D2 Communications Inc, the JV between NTT DoCoMo Inc and Japanese advertiser Dentsu Inc, has invested an undisclosed amount in Singapore headquartered mobile marketing firm Affle, which claims to reach 4.5 million users with its ads, products and services. The terms of the deal are not known. Affle has been backed by Bennett Coleman Company Limited (BCCL) and software giant Microsoft, among others.
Other investors in the company are Lee Hsien Yang, ex-CEO of Singtel Group and the current Chairman of F&N Group, Koh Boon Hwee, ex-Chairman of DBS Bank, Singtel & Singapore Airlines via his investment fund Six Rivers, Sam Balsara, Chairman of Madison Communication India and Richard Humphreys Ex CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide.
Affle's flagship product is SMS2.0, an application that enhances messaging experience by offering colours, emoticons and promotions. SMSLive is the next version of SMS2.0 and enables social networking and search. Affle also offers the Pinch Instant Messenger for smartphones and mobile coupon app Coufon.
Dentsu Inc. recently bought out the 26% stake in its India joint ventures - Dentsu Communications Pvt. Ltd., Dentsu Marcom Pvt. Ltd and Dentsu Creative Impact Pvt Ltd - from Sandeep Goyal through an entity called Mogae Consultants Pvt Ltd.
"Through this partnership we will be able to provide a lot more value to our users and partner telecom carriers, publishers and marketers and create much higher growth for Affle. At the same time this association would help us to make much faster inroads into Japan, which is the largest mobile advertising market in Asia," said Anuj Khanna Sohum, CEO, Affle Group.
Besides opening up the Japanese market for Affle, the partnership will enable sharing of best practices and joint marketing efforts in Asian markets.
Affle will have access to D2 Communications' best practices since they both share a carrier-aligned approach, aggregating advertising inventory on cellular networks with those of leading social networking sites and popular portals. "These practices and exchanges will cover three broad areas - product improvement, technology adaptation and marketing solutions for brands and will help us in creating more value for our clients in the short term and grow the mobile advertising market in the long term," Sohum told VCCircle.
Affle has 8 offices and operates in Singapore, India, China (Beijing), UK (London), USA (New York), Indonesia, Australia, Thailand (Bangkok) and Malaysia. It previously received investment from Microsoft Corporation in February 2009, Itochu Corporation, Bennett Coleman Company Limited (BCCL) and Centurion Private Equity.
D2 has the rights to sell all inventories on NTT DOCOMO, a Japanese mobile service provider with over 57 million subscribers. Its clients include www.mixi.jp, www.gree.jp, Yahoo Mobile and the popular Japanese mobile social network Mobage Town. The company has existing partnerships with Hakuhodo, Asatsu-DK, CyberAgent, Opt and Septeni.
"With D2 Communications, having more than 10 years of experience in the field of mobile marketing in Japan, we believe that our case studies in this field will be useful across Asia," said Takayuki Hoshuyama, CEO, D2 Communications.