We want to pioneer programmatic advertising in India: Tejinder Gill, Truecaller

The Vice President, Sales & India Operations of Truecaller, shared his views on the app’s future plans, how they managed to achieve a 300 per cent growth rate and other industry related issues

e4m by Ronald Menezes
Updated: Aug 31, 2017 7:46 AM

Truecaller has been in the news since last year for its in-app advertising platform. In just a year of its launch, Truecaller app advertising registered a 300 per cent growth while recording 200 million impressions. The Swedish company has tied up with various brands such as Snapdeal, Google and Airtel to improve user experience. We spoke with Tejinder Gill, Vice President Sales & India Operations, Truecaller, who shared his views on Truecaller’s future plans, how the company managed to achieve such a stellar growth and other industry-related issues.




Recently Truecaller announced a 300 per cent growth in its in-app advertising platform. How did you manage to achieve this feat? 


In the last one year or so, we have launched a lot of consumer products that have helped us increase the engagement within the app. We have also launched various new features to the app which is driving the engagement for us. Our core proposition is still to help users identify the right call. We want to be the central app of communication which is safe and efficient. If you think of communication, it involves calling and messaging and that’s where we are extremely strong. All this put together along with the growing market size and cheap data costs have helped us reach that number. The mobile app market has also grown sharply.


What has the marketing strategy been since you joined and what will be the three year plan from now for Truecaller? 


From a marketing strategy perspective, we focus on being a one stop solution for all means of communication. We are working a lot on user experience and bettering it while keeping it around communication. The bigger viewpoint is that Truecaller will be your mobile identity. One thing that has not changed for a long time is the mobile number and even when you order for a pizza you have to give out your mobile number. That’s the thought we are going forward with and anything or everything will eventually be linked to a mobile number. We have focused on how we can make it mobile number centric. 


Data sharing is a major concern today, what is Truecaller’s take on the issue? 


From our perspective, we take data security and data privacy very seriously. What we do is we put all the control in the hands of the users. We have high class security systems and we are a Stockholm based company with strict Swedish laws. The data of our users is 200 per cent safe and to be honest, we would not be a part of the Play store and the App store if we wouldn’t comply by this. Our brand stands for trust and we live by that value. People download our app through word of mouth and we are confident we will grow at that pace.


We see a tectonic shift from feature phones to smartphones, how do you plan to reach out to the rural audience? 


We are using a couple of strategies. We have partnered with Airtel recently and the idea is to reach out to a feature phone user and not smartphone user. It is the similar caller ID feature on a feature phone. It is similar to the services that BSNL provided by charging a nominal fee when we had landline phones. You are therefore catching all users young and before they step out to buy a new smartphone, as they have already seen it. This is helping us in Tier II and Tier III cities. In India, we are 150 million users and 40 per cent of that comes from Tier II and Tier III cities. 


Can you expand on what you are doing on the brand marketing front?


We launched the monetisation model last year and this year we went all out. We got a fabulous response from the market. 70 per cent of our marketers and advertisers are our repeat customers. We provide them solutions like top of the mind recall and increase brand awareness. We help them drive purchase intent and deliver contextually relevant messages to their audiences. What we have to offer is a smartphone audience with data connectivity and that’s the qualified audience we are giving them. Where we add more value is that this is a very personal reach and the other is the large scale and reach. There is no other player in the in-app category that can deliver them that kind of a reach and that’s where we delivered 200 million impressions. The growth is because people use it very often and our analytics say a user gets six to eight calls a day, which means we are giving that many opportunities to connect with a consumer for a brand. Our advertising is seamlessly integrated into it.


What are the other synergies in the pipeline and what should we expect from Truecaller in the near future?


We will continue to solve all mobile identity needs, make sure that this becomes the central means of communication and improve user experience. When we started the company a few years ago, we had decided to never hamper the user experience. The users are the heart of our app. We are a product made by the community and for the community. 


Only consumers improve Truecaller and people who have built this product are the ones making the right kind of strategies and partnerships to reach every corner of India. We are 100 per cent programmatic, so we don’t do any direct booking and everything needs to be via a double click. We aim to be more transparent with our advertisers and we want to give control to them. They can have the power to change the creative as and when they want it. 


We want to pioneer programmatic advertising in India though it is very nascent. It was a tough call. We had to take a decision on whether we start with direct and then shift to programmatic, but we decided to be the leaders and show it to the world that you can have a small team and do everything programmatically. Advertisers are also loving it and they see the transparency and are happy with the performance. 


How do you see the Indian market when it comes to earning a revenue through in-app advertising? 


As per my experience, when I am talking to marketers and CEO’s, they are shifting their focus from mobile first strategies to mobile only strategies. That’s really exciting and keeps us awake at nights and makes us think about what more could we do. Five years ago, mobiles or smartphones were new and people were afraid to test it, today people don’t want a desktop site because the smartphone eco-system is growing and as long as this grows, we will continue to grow and as long as we deliver value to the users, we will be fine. In terms of advertising, we are selective and have top brands in the first nine months and our focus is to deliver value so they come back to advertise with us.

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