VENTURES AFRICA – In this week’s edition of Africa’s Most Innovative Companies, Oduntan Odubanjo, co-founder of Nigerian mobile advertising revolution Twinpine, tells Ventures Africa about the potential of mobile advertising for brands operating in the African market, and the company’s rapidly happening pan-continental expansion.
Launched as an arm of the Terragon Group – a Lagos-based new media firm – in 2011, Twinpine entered the business space in Nigeria with a vision of empowering brands to effectively reach their customers.
Identifying mobile devices as key tools to both African businesses and consumers, Twinpine realised the potential of connecting the two parties via mobile, and the concept for the premium mobile advertising space was born, and has flourished in the increasingly mobile market.
“[Mobile is] a fascinating space to be in right now. The prices of mobile phones are falling, data is getting cheaper, and smartphone uptake is on the rise. It’s the primary device for accessing the Internet for over 60 percent of the population,” Odubanjo says, describing the business environment.
“Mobile is the game changer across several industries and we’re seeing it happen in mobile advertising,” he adds.
In addition to taking the advertising business mobile, however, Twinpine has also upped the stakes by creating a “premium” feel to the services provided – attracting big brand customers such as Nokia, MTN, Google, Pepsi, Guinness, P&G, Etisalat, UBA, Samsung, Ecobank, Stanbic, Blackberry and KFC through this high-level service.
“This [the premium service] ensures the right ads are matched to the right audience and the brand or publisher’s reputation is not harmed by any inappropriate placements – for example many brands would not want to appear on gambling sites and over-21 sites,” Odubanjo says explaining the premium concept, which is still relatively unheard of on the African market.
“Throughout the course of each campaign, we liaise with customers to develop their mobile campaign strategy and ensure they are pleased with the click through and conversion rates,” he adds.
The company also ensures that 24 hours per day support is available for customers, and the company stands on hand to re-work campaigns in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Twinpine has seen significant growth since its inception, quickly becoming a profit making company and attracting a continuous stream of requests, to such an extent that the company has already been able to launch operations on the Kenyan and Ghanaian markets.
Not only does Twinpine serve brands, but the company also supports top Nigerian mobile publishers, Odubanjo explains.
“We help these publishers grow and optimise their mobile content by developing and deploying mobile solutions such as SMS, mobile sites and applications development, mobile browser integration and social media integration.”
As a relatively new organisation, Twinpine’s plans for the up-coming years include solidifying the company’s Africa-specific offering and expanding further across the continent.
“Our vision remains to enable brands, agencies and businesses effectively reach their target audience with their message via mobile advertising channels with desired conversions in return,” Odubanjo says with regard to company’s plans, adding: “We will focus on developing localized solutions and initiatives that will exceed the demands of advertisers in the African region.”
Despite the success that Twinpine has enjoyed throughout its early operations, the co-founder admits there are always challenges to setting up a business, particularly in an African context.
“Cash flow is key in business and not having access to funding has been difficult for several companies. In the online advertising business for example, advertisers tend to pay after the campaign sometimes as late as 60 days yet publishers need to get paid monthly. A company without access to funds and no cash in the bank will likely fail for this singular reason,” Odubanjo notes.
“[Africa] is also a peculiar market. Many businesses have tried to copy ideas from other parts of the world and found them not to work here in Africa. That shows that more effort needs to go into building useful and relevant products for the continent,” he advises.
So, what should the most important consideration of any start-up leader be?
“…if I was to say one thing, it will be discipline. It’s absolutely important in business especially business in Africa,” Odubanjo concludes.