In Part 1 of our interview with Rajendra Khare, Founder of Spot TV firm Surewaves, we discussed the impact of the TRAI’s 12 minute limitation on TV advertising on their business, defining rates for Spot TV, how it differentiates itself from competitors Vubites and Amagi. In Part 2, Khare tells us about working with MSO’s, how the payment flow works with advertisers, selection of channels to advertise in, monitoring the effectiveness of a campaign on TV:
Medianama: What does Surewaves do more? Replace house inventory or localise ads?
Khare: We re solving a very important problem in the industry and here’s how we do it. There’s inventory in regional cables that industry did not know how to utilize as there was no credible platform through which accountability could be established. Again the whole ecosystem was fragmented that was making it doubly hard for people to use this inventory. So now we have solved these problems effectively. Now there is quality inventory available which, we are now making it available (in the) market to use in a smart and intelligent fashion. So there is no question of replacing house inventory with ads. The ads are finding a way to reach out to the new audience.
The largest advertisers, most advertisers we appeal to, are large in size and have commercials that area available in different languages. So the same advertiser now provides us with 20-25 flavors of the same commercial. We being one platform they provide us with 20+ flavors of the commercial varying may be in language, duration of the commercial depending on where they want to play them and sometimes these commercials vary as they position different products depending on the market.
To give an example, a beverages product, a tea company, does not sell the same brand of tea across all markets. They would have on brand that is popular in one market and a different one in another market. Now what happens is, they can excise absolute flexibility and say, in this market play this brand for me and of course that would be customised to that local context such as language.
Three major factors about these variants. One the brand itself, which is the product or sub-brand they want to offer, second language and then duration.
Medianama: Do all advertisers offer so many variants?
Khare: Large advertisers do that. So with an offering such as Surewaves, what happens is that the market is kind of embedded in the offering. There is large viewership and there is the profiling of the market. It becomes a powerful tool for the marketer. Earlier, the market offering wasn’t powerful enough to meet their specific ideas. Now we have an offering that is matching a smart marketer’s intelligence with what media can offer for them.
Medianama: So how does the business model work?
Khare: We provide one common interface to the advertiser who buys a specific market from us and in turn we have relationship with partners so we pass on this information through the technology we developed. So all this can happen in a jiffy. So an advertiser can come to our system and say we want to target this market and that one and then our systems pan out. Our tech is integrated with the system used in the TV studios of MSOs, so it pans out in a very transparent way and the advertiser gets what he wants. It’s like a retail model; there are many retail providers and we become a single window interface for the large advertiser and we are the interface. So the relationship is between the advertiser and Surewaves.
Medianama: So you collect revenues from advertisers and then pass it on to MSOs?
Khare: We place specific orders to our partners and we pay them according to that. We are the bridge between advertiser and partner. Our relationship between each of the partner is independent because we could be dealing with a large number of channels in a specific market.
Khare: We work with largest operators, so if that MSO is reaching out to the whole city or a couple of MSOs do that, we take all of them on to our bandwagon. So that market gets covered effectively. We are solving a problem of the crowd, because we partner with the largest MSOs. And we don’t partner with local cable operators. The role of local cable operators is redefined now and they are the last mile connect. Increasingly content is being offered by MSOs now.
How do you monitor the effectiveness of a campaign?
Khare: This is an area we have excelled in. Viewership is measured by agencies like TAM, now the problem here was the AdEx measurement. We have two measurements: one is measuring viewership – how many people are watching and then there is how many people are watching a channel when the ad appears. We marry both of this data and advertiser gets to know the actual effectiveness of his campaign. We have implemented this end-to-end solution.
We carry out this measurement and enable campaign analysis in a standard way so that media planners get all the imp parameters, reach numbers, frequency numbers, TRPs they want to do… we integrate all that data.
If it could not be measured we would be working on a hunch. Now we provide that science… end-to-end… so now a marketing head can see the effectiveness that we have delivered.
MediaNama: How do you get this data?
Khare: We have out tech deployed… we don’t go to set top box level, but we do it at a higher level. We know at what time an ad is aired and is able to have this tech seamlessly marry the information with a media planners way of doing things.
Medianama: So what are your growth plans?
Khare: We were not very visible until recently because we wanted to build our value proposition which is the length and breadth of the country, ability to scale and select markets. We have achieved that and in the process we were engaging with only select clients while building the tech over 2.5-3 years.
Medianama: Did you expect it to take this long?
Khare: We expected it to take this long because of the large number of partners and deployment of technology. It was very difficult to convince clients in the beginning as we were still building the technology and main attraction to him is our size. Now the tech is available nationwide and we want to educate the market more.
MediaNama: What were the major challenges you faced while deploying the tech nationwide?
Khare: It involved some deployment efforts, and training studio teams as they needed to be educated on how to use the technology. As we are dealing with the complexity of the country, we had to deal with different culture, languages.
So we found out which all markets clients are interested in deploying and started with Gujarat Maharashtra, Kerala and Bihar. Places like North East… the 5 sisters… was challenging.
Medianama: When you raised funding you had mentioned you’ll be looking to expand internationally, so which country are you beginning with?
Khare: When we see international boundaries, we see in the form of markets people want to communicate to with greater needs. The people who want to use that medium could be residents in the same country or planners, marketing think tank based elsewhere.
Right now we like to do a lot more homework before we embark on opportunities abroad. Which markets we pick for our international foray it’s something that’s still on our drawing boards. However it takes time before we get it to action it needs more planning, time and study which is what we would be in a position to start doing now.
Clearly out focus from a business revenue point of view is going to be the market in India.
Medianama: So international is something you plan to do in the long run? And you haven’t finalised where you would start and when?
Khare: To do that you have to be closer to the market where you are. Currently our hands are full and that wasn’t getting attention enough but it will start getting attention now.
Don’t read much into our international plan. Three years back we started with this (national) plan and set a road we need to travel. India is 1/6th the population of the world, so we are trying to go with the understanding of the market first.