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Batooni to bring in advertiser-led utopia: co-founder Jitendra Chaturvedi

The app pays the consumers for watching small ads

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MUMBAI: Taking the charge to introduce an ‘advertiser-led utopia’, where not just brands and broadcasters but also consumers benefit from the communication, Jitendra Chaturvedi and Johnney Paul have launched an interesting advertising platform that pays the consumers for watching an ad. Called ‘Batooni’, this ‘hyperlocal video advertising ecosystem for mobile phones compensates the user for their time and attention.  The platform shifts some money from the advertisers’ pockets to the consumers and thus creates a robust system of brand recognition and customer satisfaction.

The ads on this platform are 8-10 seconds long and are played when a consumer makes a call from one’s phone using the Batooni dialer. The money is instantly transferred to the user’s account. In case one skips the ad neither does the money get transferred to the user and nor does the advertiser pay for it.

It was around 7-8 years back when Chaturvedi and Paul had first heard of this idea from a client at their brand communications company, theAgence, but it was only three years ago that the team started working on it.

Batooni director and co-founder Jitendra Chaturvedi told Indiantelevision.com, “We have been working on this idea for a little more than three years now. To be honest, the idea did not light up in our brains. A client with interest in mobile apps had come to us and this feature was a part of their suite. We tried to tell them that this can be huge but they did not pay much attention to us then and the idea just lingered.”

Chaturvedi believes that the idea has come into form just at the right time given the falling smartphone and data prices, and the consecutive increased mobile penetration. “If there was time for this concept to flourish, it is now. India alone has 300 million smartphone users, and even the advertising market is growing at a rate of 11 per cent. Mobile penetration is very high and the data prices are lower. So, this is the perfect time,” he said.

The app also segregates mobile ads from digital ads. Chaturvedi noted that most of the advertisers are treating mobile as a digital platform while the case is not necessarily true. He said that a banner or pop-up ad on the mobile screen doesn’t work well because of the dimensions and also the distraction they cause to the users as one is not in the control of choosing if one wants to see the ad or not. Batooni solves this problem as the user has an option to not use its dialer and save oneself from the hassle of closing or skipping the ad.

Chaturvedi also shared that the app has been getting a tremendous response after the initial phase of its launch that took place in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where it has got more than half a million registered users in just 60 days.

Batooni uses the pin-code information shared by the user, along with one’s age and sex to determine ads that can be relevant to them. An advertiser can use the built-in dashboard on the app to choose the target audience and also the number of times it wants the ad to air.

One may wonder that this might lead to sensitive information about a user leaking to the advertisers but Chaturvedi denies all the possibilities of anything like that happening. “The platform just stores your age, sex, and location. Nothing apart from that has to be revealed. The advertiser has no source of access to this information. It tells the app the age group and gender it wants to target in a specific area and can only see how many people watched its ads using Batooni. There is no point in the system from which the user or advertiser data can leak,” highlighted Chaturvedi.

With the app, Chaturvedi is not only looking at taking a share from the advertising pie, but also grow the pie as a whole. He shared that Batooni aims to bring more hyperlocal SMEs to the advertising track.

“Batooni is obviously good for MNCs but even SMEs can benefit from it. With this, we are taking the right to advertise to marginal businesses who by spending just a small amount of money can target more people,” Chaturvedi told the media.

Speaking about his own marketing plans for the platform, Chaturvedi mentioned for now only newspaper and radio advertising has been targetted. There hasn’t been any investment in television or digital.

“We have two kinds of consumers: the app-users and then the brands and agencies. I have different strategies for both of them. For the users on the app, we have come out with ads in newspapers and on the radio. We do just 2-3 ads a week in the paper as after the initial presentation, this idea has legs of its own. If you are earning some money using the platform, you are surely going to tell more about it,” said Chaturvedi. Even with this minimal approach to marketing, the app is getting 8000-10,000 people a day landing on it.

He further continued by revealing that for advertisers and agencies, Batooni is relying on its existing contacts. “With our earlier business, we have served brands like Unilever, Mahindra, and Tata Motors, etc. Also, my CMO is the former national marketing head for Dainik Bhaskar with a lot of medium-level relationships,” he noted.

The app will soon see its launch in cities like Delhi/NCR, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc., and will also be seen getting a foothold into international markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Currently, it allows the user to use the money earned, which can be as high as Rs 300 a month, for recharging mobile phones, but later Batooni is planning to introduce features like connecting it to an e-wallet or bank accounts, or donating to a charity. It will also introduce features like discounts and coupons for users and AI-led service to design template ads for the advertisers. “One thing that we certainly will not do is launch our own mall,” shared Chaturvedi.

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