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We expect AdVoice’s reach to grow to 400 mn mobile consumers in 2018: Dennis Oudejans

AdVoice has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming the largest Mobile Audio Ad Network in the world, starting with a focus on the emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Incepted in the year 2015, AdVoice is headquartered in Dubai, with operations in India (Mumbai, Bangalore and Gurgaon) and Nigeria (Lagos). 

AdVoice replaces the Ringback tone, the tone that people hear while making a phone call, with an audio ad (AdRBT). As per the estimates, 6 billion people make 25 billion mobile calls daily, generating an AdRBT inventory that is unrivalled and untapped. The network endeavours to address the vacuum created by low share of mobile audio advertising, despite nearly 100 per cent mobile phone penetration. In practice, the brand leverages mobile phone penetration and the simplicity of mobile audio advertising via AdRBT. 

For measuring ROI, AdVoice provides brands and agencies with online access to campaign reports and analytics. The data is powered by reputed telco systems and advertisers can view and measure their reach to users in real-time. Already reaching over 70 million unique phone users in India, AdVoice expects to cross the 200-million mark soon. 

In conversation with Adgully, Dennis Oudejans, CEO of AdVoice, speaks at length about the mobile network’s journey so far, the growth strategy for 2018, the differentiating factors and much more. Excerpts: 

How has the journey so far been for AdVoice?
The journey has been great, thus far, for AdVoice. We launched our India operations in December 2016. Ever since, we have grown to be the largest mobile audio advertising network in the country. Our current monthly reach is 90 million unique consumers. Furthermore, we have been successful in partnering with premier telco, Airtel, and expect to announce further tie-ups with Indian mobile operators shortly. The same will take our addressable audience to numbers that resemble that of Facebook and YouTube, albeit different demographics and different ad experiences. We are present across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and are witnessing a strong uptake from leading local and international brands. 

What are the challenges that you have faced in this market and how are you tackling them?
To coincide the launch of a company with a demonetisation programme is not something I would recommend to start-ups. Economic policies aside, the biggest challenge was always going to be the adoption of a new advertising format. Contrary to popular belief, most media agencies and marketers behave conservatively. They tend to stick to what they know and to what they believe has worked for them and their clients. 

We have positioned AdVoice as an alternative format to radio, albeit one with targeting capabilities and transparent ad delivery measurability. Innovative early adopters from particularly the FMCG, e-Commerce and automotive industries were supported to reach a wider number of listeners at a cost per unique consumer that is up to 90 per cent below that of radio advertising. 

What have been the key developments in terms of business and technology?
Seeing as AdVoice plays ads over both smartphones and feature phones, we expect the reach to grow to 400 million mobile consumers in the course of 2018, giving advertisers eardrums from busy metropolitans, as well as from people living in the media dark rural areas. Additionally, we are planning to enhance already impressive data analytics, re-targeting functionality and concepts that provides last-mile advertising through the large distribution networks of FMCGs. 

Which are the factors responsible for AdVoice’s successful journey?
At AdVoice, we have been addressing the vacuum created by low share of mobile audio advertising, despite nearly 100 per cent mobile phone penetration. The AdRBT format utilised by AdVoice is here to grow. As per the estimates, 6 billion people globally make 25 billion mobile calls daily, generating an AdRBT inventory that is unrivalled and untapped. In addition, AdVoice is currently present in India and Nigeria, countries with some of the highest populations in Asia and Africa, respectively. Lastly, the venture has the backing of investors and entrepreneurs who have a long and successful history in Telecommunications and Fintech sectors in emerging markets. With ChannelVAS, its parent company, recently attracting a Rs 340 crore investment, AdVoice is primed for growth, powered by the right technology, market access and backing up of industry veterans. 

What are the types of brands that are looking to advertise through the platform?
AdRBT is suited for advertisers who want to communicate on a large scale. Whereas this media is effective for brand building, promotions and retargeting via storyboarding, AdVoice has call-to-action capabilities too, upon which offers are sent via SMS and OBD. Innovative marketers from FMCG, Automotive, E-Commerce and BFSI, among others, as well as Government and NGOs have taken AdVoice on board their media plans. Interestingly, we see a strong interest from local India brands. Knowing the communication challenges only too well, we enjoy support from them for an ad format that made its global debut here. 

How can users benefit from of the platform?
Users, in this context, are the telecoms’ subscribers who have opted-in for its Reward Tunes programme. These users permit AdVoice’s ads to be played to their callers. As these subscribers benefit from free airtime for every ad that is played, each advertiser, in a way, helps them to reduce their phone bill. 

Going forward, what would be your key focus areas and markets?
As I have said earlier, AdVoice is currently present in India (Asia) and Nigeria (Africa). We expect to expand into other sizeable ad markets in these continents, as well as in the Middle East and Latin America. If the plans are properly executed, we will grow into a Mobile Audio Ad Network that potentially reaches more than 25 per cent of the earth’s population by the end of 2018. This would offer large multinationals the kind of scale to run pan-regional campaigns, whilst providing inclusion of telcos into the mobile advertising eco-system. 

What does the road ahead look like? What are the trends that you foresee in 2018?
We intend to scale up such that we enable advertisers to reach any target group in any corner of India. We want to gain their trust by being measurable and transparent. AdVoice aims to be a supportive partner that contributes to campaign objectives in a manner that we become a line-item in the majority of media plans again and again and again. 

On a ‘grander’ scale, it is interesting to philosophise about the possibilities of audio advertising over futuristic channels such as streaming music services, digital assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, Connected Cars, and the Internet of Things, all of which will be voice response driven. 

As far as trends are concerned, I believe that mobile advertising will continue to rise sharply, but that the industry will become more responsible in terms of offering higher quality ads in consumer-friendly formats and in a manner that will give more control and transparency to advertisers. As for digital audio advertising, I believe that this is where video advertising was some 5-6 years ago and it’s definitely the space where AdVoice intends to operate.

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