We reached out to Anubhav and spoke to him about the brand, Viber. We got some great insights, straight from the horse's mouth. Read ahead, as Anubhav gets candid with us and shares what goes on behind the scenes behind every decision
Q. What does Viber, the brand stand for?
A. Very simply put, it’s a service which connects loved ones – through messages, calls, group conversations – all these experiences. Allowing free communication with loved ones has been a strong company philosophy.
Q. Last year was about acquisition for Viber, and this year will be about retaining them. How do you plan to retain them?
A. Absolutely, last year was all about acquisition. There was some marketing investment which went into it. Between 2010 and 2013, we had 13 Million users, which grew to 35 Million users in 2014. This clearly shows that we have been successful in our acquiring mission last year. People are actively using the different features available.
For any viral campaign, an initial wave is needed, and we have got that wave going on. This will help us in retention. We are a “consumer first” company and we want to provide features which resonates with the users. Introducing Public Chats has been a push towards that. (More about Public Chats later)
Q. Stickers and Viber Out seem to be the revenue generators for Viber. Are there any other significant revenue sources?
A. We are soon going to introduce Games, and that can be looked as a revenue generating source. This can be in the form of “unlocking levels” and so on. Obviously, the revenue source would depend on what the game is about.
Having said that, we want to stick to the core proposition of providing our services free of cost. The paid services will only be an option that the user can choose or not choose.
Q. Last year Viber launched it’s first Advertisement in India. What was the core proposition it wanted to communicate?
A. It was a brand building communication. The idea was to communicate that Viber can help you connect for free. We did not have Public Chats at the time, so the communication revolved around Instant Messaging and Calling only. It was more of a ‘Hello’ to the country.
A. It’s a journey which happens from Free to Paid, and Indians are still adopting the idea of spending of online. Take Cash On Delivery for example. The reason it was required was because Indians are hesitant to disclose their credit card details online. I don’t see it (persuading Indians to spend on the app) as a concern though.
Q. With the launch of Public Chats, Viber is moving towards social networking. Tell us more about this decision, and the thought process behind it.
The biggest thought engine was to give users ‘insights’ into brands, celebrities, groups etc. The question which Viber tried to answer was “Are people really interested in hearing what other people are talking about?” “Are they interesting in getting insights into what’s going behind the scenes?”
With celebrities from various walks of life, be it cricketers, Bollywood personalities, the idea is to show users a human side of them.
In fact, it is very similar to Mad Over Marketing in terms of content creation. It is a tool which is creating content, that we believe users want to read and be a part of. Think about it this way, can Mad Over Marketing be humanized? Through Public Chats, users are not talking to the company, but they are talking about the people behind the company. Now, BuzzFeed creates brilliant content, and through Public Chats, the users are speaking to the 6-7 people who are creating that content. It’s really a behind the scenes experience!
Q. How does Viber plan to tackle competition like Whatsapp?
A. I wouldn’t worry about that too much right now. I think the !M & VoIP space is growing and there is space for everyone right now. It’s also about who will come up with the next big innovation. At first, people were using cellular services for calling, then the SMS wave came, and now the IM wave is here. It will be interesting to see what the next wave will be about.
Q. Are you Mad Over Marketing?
A. Definitely! Absolutely! This is something I have been doing all my life.
Q. What is the maddest marketing thought that you have had?
What if we can use the Public Chats platform to get the Who’s Who talking to each other. Think about various Bollywood celebrities in one group and having a public conversation. It’s something which has not happened before, and quite frankly it’s also next to impossible to persuade them. This might not be the craziest thought, but if it does happen on Public Chat, then nothing like it.
Q. If you had Rs. 100 to spend on advertising for Viber, what would you do and why?
A. (Instantly) In the product! If the product is strong, it markets itself. I would put 70% in the product, 5% in understanding clearly what the customer wants and what’s relevant in India, and the rest in communicating that message.
About Viber Viber lets everyone in the world connect. Freely. Viber users can send free* text messages, fun stickers, photos, videos and doodles, share locations anywhere in the world, make free HD-quality phone and video calls, communicate with Push-To-Talk on iPhone®, Android™ phones and tablets, Windows Phone, Blackberry®, Windows®, Windows 8®, Mac, Linux, Symbian, Nokia S40 and Bada devices over 3G/4G or WiFi connections. Now, Viber Out enables users to make low-cost calls toany phone number around the world. With more than 449 million unique users and 608 million registered users in 193 countries, Viber is constantly innovating by introducing new platforms and adding fun new features.