The number of mobile phones in India outnumber the number of desktops and computers. Mary Meeker mentioned that India has been the country with the most new internet users this year. Also, according to another report by IAMAI and KPMG, India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world, and is set to reach 314 million mobile internet users by 2017.
Thus, mobile advertising may be the next major avenue that advertisers and brands should focus on. Compared to other modes of advertising, smartphones can gather more of the relevant data points about users’ habits and preferences that brands are keen to learn about. This also opens up a big market for native advertising. Adstore is positioning itself as a marketplace for users to discover full-fledged ads from brands, and also get compensated in the process.
What is it?
Through Adstore, users watch and discover movie trailers, YouTube channel promos and web-centric video ads. The videos are typically around two to three minutes in length,and have a storyline. After watching the ad, users need to answer a round of MCQs, or a poll. Adstore calls this their USP. An analysis of this questionnaire is provided to the advertisers. This is invaluable information, coming as it does from the users’ perspective. This helps the brand with marketing analyses and market research. Users in return are gratified with vouchers from brands like Flipkart, FreeCharge, McDonald's etc.
The startup was co-founded by high school friends Naren Budhwani (CEO) and Piyush Dhakan (COO), who were born and brought up in Dubai. Naren shifted to Mumbai to pursue his graduation at NMCCE while Piyush stayed back in Dubai to study at Middlesex University. At university, Naren was debarred from writing his exams in his first year, for falling short on attendance. With a year to idle away, he moved back to Dubai and founded a foodstuff-trading company, which provided bakery ingredients to five-star hotels. But, due to pressure from his parents, he returned to Mumbai to continue his graduation.
Piyush started an online portal for customized mobile covers with one of his friends during his second year of college. But it phased out over time, and they realized that there wasn’t much potential for e-commerce in Dubai. He then moved to Mumbai after graduating, to start Adstore. Naren dropped out of college to join him. The team currently consists of six members. Naren and another employee handle technology, while Piyush and the other employees look after business development and growth.
Adstore’s business model revolves around cost per view (CPV). Naren added, “We work on unique views as of now. The desired number of views is decided on by the advertiser before the video is uploaded on the app. Once that number of views is achieved, the video disappears automatically from the app.”
They charge advertisers between Rs. 1.5 and Rs. 7 per unique view. This varies depending on aspects such as duration of the ad, the number of questions to be asked to the user (they have limited it to 3 questions, as of now), and the visibility of the advertisement on the app.
Story so far
Adstore is currently bootstrapped, and is looking to raise a round of angel investment soon. They have acquired 8500+ registered users so far and claim that about 65% of these have been active users, visiting the app thrice a week on an average. Naren adds
Being a startup, everyday has taught us something new. Different challenges come up from time to time. Hiring talent has been one of our biggest challenges. With startups receiving huge amounts of funding, salaries for employees in startups have reached a new level. This is an issue we face quite regularly.
Adstore found that their audience at the moment are of the age group of 16-25. They have plans of bringing users from different age groups on board, in the pipeline. They are also developing their iOS app, and plan to launch it soon.Others in the sector
While Google, Yahoo and other tech giants dominate advertising on the web, mobile advertising is still in its nascent stages, with no clear winner. Google is currently in the lead, though.
InMobi is one of the biggest players in this field. They recently launched Miip, which shifts traditional mobile advertising into a more contextual and relevant ad format. Another player in this space is Airloyal, which claimed to be growing at 240% M-o-M in terms of revenues, in Janurary, 2015. Naren adds: “Some of the other competitors in this sector are GET by TATA, and MAD launched by Micromax. But there are certain things that differentiate us from them. They reward users for watching an ad before the user makes a call. This somehow becomes forceful.”
What we liked
The app has a pleasing user interface, with videos segmented into different categories, such as e-commerce, electronics, automobiles etc. On the homepage, users can track trending videos under 'Top Paid' and 'Top Viewed', and can also ‘Favourite’ videos to add to their watchlist to view later. As a consumer who doesn't watch much television and skips ads on YouTube, I found Adstore an interesting portal on which to discover brand stories and get coupons and in-app credits.What could be improved?
A feature we would like to see included is the ability to follow categories of interest, and get updates or push notifications when a new video is released. In the cash out or coupon redemption section, I found the range of vouchers limited, and in one instance found that one of those vouchers was available for free offline. So providing more interesting and diverse vouchers would add to the appeal.
People are likely to share content they have just watched and liked, so introducing social features such as the ability to comment below the video or share it across social media channels such as facebook, twitter, or whatsapp may help the app grow organically at a faster pace.
On the whole, Adstore is an interesting platform on which to discover video advertisements. Users are often turned off by the shorter, more promotional ads that appear during short breaks on TV or YouTube. So the fact that Adstore has restricted themselves to only ads with storylines adds to the stickiness of the app. It will be interesting to see how they scale and brings more users and advertisers on to their platform.
Website Link : Adstore
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