Broadcasting is now a global business, encompassing increasingly complex and expensive operations. The cloud computing is the silver bullet for the broadcast industry – it enables global operation scaling, worldwide distribution, and an overall reduction in infrastructural expenses. Amagi Media Labs has brought innovative solution through its patented technologies to the broadcasting industry.
The Media-tech company, Amagi was founded in 2008 by KA Srinivasan, Srividhya Srinivasan and Baskar Subramanian. Engineers by trade and entrepreneurs by passion, Amagi was their second venture after Impulsesoft, a Bluetooth audio solutions provider, later acquired by Sirf Technologies, a Nasdaq-listed semiconductor firm based in the US.
“Being classmates in college and colleagues at Texas Instrument, From a young age, we were clear that we wanted to do something of our own and of course in the field of technology,” says Srividhya Srinivasan, Co-founder, Amagi Media Labs.
After the acquisition of Impulsesoft, the trio began searching for the industry they could disrupt using their technical know-how and business acumen. And this clinical led to the identification of the broadcast industry as a space primed for disruption through technology and innovation. Having observed that the number of advertisers using print was 12 times more than those using TV, in spite of the latter having over five times the reach, the trio spotted a significant gap that needed to be addressed. Additionally, the increasing TV penetration in India and growing number of TV channels made it an attractive industry to be in. Soon after, Amagi was incubated at N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (IIM-B).
“After Impulsesoft, we were looking at 40-50 business models and were contemplating what our next venture should be. The idea behind floating Amagi was to revolutionize broadcasting and TV advertising. While other media like print, radio, digital and outdoor had geo-specific advertising, TV was national. On the one hand, TV is the most effective medium for mass communication. It is also extremely expensive. You could either advertise nationally, or you couldn’t advertise at all,” says Srinivasan.
The first decade in business has been about innovation and industry firsts. The Bengaluru-based startup claims to be world’s first cloud-managed broadcast services and targeted advertising solutions company, with deployments in over 40 countries, enabling TV networks to launch, operate, and monetize channels anywhere in the world.
“We also provide targeted advertising solutions to 4,000+ brands across traditional TV and OTT multi-screen platforms, shaping the future of advertising,” says Srinivasan.
Funds Rolling In
With successful deployments across 25 countries, Amagi is committed to investing in R&D and holds multiple patents in the targeted TV content space. Headquartered in Bangalore, Amagi has offices in New York, London, Tokyo, and Singapore. The company has witnessed a period of accelerated growth and attracted funding from VCs including Nadathur Investments, Mayfield and Premji Invest.
“We recently raised $35 million from Emrald Media backed by KKR and have investments from Azim Premji, Nadathur and Mayfield as well. Our focus is to add more value to everyone in the chain-be it, the broadcaster or the advertiser,” says Srinivasan.
When the universe anointed Internet and mobile as the future of digital media, Amagi Media chose to look the other way — they embraced TV.
“We chose TV for a couple of reasons. Even though broadcast TV is the largest media worldwide, it was still not leveraging technology in a big way. It was also the only medium where there was no geographic targeting of advertisements, except by regional language channels. And regional SME advertising on TV was a fast growing, but a largely unaddressed space,” explains Srinivasan.
As a startup, Amagi too faced the routine bout of skepticism, since broadcasters were unable to figure out the value of targeted ads. They did not see any merit than in partnering with Amagi. It took Amagi a year to tie up with their first TV channel. It started the pilot in Hyderabad in 2009. “Advertisers, on the other hand, were happy with the value proposition and we started getting ads from the first month of the launch itself. It took us around two years to make a prototype,” informs Srinivasan.
They have around 260 employees across the globe. Most of them are engineers involved in the R&D of the company followed by the sales team and other back office functions. “Often our talent acquisition team works closely with the team developing the business strategy. This process driven approach assures that we are always comfortably placed in terms of the talent we have on board,” says Srinivasan.
Business Mock Up
They work on Geo Targeting model. As per Srinivasan, Amagi’s business model is extremely scalable. Mainly because brands are no longer targeting a universal lead. They work with a lot of large advertisers like Wipro, GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever, etc The challenges these companies face are that either they have a regional market to promote or pursue regional promotions for specific brands. The second problem lies in the heterogeneous nature of the Indian market-same product does not sell equally in all markets so a brand needs a targeted approach while planning their advertising strategy.
“The larger brands are up against a growing number of local brands and in such a diverse situation are constantly struggling with the question as to how can they start targeting or communicating more in specific markets to increase their share of voice. They are always looking out for solutions that will equip them to boost their communication in specific regions. The smaller brands are now able to aspire to come on television because the medium as such can be targeted resulting in cost-effective campaigns and low spillage, says Srinivasan.
Cloud is the another business model they follow. Since virtualizing the whole broadcast operations, it becomes extremely cost-effective for the broadcasters to use their services to deliver any content across the globe in any device. The broadcast service is launched through an Internet cloud. “What’s more, we offer to play out services to them as well which enables the channels to outsource all operations to us entirely,” informs Srinivasan.
Amagi’s exclusive range of technology solutions, including future proof cloud-based managed services, has enabled the global broadcasting industry to host robust operations and substantially reduce infrastructural expenses.“We offer to Live, Regionalized and Linear play out services offering unmatched personalization enabling broadcasters to deliver content to any device across the world. Whereas, our advanced geo-targeted advertisement delivery creates new markets for ad revenues with minimum investment,” says Srinivasan.
Amagi facilitates geographic targeting of television advertisements. Simply put, if viewers in Mumbai and Delhi are watching same TV channel, they will still see different ads, depending on their geographical location. For example, if it is a Magicbricks.com ad, the Mumbai viewer will see the ad for properties in Mumbai, while the Delhi guy will see the same ad for properties in Delhi, thanks to the technology to facilitate targeted advertising developed by Amagi. This enables large advertisers to regionalize their ad and the smaller advertisers to come on television.
India is a diverse market and Indians are very different in their habits, culture learnings and consumer behaviours. This diversity poses a big challenge to FMCG and other companies in terms of reaching out to their target audience with the right product accompanied by the apt communication. They essentially provide marketers with tools to create communication and brands that are specific to that market.
Amagi MIX is an online media planning and buying portal, which helps advertisers create and launch television campaigns at an affordable cost. “It is backed with data-driven insights that help advertisers to make an optimum and affordable media plan. The platform offers over 100 television channels to choose from and provides easy-to-use media planning interface,” says Srinivasan.
Amagi and its team constantly work towards forging partnerships that allow them to pass the advancements. “Through our partnerships, we are always bringing the latest and the most advanced technology to our clients. We can assure you that future rollouts will live up to everyone’s expectations,” says Srinivasan.
She adds further, “We are constantly working on adding new features and products. In 2016 we launched amagimix.com which is an online media planning and buying portal. In March this year, we launched SKYLIGHT at the NAB show which happened at Vegas. Amagi SKYLIGHT is a cloud-managed broadcast services platform powered by intelligent automation, that helps you launch and operate TV and OTT channels anywhere in the world.”
The company has deployed its solutions in over 40 countries for some of the leading TV networks in the world. Further, the firm has developed robust cloud play out and monetization platforms that can eliminate CAPEX-intensive traditional broadcast models of satellite and fibre.
The future of TV broadcasting is the personalization of content and advertising. Accessing cloud infrastructure as a service can reduce the requirement for physical hardware, servers, and data centre capacity, helping to bear down on technology costs across the organization and ensure they flex with the workload. Hence, cloud-based broadcast technologies is the most important tectonic shift that broadcasters need to embrace.
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