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Traditional media to get lion’s share in ad spends for digital-first Truecaller

Manan Shah, Director of Marketing at Truecaller India, discusses how they find digital to be an over cluttered medium. He also talks about adex growth for the next year, and how there will be renewed interest of advertisers towards traditional media

Manan Shah

For most of the mobile applications, digital commands the maximum share of their advertising budget. However, for Truecaller, traditional medium is the first choice with 60% of the marketing share going to TV, print and OOH, while the rest 40% goes into digital.

BestMediaInfo caught up with Manan Shah, Director of Marketing at Truecaller India, to understand their overall marketing strategy and how the same will change for the coming year.

He said, “We've had decent budgets since the last couple of years as we've been doing good on the revenue side. Hence, our investments in terms of advertising and marketing have also been increasing. We should definitely be increasing our ad spends substantially for the next year. We continue to invest heavily in traditional media, there is no stopping us on that, we've sort of tasted blood when it comes to traditional media with print and outdoor. This year is actually when we've done our first print and outdoor. Traditional media will continue to get the lion's share of our spends, as opposed to being a digital first company, because on digital there's just too much clutter.”

He further explained how traditional mediums, including OOH and print, are not going anywhere even though there are talks of new Covid-19 variants being discovered.

“Digital, while it has its merits and is measurable, it's actually more cluttered than traditional media now. We utilise these media for their advantages and whenever we want mass reach, we look at television and print. Digital played as a cover for us, wherein it is providing us with a lot of recall and short snackable content that we are promoting around the brand campaign. I feel that TV, print, outdoors, these are not going to vanish anytime soon. Also, I don't see a third lockdown coming in and the mediums will not suffer as much as they had suffered in the first wave, probably, as now we are pretty well equipped, and we know how to get back to normal pretty quickly,” he said.

Shah also foresees a lot of new investments coming in from very different and interesting platforms next year, which will help revive the overall adex and take it back to the pre-Covid levels.

“There will be a lot of renewed interest in investments in terms of traditional media, which I'm already seeing. People will be willing to experiment a lot more, and find their own niche, and find their way to reach out to their audiences on these platforms. I don't see advertisers or marketers being afraid to invest anymore. I might not have a growth estimate for adex, but it should definitely be back to the pre-Covid levels,” he added.

From a strategy point of view, the app has two focus areas under marketing- first is to maintain a positive image for the brand. Second, which becomes more important moving forward next year, is to focus on the various products and features.

The brand in the past has been called out on various occasions as the ‘Chinese app’, and to fight the same it has consistently been investing at this front and has repeatedly tried to showcase how India is its ‘home country’, despite being a Swedish brand.

The app witnesses around 450 to 500,000 new users joining on a daily basis, on an average, and plans to continue its major investments in India.

Shah further shared that the app has actively been talking about women safety, and it is one of the major initiatives they’re focusing on.

“For the last five years, we've been creating awareness and conversations for this. Next year will be more about upping the ante, in terms of bringing more action because we don't want to be a brand that is opportunistic. In fact, women safety is an always on campaign for us. Our Guardians app is doing pretty well, it's scaling up pretty fast. So, there'll be a lot more focus on that. Truecaller provides safety in the digital world and Guardians provides safety in the real world,” he said.

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At the same time, it also plans to introduce more features and products next year.

It recently rolled out Version 12 with a new Video Caller ID feature addition, call recording, and a redesigned UI. To promote the same, Shah said that it has planned to associate with a few content platforms to educate users. It is looking at subtle integration with TVF, MX Player and a few upcoming Bollywood movies.

Other than advertising on various mediums and channels, Trucaller itself acts as a platform for other advertisers to promote themselves.

“We have seen a wide variety of advertisers coming on our platform, from FMCG companies, to auto manufacturers, to handset manufacturers, to technology companies, and even jewellery brands. There's a massive reach that we're able to provide them and we also have the third largest inventory available on phones in India. More importantly, we have a clutter free media that is created for advertisers to advertise on,” he said.

He said that the app follows a very strict policy when it comes to the kind of advertising it allows on its platform.

“We keep monitoring advertising quality on our app, on a real time basis. We have very strict filters in place in terms of what kind of advertising is allowed on our app. Since we work on open auction also, there are times when ads do get relayed through the other platforms. However, we keep a close watch and are very quick at making sure that we block such advertisers permanently,” he added.

Upon asking if it has witnessed any decline in ad rates or advertisers interest dipping amid the pandemic, Shah said, “Not really, but we did see a bit of a dip because the advertisers during the first wave were very conservative and sort of pushing back on their spends, rather holding back their spends. But we didn't really have to do any sort of discounting as we were able to provide advertisers with a value. These rates have been increasing pretty much in the same way how they used to increase before the pandemic.”

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