They are an integral part of our cityscape – on our way to work, when we are shopping, or just out for a stroll. We can’t miss the hoardings, from traditional vinyl billboards to flashy digital ones. Though they grab our eyeballs, how many of these do we actually find relevant? Probably, very few.
One startup is trying to address this gap, by using technology to make the messaging more effective and efficient for companies and relevant for audiences in a first-of-its-kind digital avenue for India.
Short for Advertising on Motion or Mobile, AdOnMo was started in 2016 by Sravanth Gajula and Sandeep Bommireddi. The duo is joined by Krishna Chaitanya Bommakanti, a passionate hardcore engineer as the co-founder, followed by Aditya Patwardhan as Tech lead and Garlapati Suraj as the Sales lead.
Sravanth, who is also the Co-Founder, says, “Online digital advertising has grown leaps and bounds in the last two decades. But, just look at outdoor advertising. But, just look at outdoor advertising. Age-old hoardings and billboards are still used at a time when people are discussing Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Virtual Reality. We believe there is a lot of scope for tech intervention here, which is largely unexplored.”
The Hyderabad based startup provides intelligent outdoor advertising solutions by mounting digital screens atop cabs and outdoor screens. Using a combination of proprietary hardware and patented software, the ads can be controlled by location, time, and multiple other factors, enabling AdOnMo to play contextual and relevant ads for their clients.
An IIT Indore alumni and a former Microsoft engineer who was the youngest patent inventor at its India Development CenterSandeep leads the product development effort at AdOnMo. According to him, “AdOnMo is not like other existing OOH solutions. The difference is the integration of technology in outdoor advertising. And when we say technology, it’s not limited to using high quality LED displays, but a combination of an app, AdPlay control systems, hyperlocal intelligence systems, analytics and rich dashboards. By integrating these technologies, we enable real-time communication and data gathering, which is pivotal to making outdoor advertising contextual, relevant, and effective.”
After starting up in June 2016, it took six months for the team to work on a prototype. They did their first on-field test with five cabs in April 2017. After improving the solution, AdOnMo did an initial launch with 40 cabs in Hyderabad, and increased to 100 cabs by the end of the year. The team has integrated computer vision, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into their offering to analyse and understand consumer behaviour. Sravanth says, “While we made significant progress on this front, there's still a lot of road to cover.”
AdOnMo is aiming to hit 1,000 cabs by mid-2018. They also want to begin engagement with OOH fixed screens, and expand to other cities in the next two years.
Armed with a double-masters (MS and MBA) degree, a gold medal for Bachelors and the ISB Young leader award, Sravanth leads strategy, operations and marketing at AdOnMo. He says, “With over 20 clients now, our revenue generation has been an upward curve. More clients are realising how an innovative medium like AdOnMo can make a difference in their brand promotion campaigns.” AdOnMo already has big names in their clientele -- Treebo, FirstCry, Star Hospitals and CII, among others. The Co-Founder, says, “For the last two quarters we have seen fast-paced growth. Our month-on-month revenue growth has been around 20 percent.”
Sravanth understands that providing flexibility in pricing is not just a good business decision but will also help smaller companies. He says, “Our solution costs only a fraction of traditional outdoor advertising avenues. Plus, the flexibility of changing ads by a single click is another USP that adds value for our clients.”
Once the businesses decide on the spend, target locations and time slots for the display, the AdOnMo team takes over and does the rest – from designing the creatives, to tracking the ads live and steering the ads to the apt audience. Sravanth says, “With every engagement, we also suggest the best possible recommendations in terms of their ad design, locations, and times to advertise. But we let them have the final say and design their own flexible packages to suit their needs.”
The biggest challenge for the team was to build the prototype. Sandeep says, “We had to get both our software and hardware right. We had to make our product waterproof and shockproof and robust enough for the Indian roads. We had multiple iterations of the first product before arriving at the current product.”
It is here that Dell has played the role of a silent yet supportive partner in their journey. Sravanth says, “The first line of code of our software was written on a Dell laptop.” Today, the tech team works on Dell laptops, coding and enhancing their software and adding cool features to the product. The reliability of the devices is what made the team choose Dell. “For managing simple, day-to-day tasks, we wanted a sturdy, reliable and easy-to-use laptop that was priced reasonably. That’s where Dell was a perfect fit.”
The 10-member AdOnMo team are like any other startup when it comes to juggling between multiple roles. And their Dell laptops have been the perfect multi-tasking partner, Sravanth adds.
The team says there are several infrastructural and policy related issues that they encounter on a daily basis, for instance lack of clarity on the permissible brightness of digital ads in purview of road safety, “It is good to see startups, global companies, and the government coming together to partner to defy the odds and build a product ecosystem in India,” they add.