Anuj Khanna shares how consumers helped navigate Affle’s journey towards innovation – Singapore Business Review

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Affle delivers end-to-end solutions for mobile advertising

The company also enables offline companies in their online aspirations.

Affle won the award for Mobile Advertising at the recently concluded Technology Excellence Awards presented by Singapore Business Review.

In an interview, Anuj Khanna Sohum, Founder, Chairman & CEO at Affle, shares how the company started and how consumers helped navigate Affle’s journey towards innovation.

What’s the inspiration behind Affle?

Consumers have been at the core of our business since our inception and one of our patents has “Consumer Acceptable Advertising” included in the title and that is the inspiration behind Affle. As an entrepreneur all my adult life, I am passionate about tech innovations, I co-founded Anitus Technologies Pte. Ltd. and Seclore Technology Private Limited before Affle. When the idea of Affle was crystallised, the early founding team had no advertising background, but one thing we felt certain was that people would spend a lot of time on their mobile phones and advertisers would want to reach out to consumers on it.

Affle has evolved as a consumer intelligence driven global tech business. Affle has grown in terms of scale and consumer intelligence with its data management platform, mDMP, and in terms of dealing with non-human traffic and preventing fraud with its fraud detection and prevention platform, mFaaS.

Our mFaaS platform helps to detect fraud on a real time basis, thus minimising wastage of marketing spend. It processes large volumes of click and conversion data using multiple algorithms to detect patterns of indicative or definitive fraud. We believe mFaaS sets us apart from our competitors as it offers a real time solution for addressing fraud, which is a major concern for online advertising. mFaaS also helps advertising agencies, advertising networks and publishers to optimise the spend on marketing for their customers by helping weed out significant amounts of fraudulent traffic. Affle has filed 10 patent applications in relation to mFaaS in India, all of which are still pending.

Affle also provides end-to-end solutions for enterprises to enhance their engagement with mobile users, such as developing apps, enabling offline to online commerce for offline businesses with e-commerce aspirations and providing enterprise grade data analytics for online and offline companies.

How is your innovation different from others?

Affle simplifies and unifies the fragmented ad tech ecosystem by providing an end-to-end integrated platform for mobile marketing powered by consumer intelligence algorithms. We are one of the very few companies that have products spanning across the entire value chain in mobile advertising, be it DMP (data management platforms), DSP (demand side platforms) and SSP (supply side platforms), fraud detection or ad network. Whilst some companies are more focussed on buy-side platforms, others are focused on the publisher side1.

Affle’s end-to-end tech solutions are not just enabling consumers with what they do online but also potentially enabling them with what they do offline. With our recently concluded acquisition of Shoffr, Affle Group (Affle (India) Limited, Affle International and PT Affle Indonesia) has strengthened its proposition in online to offline domain with the ability to convert online traffic into in-store walk-ins and transactions. In the last 12 months, Affle Group has successfully acquired three tech businesses, i.e., Shoffr (February 2019), Markt (March 2018) and Vizury (September 2018).

Whilst we help advertisers in new user acquisition, we deeply care about consumers and their experience, and not only do we use consumer data responsibly, we also deal with non-human data (authorized) properly.

Affle’s mTraction CDP is accredited under the Accreditation@SG Digital (SG:D) programme by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), a Singapore government statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information. Factors considered for technical assessment include a security assessment, reliability and usability and maintainability assessment. Business sustainability, scalability, leadership and management are other areas of assessment. Our accreditation by IMDA strengthens our belief that we follow the highest standards in product development, business practices, data security and scalability.

How has Affle’s journey been so far?

Affle started its business in Singapore in 2005 and in India in 2006 and the journey has been quite satisfying. Today, we have six offices located in Singapore, Indonesia, Dubai and India with our client base spread across India, other emerging markets (which comprises Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and others) and developed markets (which comprises North America, Europe, Japan, Korea and Australia). We believe that our stable senior management team has helped us in successfully implementing our development and operating strategies over the years which is proven with continued support from top global clients, including established e-commerce companies, fin-tech, telecom, media, retail and FMCG companies & global ad agencies.

During this journey, Affle Holding Pte Ltd. has won the trust of several notable investors, such as Microsoft, D2C Inc. (a subsidiary of NTT DoCoMo), Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. and Itochu Corporation.

We believe we have built a strong foundation in 13 years and if the foundations are strong, you can grow tall and go far. And with the digital evolution of economies globally, we believe we are at the helm of an exciting journey to help our partners in their digital transformation.

How is Affle working with online & offline companies and brands?

We help brands to acquire new users and drive transactions on mobile; re-engage with existing users to drive incremental transactions on mobile; and to map the online to offline journeys by driving footfalls in retail stores.

Within last 12 months, our proposition has been strengthened with three major acquisitions. The most recent being “Shoffr Platform,” an omnichannel platform that converts online traffic into in-store walk-ins and transactions. Another in September 2018, “Vizury Commerce platform” that provides retargeting media business and push notification offerings for e-commerce companies on a SaaS model. And Markt which is an offline to online commerce enabler that was acquired by Affle Global Pte Ltd in March 2018.

Are there other areas (or markets) that you want to tap?

Our key markets are India, other Emerging Markets (which comprises Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and others) and Developed Markets (which comprises North America, Europe, Japan, Korea and Australia). We are looking to expand our international business through local business development efforts and through referrals from our existing customers.

What does it mean for you to win in the Technology Excellence Awards?

It feels great when the industry recognizes our technology innovations; we have made significant R&D investments towards addressing pertinent issues like data privacy and ad fraud. Such coveted global recognitions continue to inspire us towards industry leadership.

The Technology Excellence Awards, presented by Singapore Business Review, was held on 30 May 2019 at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.

This year’s nominations were judged by a panel consisting of Cheang Wai Keat, Head of Advisory, Ernst & Young LLP; Darwin Thio, Director, Cybersecurity & Technology Services, Nexia TS; Daryl Pereira, Head of Cybersecurity, KPMG; Evelyn Lim, Executive Director, Tax Advisory, BDO LLP; and Jonathan Kok, Co-Head of Technology, Media & Communications Industry Group, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP.