We’re mounting a strong defence against mobile app frauds: Affle CEO
This is a TechGig Exclusive Interview of Anuj Khanna Sohum, Founder, CMD and CEO, Affle (India) Ltd. Founded in 2005, Affle is a Microsoft-backed consumer intelligence company and has launched several mobile marketing products like ad2c, sms Live, ripple, mTraction, etc. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School (OPM), Stanford GSB (SEP) & NUS Computer Engineering.
In this interview, we draw from Anuj’s experience and ask him about how technology is redefining the mobile advertising space, what his company is doing to prevent mobile app frauds and improving the underrepresentation of women in technology.
#1. Please give us a brief background of Affle and the company’s journey so far.
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.
Affle is a global technology business with two business segments – Consumer Platform and Enterprise Platform. The former delivers consumer acquisitions, engagements and transactions through relevant mobile advertising and retargeting media business for e-commerce companies and the later 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.
Affle started its business in India in 2006 and the journey has been quite gratifying. 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).
#2.You are a profitable and a cash-positive company as of today. What do you think is the biggest reason for your success?
Affle’s Consumer Platform is the result of over 13 years of focused research and development and investment. The Platform is supported by a flexible and scalable infrastructure, built in-house using cloud computing infrastructure. It consists of our proprietary machine and deep learning algorithm for prediction and recommendation that operates in real time and at significant scale. Over time, as we have attracted more marketing budgets and delivered advertisements, our data assets have grown. As a result, the accuracy of our prediction and recommendation algorithm for our platform has improved, enabling us to deliver even more precisely targeted and personalised advertisements.
While 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.
We believe our extensive consumer profile data, proprietary technology and local knowledge makes us better placed compared to global peers to deliver profitability in India. And with the digital evolution of economies globally, we believe Affle is at the helm of an exciting journey to help our partners in their digital transformation.
#3. What are some of the emerging technologies that you are betting big on to drive growth in the future?
Mobile advertising can be simplified with the help of data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). With AI-based rules engine, companies can detect behaviour analysis from various sources and use that data to determine a user’s interests and if the user is a fraudulent user. With our data intelligence, machine learning infrastructure coupled with AI, we assist businesses in reaching out to the end user with our customized solutions.
ML & AI is the technology for future. The combination of mobile technology and ML/ AI is a success, as it helps in focused marketing and has the ability to register profits for the online business while creating a win-win situation for both.
Chatbots is another technology that many organizations are adopting these days. It enables a non-human interaction with the customer that provides solution to queries and help in engaging them while reflecting the brand’s personality.
#4. Finding quality talent in new and emerging technologies is becoming a major concern for companies today. Do you feel companies must think beyond conventional hiring mediums and explore new age avenues like the ongoing TechGig Code Gladiators 2019, a coding competition, where skilled tech talent is available in abundance?
Hiring is a challenge and innovative platforms like TechGig help in finding skilled tech talent in the country. We wish all the success to the participants at TechGig Code Gladiators 2019.
# 5.How is your platform addressing the rising concerns around mobile app frauds?
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. It detects and flags potentially fraudulent conversions and transactions on several reason codes, which include click spamming, conversion hijacking, app version frauds and BOT/simulator activity fraud types. The platform operating on real time utilizes three primary interventions as part of its detection technology – device-based detections, server-side detections, shared ledger detections over blockchain. It differentiates human and non-human interactions and also check for instances of click, install, event and IP address-based ad 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. The platform also helps advertising agencies, ad networks and publishers to optimise the spend on marketing for their customers by helping them weed out significant amounts of fraudulent traffic. Affle has filed 10 patent applications related to digital fraud in India, all of which are still pending.
# 6. Major Sonam Bakshi was recently appointed as the CHRO by your company. That’s a good move from a diversity and inclusion standpoint. What do you think needs to be done to improve the representation of women in technology?
We truly believe equality has a tangible impact on the bottom line. Affle is committed to hire and retain talent irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, religion, social, physical and cultural background. While we believe diversity alone isn’t enough without innovation and inclusion as the workplace is vastly diverse but unique perspectives aren’t heard, the impact is lost.
The representation of women in technology can be improved with flexible work-life policies and consistent mentoring and Affle has been leading this change on continuous basis. With Sonam on-board, our commitment is reinforced.