Sliide launches the African version of a mobile Flipboard in Nigeria with free data for users as the incentive

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There have been a number of different attempts to address the mobile data price barrier. In competitive markets data prices are now comparable to the USA and Europe but still not low enough yet to create a really wide African data mass market. Sliide’s pitch is to use content to acquire a mobile audience that it then sells to advertisers. It passes back some of the advertising revenues as free data for users. Russell Southwood spoke to its Sliide’s founder and CEO Corbyn Munnik about how it works.

Corbyn Munnik’s idea for Sliide came out of him growing up in Botswana:”I knew what was happening in the industry. Cheap smartphones were driving new data connections but data was still expensive as a percentage of income.”

Munnik went to school and University in the UK and he decided to set up a company there that would “get information to people and lower the burden of data costs”. It was useful to start it in the UK because “it must be the most competitive digital landscape in the world.”

He was accepted on to a scheme run by the New Entrepreneurs Foundation that was set up to encourage High Net Worth Individuals to revitalize the next generation of the UK economy. During his time in the scheme he got to shadow the CEO of CEO of a payments company got training from KPMG, Deloitte and McKinsey as well as networking with successful entrepreneurs.”

“We wanted to own the smartphone lock screen. It needed to be a content play so that you could sell advertising”. The company piloted the strategy in the UK “because if you can get advertisers on an adtech platform in the UK, you’re competing for the agency’s 15% on trialing and innovation budget. Consumers in the UK are amongst the most ad sensitive and you’re able to deal with scale.” From a UK trial he was able to demonstrate that it can work.

So what’s the current state of digital advertising in Nigeria?:”There’s no innovation budget in Nigeria. Most spending is on Facebook, Google and local blogs. But there’s a trend in which that awareness and spend will drive innovation in the future. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on Facebook and we’ve been getting a lot of spend. We’re part of their audience network”.

So what’s the content that will pull in the users?:”We aggregate news rather like Flipboard or Apple News and push traffic to the content partners who include The Guardian (in Nigeria), Pulse, Bella Naija, CNN and the BBC. We’re giving them mobile reads.” The lock screen is split into horizontal blocks with a square picture and a headline. These have a Go to the Next Story and Stumble Upon links.

“The ads appear completely natively to the platform and in the stream. You can buy the boxes on the screen and ads can be personalized.”

So how does the free data for users work?:”Effectively what we do is generate revenue from advertisers. We take a percentage of those revenues and bulk buy data and airtime from operators. We distribute that to users in the form of a reward. This is based on the use of your phone so any use of the phone turns into a reward. If someone wants 18-25 year olds to answer a survey, we can reach them and reward respondents with airtime. If they invite friends to fill in the survey, both will get N100 airtime.”

So what’s the use level been like?: ”It’s been quite overwhelming. Against the number we set ourselves we’ve outperformed expectations. We’ve had 30,000 activations over the last 10 days.” Before the launch, the target by December this year was 600,000 activations but “we decided to bring our finance round in sooner and be a bit more aggressive. So we think we’ll get 1 million activations by December now.”

Marketing has been carried out through a combination of content partners, payment partners and mobile operator partners:”We’re set to launch with MTN and Etisalat and they will do above the line marketing.”

The next launch will be in South Africa and Munnik says that both Kenya and Ghana look exciting.


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