Digital our biggest revenue source in India: Ashish Trivedi, FreakOut

Ashish Trivedi, Country Head of FreakOut talks about how digital medium has been a major source of revenue for the global marketing technology firm in India

In an era where consumers are susceptible to ad blockers and are seeking interruption-free experiences, how do marketers and advertisers still get their brands noticed? Given this particular scenario, the time is likely to favour native advertising where in; “its immersive and non-intrusive traits blend seamlessly into the publisher’s content feed, thus enabling consumer engagement with rich content”, claims Ashish Trivedi, Country Head, India, FreakOut Pvt. Ltd, a mobile marketing platform with in-feed native ads, in-feed video and television sync products in South East Asia.

In an interview with exchange4media, Trivedi talks about how the digital medium today across a spectrum of categories has been a major source of revenue for their global marketing technology company in India. However, he also points out at the dark side of digital advertising wherein brand safety, advertising fraud and user data privacy are some of the key concern areas today.

Excerpts:

What are the initial marketing plans that you are focusing on to accelerate FreakOut's strategic pan-Asia expansion?

Our focus is on brand building through tactical expansion. This means that we will focus on presence at marketing forums and selected events across India. We plan to engage more with brands and agencies for future partnerships with them in order to address complex challenges throughout the consumer journey. We are adopting both, organic and inorganic growth models, depending on where we see the most pertinent synergies with the most promising long-term potential.

What new offerings are you planning to bring to the market to complement FreakOut's innovative mobile marketing services?

Owing to our native ad-platform, we have established an initial footprint in the Indian market. Now we want to enhance our offering by tailoring it towards what our clients’ business and marketing needs are. Building a video product was almost a no-brainer, given the increased interest in video as a format and the exponential growth in video consumption. Video has already garnered substantial interest from various categories of brands, including Beauty, Automotive, FMCG, and many others. To be a right fit in a dynamic and multifaceted market like India, we have invested in companies like Dataweave and SilverPush, which can bring unique technology solutions to the table, to be able to solve critical marketing complexities across various touchpoints in the consumer’s journey.

What percentage of FreakOut's ad spends are on digital and what are some of the significant digital spends that have contributed in leveraging FreakOut's efficiency and maximised its reach?

In India, our revenue mostly comes from digital, but throughout a gamut of categories, we work closely with both, brands and agencies. Our latest video product is geared to drive growth by connecting brands and agencies with the MOAT certified premium inventory on local apps in over 100 countries.

While FreakOut does engage in in-feed native ads, between native channels and traditional content marketing, what according to you is a better platform which impacts growth heavily and why?

When it comes to content marketing efforts of brands, there are two aspects to consider: content production and afterwards, content distribution. Having great content is only half the battle won. The even bigger challenge is distribution which needs to span across the right mediums to drive conversations and achieve business outcomes.

Today, advertisers face two core problems: banner blindness and scale. In-feed native ads address both. Because of the immersive and non-intrusive qualities, native ads blend into the publisher’s content feeds enabling consumer conversations with highly engaging content quality and narrative. Native ads can also help brands achieve exponential scale as most of the premium publishers prefer them.

How do you plan to improve/change the current engagement model for FreakOut with the ad agencies?

We intend to build close relationships with all leading agency partners in India. We look forward to adding value through meaningful consumer interactions which will directly result in achieving business outcomes for brands. FreakOut’s portfolio of technology solutions will support agency partners to solve complex marketing challenges. We aim to be a trusted partner of the agencies whom they can rely on.

While marketers are enamoured by digital advertising, how does one efficiently record data metrics in order to monetise viewership, in an era where trust is at the lowest?

Trust can be established on the foundation of both, relevance and context. Today, consumers are extremely cautious about sharing their own data with brands. The key is to make the messaging relevant through the customisation of narrative and formats. To that end, being personal is pivotal. Personalisation could range from narrative and format of the messaging to parameters such as time of day and type of screens. Efficiency and effectiveness of conversations is surely going to be critical to harness true potential.

What is your take on the agenda of 'Video First'. In digital how is this of any help to you to increase market share?

Video First is very critical for a market like India for two reasons. Firstly, video content consumption in India has doubled since 2017 due to the democratisation of data prices which have plummeted by almost 20 per cent. Secondly, affordable smartphones from companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi, VIVO, Oppo have become increasingly available. As the trends demonstrate, video is projected to account for 70 to 75 per cent of mobile traffic by 2020. Hence, video is going to be at the forefront for all key players - be it marketers or marketing technology providers.

Do you think digital is here to take over traditional media as a preferred medium of business & engagement? What are the challenges that the digital market is facing at present?

Digital media spend is definitely growing at an exponential pace – averaging approximately 30 to 35 per cent YOY. Consider TV or Print - they are both growing, but not nearly at the same rate. TV spends are projected to grow by approximately 12 to 13 per cent and print at 4 to 5 per cent. The distinct advantage of digital lies in precise attribution and measurement of outcomes. It is almost mandatory to be looking at digital as a key medium to drive consumer conversations.

A few key challenges that our digital advertising industry is banding together to solve include: advertising fraud, brand safety and user data privacy. Furthermore, there is a need for vernacular advertising content from leading brands. This is because the next phase of growth is going to be across Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities in India.

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