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Coming 18-24 months to be a defining time for digital: Arun Gupta

MoMagic, a mobile advertising and marketing firm, recently fortified its operations with the acquisition of AdGyde Solutions, a mobile app insight provider, from JV partner Spice Mobility. The acquisition is with an eye on MoMagic’s focus on big data analytics and artificial intelligence. 

MoMagic bagged the coveted Mobile Marketing Excellence Awards at the recently held MOBEXX Awards 2018. 

Further MoMagic is also releasing a report on ‘Lifestyle Insight of App Users in India’, which includes exciting and unique trends in the app sector in India. It gives statistics about the number of Mobile Applications used by users (segregating Male/ Female audiences) and focuses on the three fast emerging categories of News, Social and Gaming Apps. 

With MediaTek and Foxconn as its strategic partners, MoMagic has been investing in setting up a business and R&D base in Taiwan. Within 7+ years of its existence, MoMagic has built up a successful e-commerce venture in Bangladesh along with having the credit of launching fairly successful products, and the claim to reach to every third mobile user in the Indian market. 

In conversation with Adgully, Arun Gupta, CEO & Founder, MoMagic, speaks at length about the current mobile tech trends, the future road map for his company and more. Excerpts: 

How much of the spends do you think is going into mobile marketing within the Digital Ad Tech space, as more and more brands factor in digital advertising into their overall marketing budgets?
I think, currently around 55-60 per cent is going into mobile from within the digital ad budgets, if we factor in the user acquisition budgets allocated by companies into it as well. Today, we see subsidiaries, SBUs being set up in leading media houses and agencies, dealing solely with the mobile branding and outreach mandates, including user acquisition and lead generation requirements. Brands’ demand for mobile outreach marketing is increasing by the day, and the requirement will move towards more and more personalised and customised mobile campaigns. One of the key reasons for this, in the Indian context, is also the fact that people in India are hardly using PCs; hence, it is all about smartphones, even though feature phones still hold 60 per cent of the market. 

Could you share your journey ever since your association with mobile technology from the mid-90s, as well as the shift from technology to business and entrepreneurship?
I got into the mobile industry in 1998. My professional journey started as programmer in the early 90s and I turned an entrepreneur with MoMagic in 2011. Before starting MoMagic, I was heading the South Asian market for MediaTek. It was around the same time that Indian manufacturers had started gaining market share and one saw a need gap for R&D support to the manufacturers and that’s how MoMagic was formed. 

Like any business, you start with some dreams, but when you get into it, you get to know the reality, and that is what happened with MoMagic too. By the late 2011-12, Android had become de-facto, hence whatever we thought we would make our services help them differentiate in the market, it was already available. That was when we tweaked our mandate and started to help the inset companies to monetise their hardware. We facilitated differential surveys to the inset companies, which helped them to create some sort of differentiation in their product and it eventually helped them to monetise their hardware, and that is how we got defined as a tech solution provider to the inset companies. 

Technology was and shall always be MoMagic’s core and we kept on adding solutions/ products to our portfolio over the years. We have our own OS upgrade solution. We have been sort of a leader having first mover advantage in providing the offline and side-load distribution content in the market. The setting up of the R&D centre in Taiwan in 2017 was in line with the company’s core philosophy of being recognised as a product/ tech company offering services and solutions for different verticals – be it ad tech today or CRM in the coming years. The second important reason was the strategy to penetrate the South Asian market. 

Mobile technology and offerings have undergone a sea change and in my opinion, the next 18-24 months will be very defining in the digital (and mobile) space. Those who will manage to be competitive during the next 18-24 months will be the ones to go for the long run and that’ll be a handful of them. 

Who are your competitors in the Indian market?
As of today, our biggest competitors are Google and Facebook, because they are the ones who are technically riding on the entire ad tech budget in the market (and eating away all the money). On the other hand, if you ask in terms of the companies in the same ecosystem, on ground, technically speaking, we work more like a collaborator with most of them rather than as a competitor. There are 2 aspects of the ad tech business – the advertiser side and the publisher side. We belong to the publisher side. 

Could you give us a sense of who all are publishers and who are the advertisers?
Publishers are platforms like The Times of India, etc., while the advertisers will be players like Inmobi. If an advertiser needs publishers, they may go to The Times of India, however, for MoMagic, technically, the OEMs are our primary publishers. What I mean is that our way of creating publishers has been very different from the traditional market approach; we have had strong alliances with OEMs and handset companies since our early days, hence it gives a strong edge to us. The other aspect is the fact that we work with a lot of people in the offline market, hence the way we approach a mandate is different. From a business perspective, all these players – be it The Times of India (from the publishers’ aspect) or Inmobi (from the advertisers’ aspect) – could be defined as collaborators for MoMagic, simply because of the way we approach the business. 

From MoMagic’s inception till date, what have been the 5 developments that you have done in the market?
The impacting developments are:

  • Successful and recognisable transition of MoMagic from offering software differentiation business for mobile handset companies in 2011-12 to being AI and Big Data intelligence driven, leading online user acquisition – a digital marketing platform with data mining and technological prowess as its key USPs.
  • Expanding to the markets in South Asia and South East Asia such as Bangladesh, Taiwan, etc.
  • Launch of Pickaboo in Bangladesh, which today is the amongst the Top 2 platforms in the country.
  • Setting up the APAC R&D and Business Operation Center in Taipei, Taiwan
  • Having 400+ employees, inclusive of 70+ data intelligence, AI & Marketing experts in Asia.
  • Recognised as one of the leading Indian companies in the Digital Ad Tech and Mobile Marketing space; having 126+ million unique users; reaching every third mobile user, offering comprehensive user acquisition channels.

Other than these, the most fundamental and core is the philosophy of having infused transparent, fair and honest business practices across the organisation from top to bottom. Strong adaptability to changing market dynamics and technology prowess, along with customer orientation and commitment to excellence, which have also helped MoMagic’s growth and profitable sustenance despite the stiff competition. 

What trends do you see in the mobile tech, e-commerce and entertainment sectors in 2019?
Frankly speaking, business in 2019 will continue to be tough and will keep burning the pockets. Whoever is able to survive 2019, will be important. As of now, nobody is making money. Either you need to live on someone’s money or survive on your own money; blood bath will continue in 2019. Economic downturn will occur worldwide soon. People will be cautious in putting their money. Though it may not be as bad as 2008, but it will happen. 

If we talk about mobile tech, e-commerce and entertainment sectors, these will continue to see the investment and technological innovations, with the world getting completely smitten by the digital revolution. However, in terms of garnering the revenues, it will take time. We will be seeing a lot more consolidation. 

Video streaming alongside AI and ML, etc., will gain more and more prominence for companies to be in the market. It will move towards a complete data driven world with technological advancement at one end of the spectrum to creativity-human intelligence at the other end. Increased personalisation, localisation – be it in terms of the content being developed or be it marketing and branding, will gain ground. 

Going forward, what is your vision for the company?
Our primary focus will be South East Asia, as of now. We need to make ourselves ready before we plan to enter the US and UK markets. It may take few years to enter these markets. 

With fast-paced changes in the market, technology and customer dynamics, being a mobile and tech driven company we need to be always geared up to cater to the changing dynamics. This is the reason why we have been making changes in our business offerings, technology and strategy every 2 years. Though many things will change, the needs of users, data and analysis will remain the same. While the concept or approach may change, the product need will remain the same. At MoMagic, we will continue following the philosophy of being innovative, developing our prowess in the mobile technology offerings and continue to have our grip on end user data insights. 

Going forward, we will continue to provide the MoMagic edge in facilitating quality user acquisition. We will continue to play a key role in the mobile ad tech ecosystem and be known as a successful technology/ product company from the Indian sub-continent.

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