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M’sian SMEs with tight budgets should be able to advertise too, this site got the memo

Cutting out the middleman seems to be a common concept many startups these days are addressing, as the demand for more affordable access to the final product increases. 

Sharing the same sentiments, the team at Adwork reached a lightbulb moment and thought, why not cut the middleman out for advertisers?

98.5% of businesses in Malaysia are SMEs, which amounts to almost a million of them. Yet, we don’t see as much representation of SMEs on large-scale advertisements like billboards, radio, TV, cinema, etc. compared to large organisations. 

“This is largely caused by a lack of awareness, fear of high costs, and the complexity of booking an ad through a media agency or the media owner directly. Not only that, SMEs with a small budget (less than RM10,000) will hardly be entertained by the media agencies,” explained Kumaresh Visvanathan, CEO of Adwork, to Vulcan Post. 

Connecting SMEs directly to media owners

Adwork, simply put, is akin to Lazada for any form of advertisement. They’re a marketplace where media owners can pick and choose what media packages they want to purchase and advertise with. 

This idea is the brainchild of Sivanathan and Beverly, veterans in the media industry, with Kumaresh as the CEO and Elaia who’s their CTO. 

Say if you wanted to make an ad booking, you’ll just head over to their site, choose your price range, select your target audience’s gender, language, and age group, and you’re good to go. 

That being said, because you wouldn’t be engaging with a media agency to develop your advertisement, you’ll need to rely on your own creativity or outsource someone to work on your ad with you. In other words, you’d have to come prepared.

On their site, some advertising places include TGV Cinemas, TV3, New Straits Times, Hitz.fm, Astro Talk Show, and also billboard signs around Bukit Bintang, Times Square, etc. 

“We have onboarded almost 95% of the mainstream media owners on Adwork, including Media Prima, Astro, The Star, BigTree, etc.,” Kumaresh shared. 

Knowing your audience through ads

Besides these large-scale ads though, they still have social media ads packages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Spotify and more. You’ll also be able to get analytics and insights from these ads within the platform, similar to what you’d get from working with a media agency.

One thing to note though is that their products are fixed as stated on the site and there’s not much customisation you can do with the duration of an ad, start and end date of an ad, and more. Kumaresh likens their products on the marketplace to that of “off-the-shelf” products. 

When you book through a media agency, you’ll normally have to pay about 15% commission if you engage them for campaign planning, management, and acquisition. On the other hand, Adwork charges a 5% commission for every transaction.

Since its inception in December 2019, the Adwork team has completed 40 bookings amounting to a total of over RM1 million in revenue, with the largest transaction they’ve facilitated to date being a 6-month digital billboard that cost RM180K. 

Some of the billboard work they’ve done for their customers / Image Credit: Adwork

A range of prices for companies of all sizes

Adwork offers both static and digital billboards with the cheapest one priced at RM2,660, and prices can go all the way up to RM100,000 per month, depending on your choice of location and the size of your billboard.

But generally, most of the digital billboards that you’ll be driving through around Klang Valley like in Bukit Bintang, Times Square, Jalan Bangsar, Sultan Ismail, etc. all cost around RM20,000 per month. 

Currently, the most affordable advertisements you can get via Adwork are on news media sites like SME Daily, NST, Berita Harian, and the like. Social media packages like TikTok and Twitter are around RM2,000 per month, whereas Facebook and Instagram are around RM4,000 per month. 

A direct competitor would be AdEasy, although based on our observations, Adwork is able to tailor ads immediately according to your preferences. For example, an SME can first pick its budget, the ad’s target gender, target language, and target age group, and results will be given based on those filters.

On the other hand, AdEasy currently only allows users to browse main categories such as Website, Television, Cinema, or Billboard, for example, to pick what suits their needs. However, if you already know what media company you’re looking to advertise with, you can simply search for that.

Capturing the US$12 billion market in SEA

According to Kumaresh, Adwork has almost 2,000 SMEs registered on their platform and 42 media owners to pick from. Currently, the estimated SME advertising market size stands at US$1.2 billion for Malaysia, and they’ve captured about 1% of it so far. 

However, Adwork is planning to go regional to capture more SEA countries’ SME advertising markets which total up to US$12 billion, Malaysia’s included. Before regional expansion though, they’re planning to reach 1,400 transactions worth RM6 million in the total booking value. 

To do so, they’re aiming to raise RM2 million in their ongoing pre-series A funding round on pitchIN. The total equity offered will be 10%, and their minimum funding target for this round is RM500,000.

“We want to make everyone a media owner, literally. The next platform will enable anyone with an asset to be a media owner, including a person who wants to use his back as media and walk around the city.”

Kumaresh Visvanathan, CEO of Adwork
  • You can learn more about Adwork here.
  • You can learn more about their fundraising on pitchIN here.

Also Read: SMEs can get their hands on transparent, real-time rates via HSBC’s digital forex solution

Featured Image Credit: Kumaresh Visvanathan, CEO of Adwork

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