Publicis Groupe has announced a $ 15-million (approximately Rs 90 crore) investment in Jana Mobile, a rewards platform that offers mobile airtime in emerging markets.
This is the first direct investment Publicis Groupe has made in a mobile technology start up. With this, Maurice Levy, charmain and CEO, Publicis Groupe will join Jana’s board of directors. Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer, VivaKi, will join Jana’s board of advisors.
Levy said, “I have been personally attracted and convinced to invest directly in this platform as I see it as the next big thing in the communication industry. Consumers in these dynamic markets are spending 10 percent of their daily income on mobile airtime, while global advertisers are spending more than $150 billion to reach them through traditional advertising channels.”
Boston-headquartered Jana claims integration into billing systems of 237 mobile operators, reaching consumers in 102 countries, including India. The platform can be configured to reward consumer actions like trial (registration, app downloads), engagement (watching a video, uploading a photo), advocacy (refer a friend), and product purchase (airtime rebates). Jana also gathers data about consumers and their behavior, informed an official statement.
He added, “With its platform, Jana is changing the face of advertising by enabling us to invest in targeted, mobile-based campaigns that put advertising dollars directly into the pockets of the ‘next billion’ consumers our clients are most eager to reach. As a result, brands become more valuable to people, and people become more economically empowered. I am confident that Jana will help consumers in those markets to have a better life.”
Clients can also target offers to Jana’s membership, which is amassed through a platform called mCent. In exchange for participating in an offer, such as filling out a survey or purchasing a product, members are rewarded with mobile airtime. Over the past six months, mCent claims to have registered more than six million opt-in members, with over a million joining every month.
Nathan Eagle, co-founder and CEO, Jana Mobile said, “Our self-serve product, launching today, enables anyone to send airtime in over 70 currencies to billions of emerging market consumers. Our partnership with Publicis Groupe brings value that goes far beyond a financial investment. Their vision, advertising expertise and client relationships will undoubtedly create even more opportunities for our members to earn airtime through our platform.”
Tobaccowala, along with his advisory role with Jana Mobile, will lead the ventures practice.
He said, “As a digital accelerator for Publicis Groupe, VivaKi comes in contact with many pioneering companies that empower us to move faster into key markets and develop new products with unparalleled efficiency. The Jana relationship will help us disrupt traditional ad models and connect our clients to the world’s fastest growing populations where mobile adoption is far outpacing other technologies.”
Investors in Jana include Todd Dagres (Spark Capital), Rohini Chakravarty (NEA), Jon Miller (AOL / News Corp), Paul Sagan (Akamai) and Esther Dyson.