time of starting universal Ted's discussion. Currently, many print media and even Broadcasting Organization have lost their function due to the appearance of new social networks and the large functions of mass media. The period of expediency of media administrators for the audience is ended. It is time that the audience chooses information and news and share them, and accordingly, possibly, examining the domestic examples of these social networks, the way of their formation and interaction is able to open a new horizon for creative minds and even traditional media owners who are not accustomed to modernization. The content in the following part has resulted from our conversation with Ehsan Omrani (Vice President of Marketing of Sabaidea Collection), who could launch Iranian YouTube and ...
We talk about ideation and such an environment is less considered in our country and there are limited individuals and companies that operate in this field and we want to examine the reasons. For example, we have Ted abroad, but it is not possible to provide it here, we do not have people to operate in this field, nor groups that have such concerns. Aparat, for example, how did such thought-form to do a collective work? Is this inventing an Iranian thought? Or has it been adapted? Can we institutionalize this kind of work in the social fields?
Aparat started operating in 2010. Our team and even the members of the board of directors are young. The year 2010 concurred with the filtering of the YouTube site in Iran and the state of the internet infrastructure also was inappropriate. It was unbelievable for people to observe a video file over the Internet, which is a heavy file and needs a minimum internet speed. Happily, the situation has been currently much better. The situation has been significantly improved in the last two to three years, and the situation of the Internet has been much better. I state this issue as an expert and I do not talk about political issues. When we decided to establish an online platform, many of our friends who operated in the field and recognized the country's IT field stated, "Do not start economic work that cannot be successful." It was so unimaginable. But we have a research team that examines carefully the market's situation before starting any project or developing current projects. Our research at that time revealed that the global market tends towards multimedia applications, particularly video. On the other hand, our research reveals that the state of the Internet and its infrastructure is improving and the Internet's state will be improved in the future.
YouTube was available in the world, but I previously stated that it was not available to the people in Iran, consequently, we decided to start Aparat. We had specific approaches from the beginning and wanted to have a native UGC platform, which stands for user-generated video content, which means people create content themselves, content that they either created themselves or produced in other places and people share it. We aimed to satisfy the needs of society and create a healthy and safe video platform, which means, a platform that adheres to the values of our society, and an Iranian family can easily allow its children to use it without worries and concerns.
It is obvious that the original idea was similar to YouTube, but we believe that it is not forbidden to use the ideas available in the world and is not deemed a weakness. When the wheel was invented; we are not obligated to consume time and energy in order to invent it again. It is possible to optimize and expand the same wheel and add some advantages to make it operate smoother. We had the same initial idea, but we had different visions that have set in the beginning and have adhered to them. We have tried to provide rich native content to the people. I can bravely say that if YouTube is not currently banned, people will still select the domestic option and will continue to use it. Because there is a rich resource of native content on Aparat that you cannot find anywhere else, exclusive content that is produced and distributed. We currently have 30 active programmers who produce the program and display it during the week. These programs include various fields; the field of music, cinema, religion, social, women, sports, etc., we have also established some content for the first time in Iran and the world. For example, we have originated a campaign called "Iranian Wonders for two years ago". It is possible to observe a series of activities that we have done a lot of advertising for them in this campaign. We aimed in this campaign to nourish the talent of people who did not have frequently good financial situations and lived mostly in cities and wanted to be recognized and be successful. We received 8,000 videos from all over the country in these two years, even in isolated villages. Finally, most of our winners were from the cities, because they were more passionate and interested. We selected these people both by the jury and popular vote. Participants have experienced great events during the two years that we have been administering this campaign. For example, one of our judges was a famous director of Iran, and he selected 10 of these people for his series. Or these people were invited to one of the TV programs and introduced as Iranian talents. In short, we have attempted to design our platform for the Iranian audience and within the framework of the country's laws, and thanks to God, we have achieved a good position and have an established position among the people.
- Is it possible now to compare you with media like TV or do you have a better situation than the national media?
7 million successful videos are displayed daily in Aparat, which means that a video is run by the audience and is considered a successful show after viewing a certain amount of it, this statistic is different from the page views. An audience may open a page but do not watch a video, accordingly, it is not considered as a statistic of viewing. Aparat allocates about 10% of the total internet traffic in the country and we are currently the largest player in the field of broadband in the country. The application of this service has been installed more than 5.5 million times. Our upload statistics are about 7,000 videos daily.
- Have you been active in the field of infrastructure, and other fields? Is the satisfaction of your audience significant to you or not?
Yes. For instance, we have tried to facilitate internet communication and decrease the cost of internet via the efforts of the infrastructure company. I would like to appreciate the government for this cooperation. I appreciate separate from political issues. I talk like an expert. This action of the government is in agreement with my expertise, consequently, I consider it and appreciate the government. The government has set up traffic exchange centers in the country entitled “IXP" and accordingly, it will be possible that internet costs on the Aparat to be soon reduced. This issue will considerably affect the improvement of our collection and the audience's satisfaction level. Currently, our audience can watch videos faster. These measures and of course, the grace of God have made Aparat recognized as the most successful Iranian service.
We talk about the past, we recognize companies and people in the world who started from zero, which means, they have had ideas but have not had the required capital and the proper conditions have been created and succeeded during the time. Was Aparat one of the same ideas?
Yes. Of course, we should talk about the situations even before Aparat. Aparat is a subsidiary of a larger brand called Sabaidea. In Sabaidea, ideas such as Club, Mihan Blog, Lenzor, etc. have been implemented. We raised the idea of Aparat when our company had a club and Mihanblog, consequently, we had a certain amount of traffic. The club was so popular at that time that it is not as popular now. It is essential to state the reason to reduce this popularity before talking about the formation of Aparat. The main reason to reduce the popularity of the club was a lot of pressure on this service. The club is a kind of Iranian social network. Our audience would come and write some content and this is a feature of a social network, and because we observed the laws of the Islamic Republic in our operation, when we received a report on illegal content, we deleted it, similar to Aparat. But there were too many strictures at that time and some of them were unnormal. It is remarkable that sometimes, an external service cannot be blocked and cannot be entirely eliminated, but too much pressure will be imposed on a local service, because of these strictures, people's trust in the club was decreased. When people observed that their content was removed and was not well-publicized, they preferred to enter the service less. However, we decided to originate Aparat at that time, based on the popularity of these two services, Club and Mihanblog, and their traffic support. It is required also to mention that we did not have good financial support at that time. Later, we used traffic support in our next services, such as Filimo service, which established based on the most advanced technologies in the world and is a service to display and broadcast movies and series. We constantly use the added value created by our past services at our company and grow our next service.
- What is your perspective? What is Aparat's competitor in the field of media? And what position do you want to achieve in the future?
Video is the best method to convey a message around the world because of its multimedia nature, and the world is becoming video-visual media. There is no competitor in the country for us. We have not determined our perspective based on the competition, even with foreign services. Our perspective is to be the largest entertainment and information base in the country and to operate in the region at the next level in neighboring countries, etc. If it is realized, it can also spread our culture, because our content is fully shared by Iranian users. We desire people have the ability to share their content freely and without any obstacle by observing the framework of the country's laws.
The question arises is, how does the government deal with novel ideas like Aparat? A government that, for instance, has had club experience and has imposed restrictions on it.
On the one hand, popular services cannot be simply out of reach. On the first day, if there was such intentions, it would be feasible, but now it's not that easy with that popularity. On the other hand, we don't have any issues with Aparat right now. I like to mention these issues because if someone has an idea, they must know that they have to fight for success. My words are not merely academic, it is the things which we encounter on a daily basis. We are now gladiators who have drawn swords and have been fighting for years, these words arise from the middle of battlefield.
If you have an idea which you hope for success in our country, you ought to go in the middle of the field from the beginning and stand up to the issues. The issues which are external may also be due to your own work and idea. If you sit down and start working in the hope which the ideal situations will arise, you can't really commence your economic career. It is not even possible to plan accurately in advance to deal with these issues in our country, or to sit in the hope of lobbying and networking, to draw swords, to go in the middle of the field and find solutions during the fight.
For instance, we don't have filtering on content, hence we have issues on the one hand, and on the other hand, due to this method, people trust us. I believe that when people understand that a service operates within the rules, they see it themselves. Therefore, there are always issues with each service and there are people who are going to be problematic. The way we determine and remove illegal content is the way people report. We don't have the capability to review this volume of content which is daily shared. We are a team of 100 people. Many may not believe that this number of forces can manage services with this volume of information and visits. In reality, it is our audience who report illegal content to us and take action to delete them. About 27 million Iranian users visit Aparat per month. Why do these people report unauthorized content? The reason is easy, when people have a space where they feel free, they are not willing to lose it at all which is why they themselves stop a few which are problematic. Hence, the same approach has caused us trouble. Thus, we are never willing to change our ways. We have institutions in every field in the country to your heart. We have a challenge with these institutions and, for instance, they want content removed. We are responsible in front of our audience and do not delete content regarding the report of irresponsible entities. Instances committee is the only entity regarded a legal authority. For this reason, and the tasteful attitudes of unrelated institutions, many times challenges arise and we should explain them many times. The point is that these challenges are not caused by breaking the rules, but due to many interpretations which everyone has of the law. On the other hand, these challenges have made our service a live and courageous service. We don't simply go under the burden of removing content that people have shared.
- What if you encounter excessive pressures one day as your past experience? Do you have a method to relieve pressure based on previous experience?
No. We don't have a solution, and I just hope that doesn't happen. Thus, I think the governance process and decision-making are very positive. In the past three years, society has become more open than ever before. Neither can governments stand up to special problems which are the demands of the people. For instance, how can the government force people not to apply messaging software? People have access and utilize it simply. Aparat has very good situations due to popular status and management team. Our team is one of country's elite, they could have left the country like so many others, but they have stayed and launched a successful service. The real question is, why must such issues happen to them?
- The significant question is how is the Aparat collection managed? What is your management system in which creativity has not gone away?
In my idea, there is a very significant element in any collection, regardless of their kind of activity, that when the personnel come to work, they come with love. They'd like to come to work. Our collection has always designed its planning and working environment so that such conditions can be realized. I dare say all my colleagues work with love. The major reason for our success and the loss of creativity is this factor. We don't limit people to sit at a desk. We ask them for optimal output. When there is this friendly atmosphere and a good sense of working and people come together due to their passion for their common goal, things are actually getting better day by day. In our workplace, sometimes creative ideas are mentioned that our executive capabilities do not permit us to address, otherwise they are very valuable ideas.
- You noted that you design and run various campaigns, if an organization like Red Crescent wants to design a campaign for it and indicate it on your service which has a lot of visits, what must this organization do, for instance, voluntary activities and social participation?
We hold meetings with relevant organizations, and ideas and designs come from both sides to design social responsibility campaigns. After these meetings, we get to the final idea and planning and implementation is performed.
- Apart from your own services, those who want to perform an idea in the novel society should require capital and may not have first capital, are there any private entities or companies to invest?
Yes. We have investors in the country. Hence, we ourselves were hardly able to grow because we didn't have investors, but we're happy with these situations. In my idea, people who have a novel business idea do not rush to attract investors. The selection of an investor is so significant. Investors are only thinking about profits and may divert the idea from its path. That's why I tell they don't rush to look for investors and develop their own opinions as much as they can.