Anuj Khanna Sohum, Founder Affle India is a serial entrepreneur with over 18 years of experience in his kitty. Sohum is known for building and nurturing three innovative tech companies.
In conversation with Social Samosa, Sohum shares Affle’s journey over the years, how the company aced the game in 2018, their acquisition strategy, and more.
When was Affle founded and how has the journey been so far?
Affle started its business in India in 2006 and the journey has been quite satisfying. We currently have five offices located in Gurugram (India), Mumbai (India), Bengaluru (India), Singapore and Jakarta (Indonesia) and have customers in India. North America; Europe; South East Asia; the Middle East and Africa; and Japan, Korea, and Australia.
We have also built a patent portfolio with three patents to our credit in the United States in the areas of consumer-acceptable advertising and have one patent pending application in the United States while in India we have seven patent applications covering various algorithms of digital fraud detection and two patent applications pending.
Tell us more about Affle
Affle is a global technology business. We have two business segments: (a) our Consumer Platform which comprises our proprietary consumer intelligence platform that delivers consumer acquisitions, engagements and transactions through relevant mobile advertising and (b) our Enterprise Platform which primarily helps offline companies to go online through platform-based app development, enablement of O2O commerce and customer data platform.
Our Consumer Platform aims to enhance returns on marketing spend through delivering contextual mobile ads and reducing digital ad fraud while proactively addressing consumer privacy expectations. It utilises user-intent indicators derived from behavioural signals, marketing attribution, and transactional data which are received in real time and accumulated over time that increases our ability to predict user’s likely interests. The accuracy of the prediction and recommendation algorithm for our Consumer Platform improves with every advertisement we deliver, as the system incorporates new data while continuing to learn from previous data.
In addition, our Consumer Platform enhances customer’s ad content with rich media experiences, including interactive videos, games and augmented reality. This paired with data-centric scientific targeting and retargeting enables a higher likelihood of consumer engagement, such as downloading an app or completing a transaction.
As at March 31, 2018, we had approximately 1.18 billion consumer profiles which power the prediction and recommendation algorithm for our platforms.
We acquired Markt in March 2018, it had an offline to online (O2O) commerce platform through which we enhanced our platform propositions for e-commerce companies.
Effective September 2018, we acquired the Vizury Commerce business that offers an integrated solution for marketers to drive usage by retargeting relevant users over notifications, social and programmatic channels. We see this complementing the new user acquisition related strengths of our platforms and thus, expect this to significantly boost our propositions for e-commerce & app companies to reach high ROI shoppers and drive more transactions. Vizury Commerce Business is primarily focussed on the Middle East and Africa, which is a market in which we are planning to expand our Consumer Platform as well.
We will continue to acquire businesses, assets, and technologies that complement our existing capabilities, revenue streams and marketing presence.
How is Affle differentiated from other players in the sector?
As of March 31, 2018, our Consumer Platform had approximately 431 million consumer profiles in India. We provide services across the value chain in digital advertising, spanning the areas of DMP (data management platforms), DSP (demand-side platforms)/SSP (supply-side platforms), fraud detection and ad network. We are one of the very few companies that have products spanning the entire value chain.
We believe that the Indian market presents high barriers to entry given its unique challenges, such as a disjointed demographic, which is just getting habituated to digital applications (such as the use of e-commerce, digital payments, etc.) and low CPCU. In the last two calendar years, only ~25% of all Internet users in India have shopped online. Frost & Sullivan believes that this makes it a more challenging landscape for marketing tech to be able to discern the users who have the highest propensity to transact online. India can be a hard market to sustain, even for market participants who are globally successful. The range of CPCU in India is quite low compared to the global market. Frost & Sullivan believes that achieving profitability in such a price-sensitive market is possible only for companies that are familiar with the dynamics of consumer profiles and have a track record of working alongside brands locally for years. Therefore, we believe our extensive consumer profile data, proprietary technology, and local knowledge makes us better placed compared to global peers to deliver profitability in India. (Source: “Industry Insights on the Advertising and Ad Tech Market”, dated July 12, 2018, prepared by Frost & Sullivan (“Frost & Sullivan Report”).