What started off as an advertising business model for passengers inside vehicles in March -- "The boring platform"-- rapidly pivoted to a digital advertising platform focusing on outdoor advertisements since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Bangladesh.
Curious minds might wonder why a company would lean on to such a strategy during a time when the majority population restrained from going out of their houses to curb the spread of the virus.
Its founders also had the same concerns when they switched from "The boring platform" to "Dokane Dokane Ad" (DDAD).
However, one of the Co-Founders, Rafi Ahmed said, "After some research, we figured that 80 percent sales of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) were still coming from retail stores even during the pandemic."
According to him, a chunk of FMCG sales have shifted online and Covid-19 played a big role behind it.
But modern (online) trade still accounts for a very small percentage of FMCG sales.
Rebirth of a marketing strategy
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill for months.
Brands began cutting their marketing budgets as sales began to drop and out-of-home advertising platforms - billboards, banners, posters, newspapers - became ineffective.
Even so, there was little to no impact of Covid-19 on retail shops.
After all, people will need to purchase necessary goods no matter how intense the situation gets.
The DDAD team sought this opportunity and began approaching retail shops with an innovative marketing scheme that benefits both parties.
While explaining, Rafi said, "Most FMCG brands leverage small retailers as most sales come from such shops. This makes retailers very important stakeholders for big FMCG brands."
What does DDAD do?
DDAD innovates the traditional marketing methods by replacing banner, poster, and sticker advertisements with a dynamic way of communicating brand messages.
This start-up installs television screens in retail shops allowing FMCG brands to run marketing campaigns using modern web applications at DDAD's partnered retail shops.
The system is entirely cloud-based and clients can run campaigns simultaneously across all partner shops in the city.
"We provide clients with real-time data - they can track and monitor their campaign throughout the day," mentioned Rafi.
What features does DDAD offer to clients?
Clients can avail user accounts from DDAD. They can browse through campaign options and upload videos just like they do on social media platforms.
They can select their preferred stores from a list that has been categorised according to the shops' geographical location.
When clients log in to their dashboards, they can analyse the number of people visiting the shops where the campaigns are being run.
DDAD offers monthly packages based on zones in slots of 30-minute's screen time to clients throughout the day.
Rafi believes their business model allows brands to efficiently communicate with customers at a competitive price.
To this, another Co-Founder, Ishfak M Rafi, said, "Our features are not critical, but people are accustomed to working in traditional methods and it can be challenging to make them go out of their way even though it is beneficial for them."
What challenges is DDAD facing?
"Educating the market about the product is very challenging. After Covid-19, all brands have cut their marketing spending. We entered the market at such a time where people will be more hesitant to experiment with a new platform," said Rafi.
According to Ishfak, it can be very hard to convince shop owners to adapt to this new concept of digital marketing.
"Clients are concerned about our shops' location, how much footfall they are having, whether they have their products in our shops, where the monitors are being placed (whether it is visible enough)," added Ishfak.
Overall, DDAD aims to make the marketing process easier for marketers.
Blending marketing with technology, this start-up wants to make a data-driven tool that can help brands handle outdoor marketing using just a smartphone.
Rafi believes this will not only reduce brands' operational cost but also enhance the ability to track, measure, and monitor their branding and brand communication anytime from any place.
"We want to introduce new dynamic out-of-home platforms. There is a lot of space to work with since technology is advancing so fast. The dynamic platforms we want to introduce will come with powerful algorithms in place that can track the effectiveness of the marketing campaign and suggest brands which types of platforms are working the best for them," said Rafi.
DDAD's future plan
The DDAD team is currently carrying out many research and development activities with a hope to introduce AI tools that can further ease a marketer's marketing journey.
They are working on eyeball tracking and face detection device that can help brands analyse how long customers watch the ads. They will also come up with smart IoT devices that can enhance a campaign's effectiveness by a huge margin.
Currently, DDAD is working with 150 partners (retail stores) – 100 shops in Mirpur and the other 50 spread across Lalmatia, Mohammadpur, Green Road, and adjacent areas.
To know more, visit:- http://ddad-bd.com