We are beyond excited to see SmartAd featured in the “Media and Advertising” section of Capital, the leading weekly newspaper for economic news and analysis and one of the most influential media brands in Bulgaria.
The Smart Advertising Platform in the Phone
Advertising messages are turning into user experience in the marketing medium created bythe SmartAd technology solution
December 15, 2021 13:52
15-minute TV advertising slots, videostitials, which everyone is in a hurry to close, constant pop-up banners with predictable content – for advertising agencies and their clients, the fight for users’ time and attention is getting more and more challenging. It is increasingly harder for brand messages to reach the audience, and due to their enormous volume, they often get lost on the screen or are considered annoying.
At the same time, the consumer becomes more and more unreachable, due to the opportunities that the digital space and the remote control provide them with: from changing the channel, to not allowing cookies, to blocking notifications. The more the target group gravitates towards digital, the more efforts brands make to reach it at the most central place for it – the smartphone. There, user control is also at its highest and one wrong step or message could result in a total rejection of communication.
However, there is a service designed in such a way as to secure the user’s undivided attention on the displayed advertising content coming from their most intimate space – the smartphone. SmartAd is a new media, based on a technology and marketing framework that enables advertising messages to turn into a hugely impactful digital experience. It is a media, which transforms digital advertising by providing content through the basic smartphone functions – effectively and easily. And it is fully based on the so-called “opt-in marketing” (consensual/permission marketing), where the communication of brands with consumers happens in a medium which has secured their consent. In the case of SmartAd, smartphone users give their consent to watch content in return for incentives in the form of bonuses from their telecom operators.
SmartAd is a product of the US-registered company Novelty Media Inc.
SmartAd started in April 2019, and Bulgaria was selected as a test market.
Philip Tchipev, co-founder at Novelty Media Inc., told us more about the service and its revolutionary idea.
|The co-founder at Novelty Media Inc., Philip Tchipev, simultaneously holds the positions of global VP Operations and Managing Director for Bulgaria. He has 14 years of experience in the management of multicultural and multinational teams and companies in the fields of telecommunications, IT and advertising. He has completed his university education in France and holds two Master’s degrees.|
What was the idea that SmartAd started with?
We realized there is a necessity for a product like SmartAd thanks to our extensive knowledge of mobile marketing and telecom services. We wanted to enrich mobile marketing and create a brand new experience related to delivery of visual content, thus reaching smartphone users by utilizing the free, untapped-so-far potential.
Our goal was to turn the most impactful smartphone usage instances into an opportunity to watch marketing content and to create a space to display it on mobile devices, so that the brand message always stays on top of the consumer’s mind in a novel, uninstrusive way.
|We are offering a new global communication channel allowing advertisers to reach real users and be able to precisely target whom to address at any given moment.|
Please explain how the service works.
First, the user needs to download the free of charge SmartAd app on their smartphone from Google Play Store or Huawei App Gallery. Then, they should sign up and state their age, gender, location, marital status, interests. Once the profile has been created, the user will start seeing advertising and non-advertising content, maximum once per hour, within four basic routine instances of smartphone usage, namely: upon screen unlocking, upon an incoming call, upon an outgoing call, after completion of a call. This content is a 5-8 second clickable video or a static image.
The campaigns can be related to brand awareness, product launch or product offerings. The content can be adapted to the timing of display and can include targeted communication: age/product/hour or targeted storytelling.
What needs do you meet with this new digital media?
Most of all, we should point out that our service is based on three pillars – users, advertisers and telecom operators. For each of them, we meet a different need. For the user, it is related to the fact that we make mobile communications more affordable and the user gets a bonus, something tangible. Whether, as is the case in Bulgaria, this will be data, or in other markets – mobile TV, a streaming platform subscription or SMS packages– whatever the options, users get something additional. As for advertisers and content creators, we give them the opportunity to have a fresh and innovative, purely local, medium based on attracting users’ attention, and to telecom operators – we give the opportunity to create their own, impactful communication channel. All three parties get new opportunities and a medium, and are unthinkable without each other.
To date, 400 000 smartphone users with Android OS in Bulgaria have downloaded the SmartAd app
You are saying that you are changing the media and advertising market – how exactly?
By launching a new global communication channel enabling advertisers to reach real users and to precisely target whom to address at any given moment.
What was the most challenging part during the development and integration?
We started working on SmartAd in the second half of 2017. The process of design, software development and creation of a marketing strategy for the service launch took us about 18 months. It is a non-stop process and a constantly evolving one, adapting to the market specifics and needs.
There are incredible challenges from all perspectives. From a technical point of view, the ocean of Android devices was a challenge. Actually, at the very beginning, we started with a segmented way of design
Following a few months’ tests, we realized there was no way for this to work and it would limit the product development.
With help from Google we entered into the core of Android, so that whatever device is used, it could work with our app seamlessly. In a similar way we solved also the issue with Huawei and very easily adapted SmartAd to Huawei App Gallery.
From advertisers’ point of view, COVID-19 was a huge challenge because during the pandemic, there has been a considerable withdrawal of budgets and uncertainty. On a daily basis, we are faced with the challenge to convince the smaller agencies to trust the new channel, whereas together with the bigger agencies, we cooperate to attract their big clients.
As for the operators – the challenge was to show them that it is a working business model, that this app makes sense not only as their very own communication channel, but also as a new revenue stream provider.
|Attention and engagement in our case are way higher than the industry norm.|
What exactly is this new channel and how is the advertising served by you different?
Above all, this is an innovative channel that doesn’t suffer from the shortcomings of traditional digital positioning. What we mean is: if we go to a website on the Internet, we will see a banner on the left, right, top, bottom, the user does not concentrate on any marketing message, and when they scroll immediately – the ad will stop being visible.
The same thing happens on Facebook, therefore viewership there is extremely low. We offer something unseen so far from this perspective – we position solely the content of the respective advertiser on the screen. This means that the user sees only the message intended for them.
It is extremely important that at the time of ad serving, user attention is 100% on the screen, because SmartAd is designed this way. The attention and engagement in our case are way higher than the industry norm. Besides, by default and by design of the technology, we provide guaranteed Brand Safety – the advertiser can be sure that their message will not appear in an article or video with inappropriate content, with which it could be associated as a result. Something else which is guaranteed is that users are unique, there is a person behind each served ad and this cannot be different. We know at any given time how many real users we have who have seen an ad.
In short – one gains unprecedented visibility, precise targeting, snack-sized and easily digestible content that does not go unnoticed, 100% exclusivity on screen, 100% in-view impressions, 92% viewed impressions (the average standard adopted by IAB for Bulgaria is 50-55%), no content buffering, no competition for audience’s attention, real users only, fast reach (number of unique users) and frequency of display of the advertising message, guaranteed brand safety already at the design stage, fraud-proof, full transparency and third-party verification via DoubleVerify, as well as full compliance with GDPR requirements.
What are the client reviews so far?
With our 100% Brand Safety and 100% visibility, we definitely managed to impress the biggest clients such as Ferrero, Coca-Cola, Heineken, BILLA, OMV, Shell, Petrol, Mastercard, Volkswagen, L’Oréal, Rowenta, Tefal, Dr. Oetker, Alcatel, Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus, Deezer, Boiron, Sanofi, GSK, UniCredit Bulbank, Generali, BNP Paribas, Raiffeisen, Ariana, Zagorka, Kamenitza, Burgasko.
One of the biggest metrics of achieving the KPIs for a large number of advertisers is that the client always has follow-up campaigns.
Why is there lack of trust and sometimes decisions take time?
The biggest challenge for the agencies and advertisers is that we are a new channel. To take a step aside – whether in business or in life, is not always easy. Each change is challenging. However, when we see the results, when advertisers complete campaigns with us and see the high engagement of their clients, they get interested because they realize that we practically outperform the industry standards by far.
Earlier I mentioned that SmartAd is fraud-free by design. There is no way to use bots or similar in our channel to generate views. Users are real people – mobile subscribers – and the service is offered in their telecom operator’s network.
Does SmartAd have competitors and what is your company’s business model?
The truth is, we don’t have direct competition. SmartAd is not similar to Google, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, etc., regardless of some analogies; we are quite a different channel.
The main business model is based on revenue sharing. The idea is the following: we are the bridge between the advertisers, who pay for publication of their ad, and the operator, who provides the incentive for the user.
The most important part of the model is that SmartAd is offered on the market in partnership with telecom operators. They know how to recruit an audience and have earned its trust. Telecom operators provide the service as their own and give bonuses to users, who, in turn, watch content.
|What is earned is unprecendented viewability, precise targeting, snack-sized and easily digestible content, which doesn’t go unnoticed, 100% exclusivity on screen, 100% in-view impressions, no content buffering|
How do the numbers for 2021 look?
To date, about 400 000 users of smartphones with Android operating system in Bulgaria have downloaded the SmartAd app (about 7% of the total number of Android phones in Bulgaria).
As for revenue – in Bulgaria we are experiencing stable growth (2020/2021 + 80% YoY growth).
What are your plans for development in the coming years?
In Bulgaria, we are focusing on recruiting more and more advertisers and content creators – we have ideas to increasingly develop such, in order to make our service more interesting.
Globally, the plans for 2022 include the launch of SmartAd on 3 new markets. By 2025, we plan for the service to will be available in 25 countries, with annual revenues expected to exceed $400 million.
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