An Interview session with Mr. Kshitij Sooryavanshi, Director and Co-founder at Kritter, a company providing digital advertising platforms to businesses across the world.
He shares with us how the advent of programmatic advertising has made reaching out to the end user quite easier reducing the advertiser’s risk and increasing their ROI. He also shares that how digital marketing in India has become more relevant than ever and that the market in India, which is not mature, has been a blessing in disguise for them. With the lesser know how & awareness about digital platforms, the opportunity is very big.
Question: How has the Indian audience responded to Kritter’s entry in the country? Could you please share some numbers?
Answer: We are a digital advertising platform provider. The platform we provide helps our customers monetize their ad inventory better while making it economical for them. So our potential customers are where advertising spends are high and margins or returns are better. Though in India we’ve done some business in India but the market size is relatively smaller than the other more mature markets as that of US & Europe, where we have got maximum traction. However, the fact that the market in India is not mature has been a blessing in disguise for us in a way. Since there is lesser know how and awareness about digital marketing in the country, the opportunity is very big! And we do plan to harness that.
Question: Tell us something about your journey till here – before and after the launch of Kritter? What prompted you to start your own venture; you were anyway drawing a very handsome salary?
Answer: We are 4 founders – Arjun (Head of Business Development & sales), Rohan (Leads all things data & related to scale), Vikrant (Handles the ad serving & optimization part of the platform) and I work on the machine learning aspects of the platform. Though all of us had a desire for launching a venture from long before but we were in the hunt of the right set of people before breaking away from whatever we had been doing. Luckily all of us were colleagues in the previous company and the fact that we wanted freedom & more clarity into what we were doing was the main reason that prompted us to launch Kritter among all other reasons. So one fine day, we decided to take the plunge and looking at the ubiquity of internet & mobile handhelds, we settled on launching a company providing digital advertising platform to businesses across the world.
Question: Did you need to customize your offerings for the audience in India?
Answer: Every customer is different and all of them have a vision of what they want to use the digital advertising platform for. Having the platform is like having a mechanic’s toolkit. There are a lot of things that you can do with little to no customizations. So yes, we’ve had to do some customizations for Indian audience. The behavior of Indian audience is very different from that of US or European or Australian audience. We’ve had to tweak our models a little and the kind of offering we’re making to Indian customers so as to find the best resonance among them.
Question: How productive is digital marketing in a country like India according to you?
Answer: As has been talked about extensively, the fact that we’ve leapfrogged the entire PC revolution and directly jumped to using mobiles makes India a very unique market. Mobile audience is very different and user behavior changes drastically when you move from PC to mobiles. Also as the mobile penetration is increasing in tier 2-3 cities and smaller towns and rural areas, digital marketing is become more and more relevant. Gone are the days when it was almost impossible to reach more than 30% of the population without prohibitive costs. This revolution has made it really easy for companies to reach out to their audience while making sure that the cost they bear is very low. Even our current central government is making use of technology to reach out to the people in a more effective and efficient manner. Digital marketing in India is more relevant than ever and we’re blessed to be able to contribute something to it.
Question: Did you face any challenge in reaching out and engaging with the digital audience? If yes, please share the main challenges?
Answer: With the advent of programmatic advertising, reaching out to the end user has become easier than before. Programmatic has de-coupled the demand and supply sides, and now the technology companies are finding it easier to focus on one side of the solution and devise better solutions for their customers. We have clients who want to reach out to new audience that were previously either very costly to reach or were unavailable completely. It has so happened that programmatic has made the discovery and engagement cost lesser while also increasing the visibility into what kind of audience you want to reach out to. There is no need today to bulk buy all the traffic on an entire site when one can pick and choose what users to target. This gives incentive to the publishers to ensure high quality on their websites since that drives their revenue up. On the other hand it reduces the advertiser’s risk and increases their ROI.
Question: Our readers would like to know about your plans about the new offerings especially those that you have for the Indian audience, in the immediate future?
Answer: As mentioned earlier, we’re a B2B company that caters to businesses that want to spend on advertising to create their brand awareness. We deal with technical challenges which are an order of magnitude different from what you usually hear about. We’ve recently launched our video advertising platform where you can show video ads to users on your websites or app. The integration for that is a breeze and people have been liking it thus far. We’re also planning to invest more heavily into the programmatic, video and audio ad spaces and try to unify the disparate domains that exist within advertising.
Question: What do you make of the entry of your potential rivals into India?
Answer: Technically, there are a lot of companies which are in the same business as us. However, our business model differentiates us from the others. We’re providing on-location ad tech platform to our customers. Most other companies are into SaaS. So, we don’t have a direct competitor in the market this far. This has been both good and bad for us. Good since we are pretty much the only player in our market and that we haven’t had to compete with anyone else to get attention and time from our potential clients. Bad as in we haven’t had any precedent. There hasn’t been any case study for us so that we would learn from someone else’s experience.
Queston: Any message to young entrepreneurs to help them learn something from your experience?
Answer: A very common mistake that budding entrepreneurs make is underestimating the competition and the difficulty of running business. What I want to convey is do a proper market study and not take it lightly. Don’t rely on anecdotal evidence. The experiences an individual has had are not necessarily a reflection of the market. Try to gather as much data about the market as possible. Rely on your gut feeling but always back it up with data, analysis and logic as much as possible. Be ready to change directions. Don’t get emotionally invested in an idea. Learn to recognize if the idea you started out with is not working well and be ready to change directions. Don’t lose heart if things don’t go according to plan. As someone wise once said, plans are bad but planning is good. Take the plunge, work hard and most importantly make sure that you enjoy what you’re doing. And anyway don’t forget that the most crucial & expensive thing for running a business that was marketing your business has now become one of the most cost effective things with the help of digital marketing.