Komli Media India Pvt Ltd, the Mumbai-based ad network and audience measurement services provider, seems to be on an innovation and acquisition spree. It has recently launched Komli Labs, a centre for research in advertising sciences, besides ATOM, India's first real-time bidding platform to get a better inventory on an ad platform.
Komli Media, which had raised $15 million in a funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners early last year, also struck a couple of inorganic expansion deals. It acquired Los Angeles-based ZestADZ, a mobile ad platform with offices in Des Moines, Iowa and Chennai, for an undisclosed sum. The company also took over Aktiv Digital, a Singapore-based online media firm for branding, lead-generation and marketing, to further strengthen its reach in Asia. It even had an exclusive partner called Jivox Interactive Video Advertising Platform in the Asia-Pacific region for video advertising.
In a candid conversation with Techcircle.in, Satish Kadu, the vice-president and business head of Komli Media, speaks about its growth, reasons for launching a slew of new products, upcoming trends in the ad network business and Komli's plans for the coming months. Here are the excerpts:
How do you see the business of ad networks growing? Can consolidation be a driving force in the coming years?
Overall, it's going pretty well. We see great times ahead for the Internet/digital ad industry. The Internet market in India is growing really fast and will soon hit the threshold. We also see a new wave coming, based on technology. Coupled with it, there will be relevant data which will ensure campaign effectiveness for the display world of ad ecosystem. The ethos is growing, which is helping us get more volumes of display ads and bringing in more dollars. Even traditional advertising is shifting to online media.
Consolidation will help the business in scaling up. And I believe it will happen both in terms of quality and quantity. While bigger ad networks will continue to grow, the smaller ones might be dissolved or consolidated.
On the other hand, we might also see another kind of consolidation happening, where ad agencies will be looking for ad networks to give them better transparency and control. Agencies and advertisers would look for various types of access to various platforms. If they are looking for full service solutions which cover social media, radio display and mobile, they would definitely require partners to help them. Then there will be a consolidation of ad platforms and technology platforms.
How do you see the business changing?
We will probably see two big changes in the coming months. One will be around the integrated services and offerings and that means platforms will reach scale (especially those who are offering services across social media, search, video, display and mobile "the whole spectrum of media, to be precise).
Secondly, there will be the advent of new technology and data, and the premium disrupters will be real-time bidding and audience data. An ecosystem will be formed and it will provide customers with third-party data about users in real time. And this will really help the industry grow. Earlier, advertisers were somewhat aware of this kind of data and their utility, but now things are changing and happening in real time.
How is the tie-up with Facebook helping Komli?
The partnership is driving growth and innovation for us. In fact, this tie-up is the sign of trust a brand like Facebook has shown in Komli media. Thanks to the growth and the dollars Facebook is earning globally, we are also getting tremendous returns from this partnership.
Of late, you are coming up with a slew of new products. How will it help your growth strategy?
In order to be the market leader in the APAC region, we need to grow at a tremendous rate. And to achieve that, we need to develop a few things, such as sales and good relationships. We should have a good rapport with the marketers in India and other APAC countries, which would act as a strong growth driver. Most importantly, we need to launch innovative products and platforms to provide excellent service to our customers. By combining our strength in sales and relationships with products and platforms, we would see ourselves growing. Above all, innovation is the keyword of any growth-driven business and we must focus on it.
Tell us about the interesting trends coming up in the ad network business.
Well, earlier, it was only driven by search and display. Of course, search was the driver for growth and display was the poorer cousin. But now, technology will drive the business, coupled with audience data. Also, integrated platforms will be the biggest disrupter in the coming years. A similar wave is sweeping the USA and Europe, and it is expected to reach the Indian shores soon.
How are you pushing your mobile business?
We have been tracking the mobile market very closely. When we decided to invest in this space one and a half years ago, mobile devices have already hit the mass market. We saw growth opportunities here because mobile Internet reach was higher than the traditional Internet penetration in the country.
Where do you place India on the global platform?
We have identified APAC as our preferred market; in fact, Australia, South-east Asia and India are our major markets. The Indian market is growing much faster, though, and it is probably the strongest market. So we have enough ground to increase our market share in India.
What are Komli's plans for the current year?
We will continue to grow our revenues and that will be ultimately driven by people. So we will invest to ramp up our team and also focus on technology, to ensure product innovations. The newly launched R&D centre of Komli Labs will be expanded as well. We are also open to inorganic growth and keeping our eyes open for partnerships and acquisitions which will enable us to scale up.
Do you plan to raise more funds or will you now go the IPO way?
We will focus on building market leadership and market share, and will create more value for our customers. Right now, we are not considering further fundraising, but IPO doesn't top our priority list either. However, it's probably one of the routes we would take down the line. When the right time comes, we will go for it.