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Ujjal Sinha

(CEO) | 06 Jun 2005

Brandsum offers a print advertising archive covering all leading English publications, numbering more than 55 dailies and magazines, including financial and specialty publications like in-flight magazines. It also offers a search through categories, sub-categories and brands in order to view and save original sized ad images

Brick & Click Technologies was formed by a few communication industry professionals to build bridges between the brick and mortar industries and the exciting new economy technologies. The first project from Brick & Click was www.brandsum.com, which today is the largest online print advertising archive. Ujjal Sinha, a self-taught advertising professional, and Shankho Chowdhury, who grew in some of the country’s blue chip JVs in office automation, IT and telecom, rising from the ranks in sales and marketing to become a COO, are the people behind Brick & Click. In conversation with Anurag Batra of exchange4media, they talk about www.brandsum.com. Excerpts:

Q. What is brandsum.com and how did the idea of such a service come?

Brandsum essentially is a tool for any advertising, marketing or research professional involved in studying brands. It helps to cull out brand-wise print advertising data and images in a holistic manner. It delivers online as well as offline in CD.

Brandsum offers a print advertising archive covering all leading English publications, which are more than 55 dailies and magazines, including financial and specialty publications like in-flight magazines. It also offers search through categories, sub-categories and brands in order to view/save original sized ad images. Apart from the images, the software also helps to generate an editable report in Excel format for brands/products, containing information like brand names, headlines, ad sizes, date of release, page of release and publication/edition in which the ads have appeared. Brandsum currently covers more than 37,000 Indian brands across almost 600 products and services categorised into 82 categories. It adds roughly 275 new advertisements with all their release details everyday. The total number of unique ads that are their on the site exceeds 1,60,000 and that perhaps makes us the largest such site in the world.

Between 1999 and 2001, while handling the advertising account of a large general interest portal, we realised most portals were trying to make the web their business instead of making their business on the web. We truly believed web had opened doors for unlimited possibilities in the communication industry. We formed Brick & Click Technologies, a new economy company, and started building Brandsum.com with a mission to help brand owners, agencies and media people to have a 360-degree knowledge of what’s happening around.

Very month, in a compact disk, Brandsum offers images of all print ads that may have appeared in a particular category that month. It also helps the user to generate an editable report for each of these ads wherein data such as name of publication, date, page, headline and size is available. Apart from this, we are also open to offering customised support to clients based on specific requirements.

Q. Many newspapers have internal departments who do this kind of compilation. Why should they buy this?

Truly speaking, while designing the service we did not have media owners as a prime target in our mind. However, once the format was ready, we realised that it’s a good weapon for the media to track what’s come to them and what’s not. There aren't many publication houses that track what has appeared in other publications in a manner as comprehensive as we do. Also, nobody keeps the creative.

Imagine a situation where a VP (Marketing) of a newspaper in Chennai or Bangalore wants to check online which ad of a particular car brand has appeared in Delhi. He simply makes a print of the ad, prints a copy of the data sheet showing the release details and hands this over to his sales guys as their target. Also, if any publication has done this on its own, it will cost them a lot. In most of the publications, the upcountry information trickles in from their respective branches.

Q. Is it more suited to newspapers than to magazines?

It’s as relevant for magazines as newspapers. Well, they do get a lead time as they are not publishing daily, but information on competition is important for them. And, why just print media? A lot of our friends from electronic media keep telling us that they often miss to identify those advertisers as potential targets who are print heavy with minimal presence in TV. Look at the example of people like Bata, Colourplus, etc., and you will know what we mean. Also, electronic media understands that retail might be a potential business in near future. Where else will you come to know about them if not Brandsum? We scan every ad that’s 20 col/cm and more.

Q. In what all scenario can the advertising agency use it?

To maintain guardbook for existing clients covering all worthwhile competitive brands, media plan and strategy budget position analysis. They can also use the service very effectively for new pitches. Recently, brandsum provided data and creatives on large format anchor stores to an MNC agency for its pitch presentation. The agency got the job later.

Q. How is this priced? How can the user get an ROI on using brandsum.com?

Each catagory is priced at 5,000 per month. For Rs 60,000 a year, you can get comprehensive data and creative archiving of your catagory over the entire publication list that we scan. For print media, it’s all catagories per publication per edition. These are single user costs. ROI is in savings that you make in HR, real estate investment and above all, quality and robustness of the data and creative archiving.

Q. What kind of investment has gone into this service?

A very substantial amount!

Q. What is the scalability of this model?

The best part of Brandsum is its scalability. You can add publication, language or even another country in a short time. We can even add more information like cost of the ad per card rate. And then you can factor in discounting going by market trends. In fact, we have been approached by more than one organisation to collaborate to setup brandsum service in other countries.

Q. How has the response been from the market?

Very positive. As you know we have just started marketing it. Everybody who we have met and given a demonstration to, has liked the product.

Q. What kind of revenue do you hope to generate in the first year?

We are aiming at Rs 20 million in the first year. It shouldn't be difficult.

Q. What is the level of customisation that is possible in brandsum.com ?

The backend software is designed in such a way that deep customisation is possible. Also, it’s a new service and as we meet more people, we get new perspectives. We have no problem taking practical suggestions and incorporating them for improvement.

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