These brothers started India’s only publicly-listed ad tech firm and landed Amazon.in, Godrej, Mahindra, and Cadbury as clients
With large scale internet penetration across the world, there are millions of websites, applications, and digital properties where brands can advertise. However, the process of choosing and utilising separate ad platforms and channels is time-consuming.
Programmatic advertising has emerged as a solution to this challenge. It is the automated buying and selling of online advertising that allows brands to easily access ad space for television, mobile, desktop, tablet, and more.
Brothers Ashish Shah (37) and Hiren Shah (38) have put in a lot of time, effort, and money into programmatic advertising, and it has paid off big time.
Their Brands of India award-winning ad tech firm Vertoz Advertising has developed and launched its own programmatic ad platform, ‘Ingenious Plex’. It uses codes and algorithms to match ad buyers with the right sellers, and consequently, with the right audience.
Ashish Shah (left) and Hiren Shah (right), co-founders, Vertoz Advertising
A new approach to advertising
“As opposed to the traditional methods of advertising, programmatic advertising minimises human intervention, thereby eliminating human error and increasing efficiency and speed,” says Ashish, who is Co-founder and CEO at Vertoz.
Ingenious Plex also leverages the strength of programmatic advertising in segmenting audiences so that brands have to only pay for ads delivered to the right people at the right time. This creates huge value for advertisers.
According to Ashish, this empowers advertisers with the ability to have niche targeting options. And Ingenious Plex has helped the brand land some truly big fish.
Vertoz's media planning offering on its programmatic advertising platform
Amazon.in, Godrej, Cadbury, and Mahindra are some of its major clients. Qatar Airways, Muthoot Finance, Colors HD, and Ozone Group are also clients
Vertoz has helped generate a number of leads for these clients. For instance, with Vertoz’s programmatic advertising services, Colors Bangla launched a new TV show and were able to promote it to Bengali speaking expats.
Vertoz also generated quality test drive enquiries for Mahindra KUV100. Its work for Muthoot Finance involved campaign management and leveraging multiple advertising platforms to generate leads.
Business set up
The brothers did all of this in an incredibly short time span of seven years; Vertoz was started in Mumbai in 2012 after Ashish and Hiren wanted to explore various possibilities in digital advertising.
It evolved into a global company with offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, San Francisco, London, and Dubai.
Last year, it recorded a Rs 36.84 crore turnover and employs over 130 people.
With its global headquarters in Mumbai, Vertoz has five other offices across the globe
Ashish, who leads the company’s product development and technology strategy, adds, “Our global headquarters are based in Mumbai, while the international operations are headquartered out of New York. With this setup, we witnessed a phenomenal year-on-year growth of around 81.45 percent in FY18, and 87.5 percent growth in profits in the last financial year.”
Vertoz is also India’s first and only publicly-listed ad-tech company.
Ashish adds, “We had a highly successful IPO in 2017, which was oversubscribed 4.24 times. We got listed on NSE Emerge and the price for the public issue of 15.84 lakh equity shares was fixed at Rs 108 per share.”
The founders say they believe in providing complete transparency to their investors. They attribute this as the reason why they chose to go for public funding over private funding. “Being public listed helps us to earn our investors’ trust and maintain it throughout,” Ashish adds.
In 2013, the brothers saw advertisers struggling with unclear campaign reports, mandatory commitments for spending a fixed amount on online properties, and a lack of targeting options. Ingenious Plex was designed as a programmatic advertising solution to address these challenges, Ashish says.
Advertisers who use Ingenious Plex pay only for the set of impressions shown to audiences for whom that particular set of impressions are relevant.
This translates to a ‘pay-as-you-use’ model with no subscription or minimum fees. Ingenious Plex also customises ad delivery to Indian consumers by adding features and analysing existing consumers to locate similar audiences.
Vertoz's creatives management tool as part of its programmatic advertising platform
Ashish says, “We are creating custom audience segments relevant to the products or services being marketed. Having integrated with a Data Management Platform, Ingenious Plex uses an advanced machine learning (ML) algorithm to find the best solution to contribute to lifetime user value, instead of one extra user in the brand’s CRM (customer relationship management).”
Through programmatic advertising, the platform lets advertisers measure the performance of their campaigns through granular campaign reports and optimise their campaigns to get maximum returns. Ashish believes this sets Vertoz apart from traditional advertising players and gives the brothers an edge over others.
Ashish’s brother Hiren, who is co-founder and chairman at Vertoz, says, “Apart from our product, our key attributes and traits of our leadership style also distinguish us from others. We believe in a transformational leadership by inspiring our entire team towards the common goal of growing into a leading ad tech and programmatic advertising company.”
But growth is challenging in the highly dynamic advertising industry. Hiren believes that in order to survive, an ad tech firm must be updated with the latest happenings, trends and upcoming technologies in the sector.
“It is challenging but one must understand the current industry cue and predict future trends in order to be constantly ahead of the curve,” he says, adding, “This is exactly what we did, and still do. We continuously upgrade our products and endeavor to provide clients with the best-in-class technological solutions.”
With the programmatic advertising market in its nascent stage in India, Vertoz is an early mover. And the brothers maintain that market conditions are conducive for Vertoz’s long term growth.
Hiren says, “Programmatic advertising has already established a firm hold in Western markets, and the same is expected to mirror in India soon. Segments such as FMCG, healthcare, entertainment, commerce, travel, and auto are leading in programmatic advertising spends.”
As part of the growth plan, the company is open to working with any business that wishes to reach a certain kind of audience. He says, “Currently, India is on the verge of a digital revolution, and so, being an entrepreneur in this space is quite rewarding. We have the opportunity to make an impact on society, to offer solutions to the problems of your customers, to enrich their lives, and to create more job opportunities in the market.”