African start-up of the week: West African Julaya conquering advertising by SMS

Boubacar Diallo

Collect phone numbers, but also information on their users (age, sex, profession …): this is the challenge of the young company based in Ouagadougou that offers its customers targeted advertising campaigns across Africa. West.

The SMS is celebrating 25 years in 2017 and is doing well. Some 8,000 billion small e-mails were exchanged in 2016! In Africa, it has already considerably changed certain uses and sectors of the economy. The different SMS services to farmers, M-farm or ICow in East Africa, or Nkalo, their equivalent in West Africa, give them valuable information in real time (price of sale and purchase of supplies , advice, weather …).

Others allow to download music in Senegal via the MusikBi service, while in Côte d’Ivoire, OPISMS is a vaccine recall alert. SMS is also considered as one of the preferred organizational tools for political opponents, such as social networks. Which earned them some cuts in retaliation.

According to 7,000 African mobile phone owners surveyed by the Pew Research Center in seven African countries in 2014, the sending of SMS is far ahead of other uses (sending photos or videos, mobile payments, surfing on social networks …) .

Bring together several information banks
At the turn of advertising to seize it? This is the bet of two former mobile payment service Lemon Way Africa, Mathias Leopoldie and Charles Talbot, who have noted the weakness of advertising campaigns for small African companies.

TV, radio, social networks or paper newspapers are either very expensive for small businesses or poorly adapted to African markets that are still largely informal.

At the same time, several companies or agencies have developed mobile number files that they market to advertisers for SMS communication campaigns, such as DFA Communication in Bamako or Alerte Info from Abidjan.

“Each had its base of contacts, from 10,000 to a million numbers per agency, which they sold the use to advertisers, explains Mathias Leopoldie. But these bases are often incomplete and give little qualified information on the holders of telephone numbers. ”

The request to withdraw mailing lists: a rare case
It is on this colossal potential of contacts and improvement of the knowledge of the users that the two former of Lemon Way Africa created Julaya, trade in Bambara. The holding company has been domiciled in Ouagadougou since September and has subsidiaries in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal.

In November, about 50 number base holders, called “resellers,” agreed to join Julaya and put in the phone numbers in their possession. For them, the interest is not to promote their only contacts to potential advertisers, but also those of other resellers. Each use of “their” contacts gives rise to remuneration by Julaya.

The service is declared to the various authorities for the protection of users’ personal data

No worries to have regulatory side, say the founders, since the service is declared to the various authorities for the protection of users’ personal data (APDP in Mali, CIL in Burkina, Artci in Côte d’Ivoire, CDP in Senegal). In addition, each SMS sent gives recipients the opportunity to be removed from Julaya mailing lists – an infrequent opportunity for this type of advertising campaign in Africa.

An increase of 5 to 10% per day
At the beginning of December, the platform had 20,000 contacts, increasing by 5 to 10% per day. Except that according to the two founders, the contacts are this time much more qualified than simple names and first names associated with a number. Henceforth, each of the contacts made on the base by the contact holders specifies the function, the age, the sex, the place of residence …

The company will be profitable when the platform will contain 50 000 names per country

“This is the same logic as Facebook Ads [the targeted advertising tool of the social network, Ed] but with a system adapted to African realities,” explain the two founders.

Some sixty advertising campaigns have been carried out so far via their platform. Recommendations for horse betting, a recruitment announcement, an internal communication campaign to a company … 35,000 SMS were sent via Julaya with eloquent returns on investments.

Fundraising
Thus, this Burkinabè advertiser who bought Julaya for 30,000 F CFA SMS to promote his job training offers, 1,000 SMS to 30 F CFA per unit. He saw 10 people buy the promoted training and totaled a turnover of nearly 190,000 F CFA. “This is a return six times higher than its bet,” says Mathias Leopoldie.

All SMS are currently purchased by Julaya in Orange, the company charging its commission on the difference between the price at which it buys the lots of SMS to Orange and the price at which it bills them to active dealers on its platform – between 45 francs in Mali and 21 francs in Côte d’Ivoire where competition between operators is greater.

The two founders estimate that the company will be profitable when its platform will contain 50,000 names per country. The model is interesting because an investment fund has already taken with Julaya. The two partners received a proposal of the order of one million dollars.

Jeune Afrique

No content has been found here, sorry :)