Here's why this online ad agency thinks small businesses cannot ignore radio

Online ad exchange portal,releaseMyAd, has come a long way since its inception in 2009. After establishing a solid presence in the newspaper classifieds sector, the company is turning its attention to a new medium - radio - with The company's founder and business head, Sharad Lunia, spoke to Firstbizabout the newest offerings from the firm.

FB: What was the idea behind creating ? What space were you trying to fill?

Newspaper classifieds are among the most popular advertising avenues for small businesses and individuals. Even though online classifieds present a viable alternative, the vast reach of newspapers far outweighs the Internet eventoday in India. Moreover, the audience type a newspaper reaches is quite different from the typical Internet user.

Most newspapers maintained primitive methods for accepting classified bookings, and did so usually through local kirana stores and photocopying centres. Such an approach did not ensure rate transparency, an easy booking experience and accountability in ad releases to the consumer. There existed significant inefficiencies throughout the value chain. The business opportunity was to eradicate such inefficiency by connecting the power and reach of print media with the convenience of the Internet.

FB: How has the business evolved?

Since inception in 2009, we have serviced over 100,000 advertisers and have emerged among the largest advertiser sources for most of the publications we serve. With a focus on scale and efficiency, releaseMyAd now powers booking systems for some.of India's largest newspapers in English, Hindi and other languages.

Starting with classifieds, releaseMyAd acquired a number of local businesses as customers.These businesses did not have access to advertising agencies because of their low advertising spend andlocational constraints. Our user-friendly online platform has successfully catered to such businesses on a large scale.

Having built this customer base, releaseMyAd's natural evolution is to expand into other media that has similar inefficiencies, so that we eventually become the one-stop, go-to agency servicing local businesses and individuals.

FB: Why the shift to radio now?

Radio is a powerful and effective medium for local and regional advertisers. Over 85 cities in India have private radio channels now, and they are widely used by local businesses because radio is a medium that allows them to reach a highly relevant audience for a reasonable price.

The government is expected to launch phase-3 auctions for radio spectrum soon. Radio is expected to cover 294 new cities and towns having a population of at least 1 lakh residents. This tremendous growth in reach would also translate to more local advertisers, across various budgets, who are looking to promote their businesses effectively through the medium.

Moreover, servicing local businesses effectively is an interesting challenge. Their smaller ticket sizes cannot support access to specialist agencies for campaign planning, media buying and ad development. Even the radio station sales teams allocate more time to bigger spenders compared to smaller advertisers. releaseMyAd aims to fill this void by helping educate local businesses on radio advertising and effectively planning and buying media space for their advertising campaigns through our Internet-based platform.

Having been in beta for the last few months, the service has already generated substantial revenue. Some of our major clients also include other well-known technology start-ups such as Knowlarity Communications, and

FB: How does your business model work? How much of a cut does releaseMyAd take?

We charge the same rates as our media partners; there is no additional charge for our services. We are paid by media houses, in proportion to the business generated for them, just like an offline agency would be paid. This varies from 10-30 percent of the transaction value, depending on the volume, media and our share.

FB: What other developments do you have in the pipeline?

Small- and medium-sized enterprises usually don't have dedicated marketing teams, and most staff are occupied with meeting the demands of day-to-day operations. releaseMyAd seeks to be an advertising network catering to such businesses. Our strategy is to be a web-based advertising agency, and we keep evaluating media avenues with a view to its effectiveness and affordability for such businesses.

Offline media offers tremendous scope and still enjoys very strong reach and impact. However, there are several difficulties that local businesses face in advertising on this medium. Our objective remains to identify the unique inefficiencies within each medium, and improve customer experience by eradicating these inefficiencies by harnessing technology and the Internet.

releaseMyAd is also working on vertical offerings for cinema advertising, search engine marketing and print magazines - all of these have great potential.

Updated Date: Apr 24, 2014 17:50:39 IST