Building an online ad network, the Komli way

Building an online ad network, the Komli way

When it comes to advertising, knowing your target audience is half the battle, ensuring that your message reaches that audience is the other half and perhaps, the greater challenge of the two. The digital medium provides advertisers with a means to track the efficacy of their advertising. And Komli Media (Komli), an advertising network, provides its clients with various products to help in this regard. It goes one step further by helping them anaylse their audience too. It is a case of reliable data being generated for businesses to optimise on their advertising and marketing spends. As far as the Indian market is concerned, Komli is a front runner in the field.

“With about 55 million people online in India, of whom 30 million are English readers, the digital medium receives relatively smaller spends. The print medium still receives Rs. 8,000 to 9,000 crore in advertising, while the online segment gets around Rs. 800 to 1,000 crore

Komli Media has at its helm, two individuals, who are talented, accomplished and rather different from each other. One sees extremes in their experiences; from possessing a Harvard degree to running an Indian restaurant in China, but, Amar Goel and Akshay Garg were definitely on the same page when they established Komli and decided to leverage the digital medium. “When we set up in 2006, across India and the Asia Pacific, Internet advertising was growing. We believed that display advertising backed by the right data and technology would boost this space and make it more reliable,” explains Goel. While the founders of Komli did not delve into any formal study, their research on industry spends, Internet penetration and talking to publishers and advertisers in order to understand what was working and what was not, helped create a framework for the company.

Goel says, “With about 55 million people online in India, of whom 30 million are English readers, the digital medium receives relatively smaller spends. The print medium still receives Rs. 8,000 to 9,000 crore in advertising, while the online segment gets around Rs. 800 to 1,000 crore. But, what is important is the digital medium is finally, a critical part of an advertiser’s arsenal.”

Pick your audience

As Internet penetration increases, advertisers are realising the potential of the Internet as a cost effective medium, thus, accelerating its growth. While it is true that a phenomenal increase in digital spends is more of a global concept, India is not too far behind. Komli has played an active part in furthering the medium in India by ensuring that an advertiser’s message reaches the desired target audience, leading to a higher return. A service Komli has been providing since 2008 is audience measurement. This service is exhaustive to the extent that an advertiser can choose to advertise on a particular website based on any parameter from gender to age or even visitor loyalty. This service has helped Komli pick up the pace and this reflects in its speedy acquisition of clients. In 2006, it started out with one client, Naukri.com and today, that count stands at about 750 clients spanning several industries.

A factor that has kept Komli ahead of the pack is its constant technological innovation. With around 30 people on its product and engineering team, Komli is investing in building world class services. The proof of this lies in its product range, which includes Search Replay, a campaign sustenance tool and ViziSense, Komli’s transparent audience measurement package.

Komli has also been constantly acquiring other companies as it expands globally. Australia-based PostClick and U.K.-based Indoor Media, have enabled Komli to further expand its portfolio and even diversify into ethnic marketing which is the latter’s speciality. Aside from its inorganic growth, Komli is also setting its sights on expanding in South-East Asia and plans to extend its presence in Indonesia and Singapore.

The fact that Komli has set out a focused growth plan that looks at the inorganic and organic routes suggests that the company is fast losing its startup tag. Going back a few years, Komli was established on the founders’ personal capital of U.S. $100,000. Four years down the road and the company has received funding to the tune of U.S. $9 million. Of the total amount, about U.S. $6 million came around mid-2010 from existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Helion Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Komli’s success has been duly noted by award panels as it has been named among BusinessWeek’s Top 50 Tech startups and short listed for the Red Herring 100 in 2008, for its Asia and Global awards.

Not without a challenge

Looking at the challenges of the past and the future, Goel is measured when he says, “Our competition is not within this medium, but, rather comes from other media. Every dollar that comes from say television spends, contributes to the percentage of the pie. Within the digital medium itself, some of our clients like Google are our competitors as well.” While revenue from Komli’s advertising tools whose client profile primarily includes advertisers, agencies and website publishers has seen a constant uphill climb, its popular audience measurement tool has just turned profitable as it was a free service, until recently. Other challenges include finding talent, not only across the globe, but, also in India.

The digital medium is still rather nascent, but, it is also one that is exciting for the potential it holds in terms of being a relatively unexplored frontier for advertisers. Consumers, too, can look forward to new experiences as advertisers break past clichés in an attempt to woo them. And Komli will continue to lead the way in connecting advertisers to the right consumers.