Brands will adore the custom solutions that Airtel Ads offers: Adarsh Nair

Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Airtel, talks about the ad tech platform that they have launched

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Feb 25, 2021 8:54 AM  | 6 min read
adarsh nair airtel ads

Telecom brand Airtel has on launched an ad tech platform, Airtel Ads. The platform is focused on three pillars: Built for India, Built for Outcomes, and Built for Trust. Airtel has brought the platform just at the right time as digital advertising is growing more rapidly now and over 75% of digital ad spends is on mobile devices.

At the launch, Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Airtel, shared in-depth insights related to the working of the ad tech platform and how brands can leverage it. Airtel Ads will allow brands and advertisers conceptualize and produce safe campaigns (free from ad fraud) for Airtel subscribers. The platform will help advertisers curate creative solutions and connect with the diverse audiences of India. The telecom brand has over 320 million customers across businesses - mobile, and direct-to-home (DTH) -, giving them a wide scale of data to provide consumers with personalized content. The ads will feature only on various Airtel platforms.

The ad tech platform has marquee brands already in its kitty and have started working on providing outcome-based solutions for Pepsi, TATA AIG, Apollo 24x7, Vahan, and HDFC to name a few.

e4m caught up with Nair to delve deeper into the brand solutions that Airtel Ads provide, the key factors looked into while curating the ad tech platform, and their expectations for the coming quarters.

Edited excerpts:

Advertising solutions offered by Airtel Ads

We are investing in custom ad solutions. For instance, if there is an online concert, we will have interactive ads during that period because there is a lot of audience already connected virtually. There can be a game played with the live audience during the concert and that game can be sponsored. Similarly, for DTH, we have live TV, but we also have an app called Xstream where we can have interactivity between the app and the TV screen. This is another format we are testing.

Custom ads are where brands are going to adore the solutions provided because they are going to be solutions that are brainstormed together. Collectively we will be able to figure out what is right for engaging with the consumer. We are seeing interest in music, video, and gaming in a big way. Many of the young brands want to connect with the youth. To connect with these targeted audiences, we will need clever brand solutions on platforms for music, video, and gaming.


Key factors looked into while curating and conceptualizing the ad tech platform

From the consumers’ perspective, we are very fortunate to have a large business that is interacting with consumers. There is a lot of learning to garner from there. For instance, if you think about all major video OTT players, much of their distribution happens through Airtel anyway.

India is a very diverse country. Not everybody understands digital platforms. When you are given an assisted experience in ad tech, the consumer is more likely to purchase the product. As some are wary to spend money online, they would want to speak to a human who would then assist them to walk through the product and then make constituents. These are solutions we are embedding in the ad tech platform. This is the way we are building solutions for consumers. That is the only reason why Airtel Ads is more geared towards outcomes and driving growth for businesses.

From the advertiser’s side, we looked into providing very seamless themes that are interactive on the consumer front. Where it gets exciting is when the biggest brands associated with us ask for customized solutions, we put a growth team against that particular brand. This team monitors the growth of that particular brand activity. If Pepsi wants a 7 UP pack distribution, we have daily measurements that tell you how the sales are going and if the consumers are liking it. Since we are doing something custom, we want to make sure that everything is going in the right direction and that ability is really impressive for a brand. Brands will rely on us because even though this is a new venture there is a team that is making sure that the solutions are scaling in the right direction.

The impact expected going forward

When we started the work it was just an idea to take what Airtel does well and help other brands. We are very excited that we already have 100+ brands, 180 million consumers, and Rs 100-crore annualized revenue. Only time will tell where this platform can develop. We are going to add new products, build more experience, and because of the constant focus of dedicated teams and digital platforms, it will scale positively going forward.


Ad fraud and consumer reliability

Ad fraud comes from badly set metrics. It is created if you let third-party technology into your ads. Some technology ads are put in to deliver a third-party impression. That particular third party can say I delivered the impression to the cloud for that impression but in reality, it is behind the video the consumer hasn’t seen. But here at Airtel Ads, we control the entire ecosystem. So the chances of this happening are close to zero. If we do use a third-party solution, it is only if they can show the measurement that is displayed.


Noteworthy brand solutions by Airtel Ads

Our standard affair is to deliver good ad campaigns that are targeted at the right user that delivers value. We also do specialized campaigns at the request of brands.The campaign that we did for Pepsi was very interesting because they wanted a digital campaign to drive an offline product. This was done through an interesting mechanism of an online code latched to the product that was sold and we did all sorts of data setting on the backend to show this attribution. Pepsi was appreciative because it brought digital attribution to offline products.

For Apollo 24x7, during the pandemic, when we campaigned about their Covid test, we had a deep integration from the client's front. So people got themselves tested and got to know their results through Apollo’s technology which we integrated. Then, based on that, if the customer wanted to speak to a doctor at Apollo, we gave them the offer of a video conference. Integration was also done on our digital platforms. The work was a much bigger concept than a regular ad campaign.


Recovery in recent quarters and expectations on revenue

The platform has been doing phenomenal. In the first two quarters since we started, we were building, connecting, and had a few test partners. So the acceleration has really taken place in the last two quarters and this was during a time when Covid was still rampant. The activities started going up in the last two quarters as the product came to fusion. So the acceleration has been good and we expect this to continue going forward because it is such a young product that contains so much opportunity.


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