This is another edition of our exclusive startup interview. This time around, you will be learning about AdVoice. Nigeria’s advertising industry is the second largest in Africa.
In 2015, the industry’s monitored billing was estimated at NGN97.9 billion (approximately *USD308 million).
The fast growth in the ICT and mobile sector is driving digital media and most importantly mobile advertising spend beyond precedents. In spite of the steady growth in mobile spend, voice calls is under and sometimes misused.
In our scout for startups with a difference, we came across AdVoice. According to Ope Filani, the Country Manager of AdVoice, the vision of AdVoice is to disrupt the mobile advertising space while still rewarding mobile users and connecting advertisers with measurable, real time and effective selling opportunities.
We hope you will enjoy the piece!
What is the hunch to setting up Advoice?
We saw the opportunities created by the size and growth within the Mobile network space. With over 7 billion mobile connections worldwide, advancement in wireless technology has given mobile devices a strong advertising edge. This growth is driven by rapid adoption of smartphones and media tablets for multipurpose use ranging from communication to infotainment. As mobile devices allow a higher level of interaction, leading brands are depending on them to advertise their products aggressively.
Over the last 6 years, advertisers’ needs have evolved quite significantly. They are now looking towards performance ads, which are measurable, and they need to reach a larger audience at the same time. These advertisers also look for solutions/tools, which can be used efficiently to manage their campaigns and deliver brand/marketing messages to the same audience via multiple advertising channels.
Although mobile network operator data has long been recognized as an invaluable source of intelligence for the advertising ecosystem, it has so far lacked the scalable technology, privacy compliance and business models required.
AdVoice has been designed, having taken into consideration or with the following expectations.
1) the advertiser demand and;
2) the basic mobile network technology, which is available from all operators and can be used to accommodate the advertising needs. Past operator-owned approaches have tried and failed to dictate to the market without responding to what advertisers want. The only way to achieve success in Mobile Ad ecosystem is processing the customer data and commercializing it in a manner which suits the Digital Advertising Eco-System!
*What is Advoice and what is it not?
AdVoice is a Company that aims to provide end-to-end advertising services on top of a proprietary Demand Side Platform (or DSP). The company undertakes to handle the advertising sales, invoicing and payment collection. It has developed strong relationships with Mobile Network Operators, global and regional media agencies.
As a first step in our roadmap AdVoice’s AdRBT platform enables Mobile Operators to monetize incoming calls by replacing the ringing tone with highly targeted audio ads. It also allows Advertisers to engage with their target audience in a one-on-one fashion. Unlike standard solutions that typically target smartphone users, our technology allows advertisers to reach any mobile user in Nigeria regardless of their phone types (smartphone or feature phone). Also, our intelligent profiling system allows advertisers to effectively target users according to a wide range of variables: location, interests, behavioral pattern, etc.
*Tell us about the company behind Advoice?
AdVoice’s corporate offices are in Dubai. The company is marketed and powered by ChannelVAS, a leading Mobile Value Added Services company and the world’s largest provider of Airtime Credit Services. ChannelVAS is a member of the Channel IT Group; a large-scale company builder that focuses on Telecom, VAS and mobile financial services with services deployed in 40 Mobile Networks Operators. Channel IT Group started in Nigeria and is now present in more than 15 countries with a continuous expansion to new markets globally.
*What particular problem is this product going to solve?
AdVoice AdRBT platform is a unique ecosystem that solves the problems of three stakeholders: the advertisers, the Telecom operators and the mobile users. Advertisers want to reach Nigerians and generate strong sales leads; Telecom operators want to tap into the USD100bn Mobile Ad industry but don’t know how to do so; and mobile users are always looking for genuine and rewarding offers that speak to their interests and needs.
AdVoice has succeeded at creating an all-inclusive platform where all three stakeholders converge and exchange precious information that create value for each one of them.
All this interaction happens in real-time and is seamlessly handled in the backend by our powerful platform, which was built from the ground up with world-class engineers and data scientists. This is the first time that such a powerful mobile advertising platform is deployed in Nigeria.
It doesn’t stop here! Channel VAS feels that it has responsibility towards the society as well, so 10% of the monthly inventory is reserved for NGO’s and Humanitarian Assistance Organizations. They can deliver awareness campaigns on the reserved Ad space about social causes for free.
*What percentage of Nigerian input was/is involved in the engineering of the platform?
It is important to note that Channel IT Group, our parent company, was founded in Nigeria. So Nigeria is in our DNA. I myself have an Engineering background with over 13 years of Marketing, Media and Advertising; and our Technical Project Manager is from Nigeria as well.
While we are all proud of our Nigerian culture and heritage, we are also blessed with a truly global team spread across the coming from all parts of the world from the UK and Holland, Pakistan, India and the US.
*As an estimate, how much have you expended on the project?
Building a scalable platform such as AdVoice is a costly endeavor and we spent as much as all the leading mobile ad technology companies in Europe and in the US.
*What is your source of capital? Venture funding? debt funding? or self-funding?
We are fully self-funded through our parent company.
*How do plan to react to copycats?
When you deploy a disruptive technology you have to expect copycats. It’s the nature of the game. We are not afraid of competition and, in fact, it is actually good for consumers. Naturally, we believe that the value of our service will speak for itself and that all stakeholders will position AdVoice as Nigeria’s leading mobile marketing platform.
AdVoice’s technology is protected by both a local and an international patent. Furthermore, there is no other solution on the market that allows advertisers to tap into the Telecom Operators’ inventory while helping the latter generate more revenue through an OPEX/CAPEX-free solution.
We are also very aggressive when it comes to staying on top of our game and we have offices full of teams of engineers and data scientists in multiple countries that are constantly working on improving our solution to ensure that it constantly remains competitive and relevant.
*Are you scaling this product to other countries in Africa and how soon?
We are currently in talks with several partners in North Africa and in neighboring African countries to set up shop and deploy AdVoice. At the global level, we will penetrate about ten countries in the short-term.
*Do you think this product has a lifespan?
In order to truly appreciate AdVoice’s long-term value we need to take a look at the dynamics and the trends of the current mobile ecosystem in emerging markets: On one end of the spectrum, you have advertisers that are allocating more budget to the digital and mobile sectors and that are increasingly looking for better ways to reach users. Facebook, for instance, has been expanding its reach in places like India and West Africa in an attempt to capitalize on this trend. On the other end, you have Telecom operators that are facing significant pressure from Over-The-Top players such as Viber and Whatsapp, and that need to offset their revenue losses with advertising revenue.
Moreover, in between, you have the users who spend significantly more time with their mobile devices. The mobile penetration rate keeps on increasing in emerging markets with no sign of slowing down. When you add all of this together and make the necessary correlation, you realize that a single platform that solves these three trends is definitely here to stay for a very long time.
*What other products are you looking at bringing on stream?
Although we are launching the service in September, our engineering team is already working on version 2 which will come out later this year. We will introduce a series of revolutionary features that will surprise advertisers, users and operators in a very good way. The end game is for AdVoice to become the most powerful voice of advertising, not just an audio advertising channel.
This is what “AdVoice” means to us.
About Ope Filani
Ope Filani is the Country Manager for AdVoice Nigeria. He has a first degree in Mechanical Engineering (University of Ibadan), Msc. International Marketing Management (Aberdeen Business School), and is in the process of completing his MBA degree from
Over the last 12 years, he has garnered experience with outstanding successes in Business Development, Media Sales and Marketing across various industries namely: Marketing Communications, Courier, Banking, and Media.
Prior to his current position, he was General Manager Sales, West Africa, for Africa Business News (owners of CNBC Africa and Forbes Africa), where he helped to grow the revenue base of the company by 400% over a 3-year period. Ope is passionate about charitable causes.
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