It was way past noon on a summer day and the weather was blazing hot.
After finishing her work, Kanta hopped on a bus to go home.
To her irritation, the bus got stuck in a long traffic jam.
Suddenly, she noticed that something interesting was playing on the television monitor at the front of the bus. She turned her attention to that.
First there was a small clip showing how to knot your tie within five seconds. Then there was an advertisement for a cold drink.
When the bus reached her destination, Kanta had already watched the advertisement several times.
When she got out of the bus, she went to a store to buy that specific cold drink.
Little did Kanta know that this new breed of advertisement that had convinced her to buy the cold drink was created by AALO – a digital advertising platform. Aalo has found a new way to package traditional advertisements with useful videos so that viewers are not drawn away from them.
Aalo offers this service to different businesses, government organisations, and individuals. The content and promotions are played on television monitors on buses.
Usually a one-minute long video is played alongside a one-minute advertisement.
Till date, AALO has installed 100 monitors on different buses.
The advertisements are played without audio so that passengers are not disturbed and instead come with Bangla subtitles.
Shuvojit Das, Chairman of AALO, used to waste four hours on the road every day due to traffic jam. According to a report by World Bank, traffic congestion in Dhaka wastes around 3.2 million working hours daily.
Shuvojit started to think how he could make use of these wasted hours.
Later, he discussed it with his friends and they built AALO in 2018.
AALO received its seed funding from Bangladesh Venture Capital Limited and now it is also working with Robi Axiata Limited as a partner.
All these did not happen in one day, however.
Pitching the idea of using wasted work hours in traffic and then executing it in reality was a tough journey.
To accomplish their goal, the co-founders did field work for six long months.
At the same time, they planned and categorised advertisements, and also convinced the bus owners in the meantime.
"At the beginning, convincing the bus owners was like conquering the Mount Everest. They were not ready to welcome this digital platform," shared Samyamay Howlader Niloy, Head of Marketing and Branding at AALO.
After convincing the owners, they arranged workshops for bus drivers and helpers so that they could get accustomed with the platform.
"While making content, we keep in mind that we need to hold the viewers' attention longer so that they cannot distinguish between learning and just watching advertisements. AALO stands for advertisement, awareness, learning, and opportunity; these are our four basic pillars." said Shuvojit.
AALO shares information with clients through the AALO app, which discloses the number of viewers, the exact time and also the number of times the advertisements were played.
Clients can also track the buses and check them in person if they want.
AALO offers different packages that start from Tk20,000 and it can go up to Tk1,00,000, depending on peak hour and the number of buses and viewers.
According to their own survey, 90 percent viewers have given positive feedback about this digital advertisement platform.
This whole process is under an automation system that AALO monitors from their office in Dhanmondi.
They are planning to add AI to their app to ensure other top-notch services, and they are building a well-rounded team to execute the business model.
"The buses working with AALO take the longest intercity routes, so I am sure every day a huge number of people watch the advertisements. I have received a good response after taking their service," said client Nazrul Islam Ibrahim, principal of Combined International School.
Currently, AALO is working with two bus companies and discussions with a few more are ongoing.
Though it was a struggle at the beginning, AALO is now getting better responses from different companies.
The pandemic made its 15 member team take a step back. However, the hard-working team has started working again.
AALO plans to cover entire Dhaka city with their monitors and take over the long-distance bus routes, and set more monitors at launch terminals and rail stations.