Steuart Henderson Britt – the award-winning Canadian historian, culture critic, filmmaker and musician once famously said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” Such is the essentiality of advertising for business. However, advertising in itself is only half the job done – it needs the right media platform to create the necessary impact.
Launching an ad campaign on random platforms is again like playing the field in the dark; causing loss of time, effort and money. There are numerous media options available in the market and getting specific information on each of them can be a painful task, involve reaching out to each media company individually. Fortunately, startups like The Media Ant offer a platform for marketers and advertisers to seek insights on all the media options under one roof.
Samir Chaudhary, CEO and cofounder of The Media Ant was a marketer himself and faced similar issues during his stint as the marketing head at redBus. He was working on a marketing campaign with a small budget and could not afford an agency. There are a number of available media options, and sourcing information like price, reach, past examples, case studies was an exhaustive task, and involved calling and meeting people from the media companies. There was no single online platform that could be used. The concept of The Media Ant was conceived then, a virtual marketing manager for the marketing community.
The Ant That Loves Ads
Founded in July 2012 by Samir, Mayank Bidawatka and Mukesh Agrawal, The Media Ant is a discovery platform where media owners and marketing services vendors share their media and services details like reach, pricing and target audience. This information is then freely available to the marketers to access.
Marketers can choose from the various media domains like magazine, newspaper, radio, cinema, outdoor, digital and even inflight. On choosing the right media option and brand, a marketer can directly reach out to the respective media owner to place the ad. Although, it currently doesn’t offer an online payment option to book ads, users can book ad by confirming it online or through email. It even has a discussion platform for marketers to interact and post questions/doubts that other marketers can answer.
Samir has over 10 years of experience in the field of marketing and advertising. He pursued his PGDM in marketing and finance from IIM, Bangalore. He had worked with companies like Reckitt Benckiser, Britannia and redBus.
Mayank was his colleague at redBus and Mukesh was a common friend who used to work with E&Y at that time. They were seeking a partner with experience in finance, and Mukesh – who has an MBA in finance – fit the bill perfectly. He liked the idea and was welcomed aboard.
Samir takes care of the product and overall running of the organization, while Mukesh heads the business and finance. Mayank is not active in the day-to-day activity and plays an advisory role.
Talking about the The Media Ant’s business model, Samir said, “Right from the day one, we were clear that we will not charge for the information or listing. Democratization of information was core to our belief. Finding the right business model to continue running this free service was the biggest challenge we faced. We tackled that by keeping the cost to a minimum and using technology as much as possible to aggregate and share the information.
Challenges, Monetization, Traction And Competition
The Media Ant has overs 5200 media options, and has a client base of more than 300 advertisers. It has been growing by 10% in revenue month on month, over the last three months, its traffic growth has been around 20%.
However, things were not always hunky-dory for the trio. Just after three months of their launch, they decided to shut stop. Aggregating media was a tough task and the young startup received almost no traction from the advertiser’s side. For a week, all three of them decided to take a break, with no phone or internet. During this break, they decided to give the idea one more month.
Fortunately, something amazing happened during that break. They still don’t know what happened during that week, but on returning back, they found their mailboxes full. There were mails both from media owners to be enlisted as well as advertisers who wanted to place orders. “That one week-long break has since been our inspiration during all tough times,” exclaims Samir.
The company has managed to reach this far while being in a bootstrap mode – it currently has a 20-member team. They, however, won the ET Power of Ideas competition in September 2012 and received a cash prize. “There is a rich product pipeline in place. While we do not need fund immediately, we always keep our eyes and ears open to find the right investors who could either help us with their expertise to make the products better or with their funds to enhance the reach of our products to our users.”
Talking about the company’s expansion plans, Samir stated, “Our current expansion plan involves adding more media verticals and increasing depth in our current media verticals. Once we achieve this, we will launch products that touch other aspects of a marketer’s life.”
ReleaseMyAd offers a one-stop advertising solution enabling media planning and buying, jingle production and reporting services, customized for various businesses with different budgets. This Kolkata-based startup was founded in 2009 by Sharad Lunia – ex-employee of Microsoft and a Wharton alumnus.
It started off with a team of six people, offering online booking of newspaper classified ads through their platform. It has now expanded to a team of over 75 employees, and allows marketers to book ad campaigns on radio, magazine, cinema and leading websites. It also builds and launches Google Adwords campaign. It has not raised any funding and is cash-flow positive; it fuels its growth through internal accruals.
All the other players are online newspaper advertisement booking agencies. Deccan Chronicle and The Hindu have their separate online platforms for classified ad bookings on their media offerings – Ads2DC.com and thehinduads.com respectively. Although, Ads2Book belongs to the network of Times Business Group – part of The Times Group – it allows online ad bookings on more than 50 publications, including the Hindustan Times Group.
Both media companies and marketers sustain on a mutual collaborative relationship. These online ad booking platforms are tapping this relationship, as they understand that the demand-supply dynamics will always exist in this space, and there is a lot of untapped potential here. There are only a handful of players operating in this space; they are still discovering unexplored avenues of growth. Players who understand the need of marketers and media companies well , and are quick to offer innovative services will definitely have the first-mover advantage that would help them strengthen their footing in this space.