Traffic situation in India is only getting worse every day and on an average, people spend 30-45 minutes in a radio cab every single day. Now that’s a long enough time for one to monetize a ‘captive’ audience (who will mostly doze off for the lack of better option).
Mumbai based Flo is in-taxi entertainment network and in-taxi Digital OOH advertising medium that aims to tap the radiocab/taxi advertising market. Flo is a wirelessly managed, sound enabled, tablet-like device embedded in radio taxis, strategically located behind the passenger seat.
Flo has four distinct channels – Entertainment, Around the World, Fashion and Lifestyle, and Cars and Technology. Each channel holds a bouquet of videos delivering something for everyone. These videos are procured through company’s national and international content partners like, CNBC TV 18, Zee News, Fox Traveler, Red Bull, Bollywood Masala and many more.
The viewership of each video is monitored through Flo’s backend server which helps the company decide on the popularity of a certain video, or genre. This analysis is then utilized while wirelessly adding new videos to the content loop on Flo, making Flo a product made for the passengers, by the passengers. In the near-term, Flo also aims to bring additional information and services to the passengers including live news and sports updates, local maps, location-based services and other interactive features. Flo offers multiple advertising options to brands. The Video Wall allows for advertisers to display engaging TVC’s and the Side Banners give them an opportunity to leave powerful call-to-action messages.
Technology Behind Flo
The client-side software used for Flo is a proprietary Qt-based application (running on Linux). The software monitors each and every event on Flo. These are collated in the form of log files and are automatically transferred to the servers. In the last few months, over 20million events have been collated, which enables the company to have a deep understanding of viewing patterns and the effectiveness of campaigns. Each Flo device is wirelessly connected to company’s central servers over the internet using EVDO (3G CDMA) technology, and also immediately upgradeable to 3G GSM technology. To ensure that no data or logs are lost, En Route has developed complex protocols with robust error-detection and handling of file-corruption.
The company has roped in advertisers like Volkswagen, The Economist, Garnier, ET Now, McDonalds and Tata Docomo.
Parent company, En Route Media has been started by Indo-German duo, Varun Jain and Paul Schwarz who were college mates at Warwick University, London.
Here is a brief QnA with Flo team.
1. What has been the traction so far?
Despite the initial challenges of educating marketeers about a new medium and not yet having critical mass in terms of reach, we already have a strong sales funnel. As of today we have a backlog of more than 100 leads, around 45 prospects and 12 existing clients. A few examples include brands such as the Economist, Kotak, Volkswagen and Tata Docomo.
2. Partnering with taxi operators – what have you guys done w.r.t this?
We are currently partnered with Carzonrent’s EasyCabs and have launched in their Mumbai fleet, where we are already installed in over 250 EasyCabs. In the near future, we plan to move to New Delhi and expand to over 1,000 cabs. Beyond this, we are also in advanced talks with almost every major fleet operator in the country.
3. Given that there is a hardware cost involved, what’s the breakeven timeline you are looking at?
Given the traction we have seen, we anticipate that each screen will have repaid its cost within just 6-8 months, once the industry has been adequately educated. This might take some more time.
4. Is this an ad supported model? What’s the business model?
Since the uncluttered environment and targeted audience in radio cabs delivers good value to brands, advertising is and will be our primary revenue source. However, we are already looking to compliment this with rich media offerings and in-car shopping.
What’s your take on Flo model? Is there an advertising market big enough to cater to this audience?