Attending events and conferences never go squander, especially when you get to meet few eminent personalities and build network with them. Founding members of YouWeCan Ventures, Yuvraj Singh and Nishant Singhal met Prashant Puri at a Digital Marketing Conference in India in August 2015. The trio discussed about the potential of social media landscape and its prospective future growth.
The discussion soon took the shape of a business idea where they wanted to leverage social media influencers by pairing them with brands to drive brand awareness and reach. That is how Yral (pronounced ‘viral’) was founded in January 2016.
By leveraging the social media network, Gurgaon-based Yral connects advertisers and celebrities providing the right audience and scalable reach to the advertisers. Getting hold of the right celebrity or influencer is not a tranquil task for the brands, whereas unprecedented reach and huge followers of celebrities on social remain underutilised. The trio decided to translate it into a business opportunity making it easier for the brands to get endorsed by celebrities.
The partnership with YouWeCan Ventures and AdLift fit seamlessly. AdLift is a global digital marketing firm that works closely with brands and advertisers, whereas Yuvraj’s expertise as a serial investor and “real” influencers helps broaden Yral’s celebrity reach,” says Prashant.
He is an alumnus from Columbia University and Co-founder of AdLift, which is headquartered in San Francisco Bay Area with offices in Gurgaon.
The founding team evidently sensed the gap between the current endorsements of celebrities and potential of the social media. According to Prashant, celebrity endorsements primary focus on offline events and TV with digital or social being a very small part of the muti-crore deal. Today, there are 150-175 million social media users in India. The top 50 celebrities averaging five million followers cover the entire gamut of social media users in India.
Yral works with brands and advertisers on specific campaigns based on brand’s needs and goals. It creates a campaign that leverages the right set of celebrities based on reach (which runs into millions), followers and demographics and storyboards the entire campaign. Once the approval process is over, the campaign goes live via celebrity social media platforms reaching the right set of audiences and building brand awareness.
In March this year, Yral did a campaign with HDFC ERGO to increase social media and brand presence across the general insurance vertical. HDFC ERGO has been endorsed by cricketers Shikhar Dhawan and Harbhajan Singh.
Since it was cricketing season – World Cup T20, all eyes were on the cricketers. We thought it would be best to leverage the top cricketers to endorse HDFC ERGO on social media. Yral worked on the creatives (based on the brand guidelines). We also worked with the cricketers to tweet/share about HDFC ERGO on their social media channels. Fan following of HDFC ERGO increased by 218 per cent in 10 days,” says Prashant.
According to Prashant, YouWeCan holds a minority stake and AdLift owns a majority stake in Yral. The startup is currently working with over more than 100 celebrities - actors, actresses, musicians, and cricketers.
Yral so far has completed three successful campaigns in the BFSI and consumer goods segment. The budget of the campaigns ranges from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 1 crore, and Yral keeps 10 to 15 percent of the commission. They rope in celebrities based on the budget of a particular brand. The startup is planning to make three to four campaigns live by October. With a team of 20 employees, Yral looks to increase the number of employees to 100 by 2017.
“Digital marketing spends are estimated to reach $2 billion by 2019. If celebrities lead only five percent, we estimate the market size to be $100 million. We plan to own 15-20 percent of this in the next two to three years,” says Prashant.
Given the strong impact celebrities have on people’s lives, brands today are increasingly banking on Bollywood fraternity to get endorsed. When it comes to augmenting the value of brand, companies never put restrictions on spending money. According to a report, the brand endorsement value of Amitabh Bachchan is Rs 2.5 crore per day, Amir Khan is Rs 5 to 7 crore a day, Aishwarya Rai is Rs 5 to 6 crores a day, Shah Rukh Khan is Rs 4 crores a day and Salman Khan is Rs 4 crores a day.
According to research firm Octane, nearly 73 percent of marketers in India plan to increase their digital marketing spend this year. And 61 percent of marketers intend to increase their spending on social media.
Startups leave no stone unturned to capitalise on the opportunities digital marketing have created so far. Gurgaon-based iCubes helps brands acquire and retain customers through web, mobile, email, videos and rich media. Indi.com enables both individuals and brands to create and monetise content, integrating multiple social networks. Dfizz makes digital marketing easy and accessible for startups and MSMEs. Blueshift is a provider of ‘Segment-of-one marketing automation’ solutions for consumer marketing companies.