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Social commerce to reinvent future, says Sunny Kataria of OLX

After witnessing 54% YoY growth after the lockdown, OLX Advertising is anticipating similar growth this year as well. It has also witnessed 30% growth in daily active users from pre-Covid peak

Sunny Kataria

Keeping a keen eye on social commerce, online marketplace OLX has identified it as one of its growth areas and has started putting in efforts around the segment, Sunny Kataria, Head Commercial Excellence, OLX India, said in an exclusive interview to

“I think social commerce is the next-gen trend and it's expected to reinvent the future of commerce. We have started putting in a lot of efforts around creating data-driven marketing, digital transformation of brands, and social commerce. We have started working in these areas and have identified them as growth areas for us. Our broad understanding is that the first thing you need is deep data mining to determine what kind of engagement you want between the buyers and sellers for social commerce,” said Kataria.

Social commerce involves the sale of third-party products within a social media platform. According to a report by RedSeer Consulting, social commerce is expected to grow to $7 billion (around Rs 51,703 crore) in gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2025.

“We expect these new verticals to blossom in the next few years and take shape. The whole culture of OLX is a little bit of social commerce. You post things you want to sell online. And if I want to buy something and I find a used item is available, then I'll be more than happy to walk over to your house, pay you the money and take it. Social commerce is inherently a part of classifieds,” he added.

OLX Advertising, after witnessing 54% YoY growth post lockdown, is anticipating further growth of a similar trend this year as well. “During the Covid-induced lockdown, a lot of people moved online and we saw phenomenal growth— roughly about 30% more daily active users (DAUs) from our previous pre-Covid peak. We see the growth continuing. That has translated into more advertisers coming to us. Our projections are that we are going to hold steady and we are growing on a month-on-month basis,” he said.

During the pandemic-induced lockdown, with most forms of traditional medium becoming unavailable, marketers switched to digital formats for advertising. OLX Advertising also benefited from this with more brands advertising on their platform across categories.

“We have seen a sweeping shift in favour of digital consumption. Auto is a very important vertical for us and in auto specifically, we have seen a lot of brands experimenting with new forms of content such as interactive banners, video ads, AR/ VR. All major automotive brands such as Volvo, BMW, Toyota, Bajaj and Tata Motors are active on our platform and have been engaging with us for a long time,” he said.

OLX Advertising assists brands to tailor their ads depending on their requirements. If the creative brief and messaging are decided by the clients, then they focus on campaign optimisation. They have an in-house team that can help the clients design, ideate; supports creatives and facilitates them with targeting as well. The clients can advertise through display native banners, video assets, and rich media.

“We handhold them throughout their entire journey in terms of campaign creation and targeting of audiences. We have various cohorts that you can target in terms of geos or categories such as car seller or mobile phone seller. We have huge amounts of first-party data that helps brands to customise their campaigns to create maximum impact. A brand can put adverts on our platform through direct sales as well as programmatic channels,” said Kataria.

Speaking about the challenges of marketing OLX Advertising to their clients, Kataria said, “The digital transformation is happening at a very rapid pace and for any digital platform to remain relevant, you need to be ready to disrupt everything and formulate the whole thing again. The way we are changing in terms of artificial intelligence, voice assistant, home assistance, smart watches, smart glasses, I think advertising is also going to follow these things. Each platform needs to either invent or at least catch up with these digital interventions. This takes up an extensive amount of time as well as resources from us. But since we are a global company, we look at these challenges and obstacles with keen interest. We look at European as well as western trends and try to make sure that we use our global scale to have innovative products all the time.”

OLX has a base of over six million daily active users and every listed item on average gets 15+ replies within seven days from interested buyers. On average, users spend up to 16-and-a-half minutes on the site.

“It's very high in terms of engagement and when users come on our platform they have decided to make a transaction. So our offerings are very different from other platforms because we have a very engaged and very high intent audience. It is an extremely sticky platform.

“Users come to the platform because they are successful, there is high liquidity, and for a wide variety. We have around 15,000 used cars posted on a daily basis. Any car buyer who is in the market to buy a used car will definitely end up being on OLX at some point or the other. This kind of audience and rich first-party data that we provide to our advertisers is completely unparalleled,” said Kataria.

According to research conducted by them, around 90% of mobile phone sellers said they were selling their phones as they were buying a new phone soon. This makes the size of the audience large and extremely relevant to advertise. On the buyers' side, around 50% buyers looking for used cars were also engaging on the new car front, which means they had not decided whether they want to buy a new car or a used car.

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