Q&A: Corbyn Munnik on Sliide Airtime and mobile advertising
How do you solve the problem of Africa’s expensive mobile costs, while boosting content sharing across the continent? This is one of many questions we have for Corbyn Munnik, CEO and founder of Sliide Airtime. Sliide Airtime is a content delivery platform that gives users free airtime in return for engaging with news and sponsored content.
Want to know more? Read our Q&A with Munnik:
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you came to create Sliide?
I was born in South Africa but moved to Botswana when I was five. As a teenager, I was always sending “please call me” texts or reverse-charging calls because it was just so expensive to make a call.
Disappointingly all these years later, telephone costs are still high for many, many Africans. But now it’s not just about voice; data is even more expensive. With the internet and online services like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all growing in popularity in Africa, this is an ongoing problem which hasn’t been resolved by operators, regulators or governments.
I was determined to find a way to make the internet more affordable for myself, my friends and family – and fellow citizens.
My first job was in mobile advertising, so I spent many hours trying to figure out a way whereby users would benefit financially from viewing messages from brands and advertisers.
Sliide Airtime is the result; a new and innovative way to access content from mobiles and simultaneously earn free airtime
In a nutshell, Sliide gives people free airtime in return for engaging with news and branded content delivered to the lock screen of their mobile devices.
It enables them to spend more time on their favourite sites and apps, share gist with friends, receive personalised breaking news about celebrities, sports teams, music, fashion and business – and all without having to pay more.
Our users receive free airtime every month simply by having the app on their phone. Additional airtime can be earned by completing in-app offers and surveys - and inviting their friends to join Sliide.
Why did you choose Nigeria as your launch market?
We launched in Nigeria in March 2016 after a lot of careful research into where people were most in need. The deciding factor was a report by the GSMA (the global telecom industry body) which basically said that it was much more expensive for people in Nigeria to use their phones than in many other developing countries.
We then spent many months building relationships with Nigerian and international publishers and negotiating with Nigeria’s four major mobile network operators to ensure that Sliide would be relevant and useful for its users.
We appointed an independent PR consultant who knew the market very well to help publicise Sliide both to potential users within Nigeria and to industry watchers across Africa and globally. However, as we were (and still are) a start-up, we had no budget for advertising.
Within the first week of launch, Sliide had achieved massive viral growth across Nigeria, with nearly 20,000 installs. We gave out 3,000,000 naira (£7,500) in free airtime in the first 12 hours of launch, and continue to give out 500,000 naira (£1300) of free airtime every day. Every single user has received free airtime earning on average 300-500 naira in free airtime/data each month – this represents 30-50 percent of their phone bill.
Today we have over 125,000 downloads and more than 80,000 people using Sliide every day.
How does it feel to add two more awards to Sliide’s collection?
It was absolutely thrilling to win four awards last year. We were named “Mobile Marketing Company of the Year” at the 12th Nigerian Telecom Awards in July, winner of the “Game-Changing Innovation” category at the West Africa Com Awards in Senegal in June and in November we were named as the “Most Effective Consumer Smartphone App” (in the world)at the Global Mobile Marketing Awards held in London.
And our year ended on another high when Sliide was named as “The Best App in Africa” at the AppsAfrica awards, beating off strong competition from better-known apps from across Africa.
Recognition by one’s peers is always amazing and we are hoping that these successes will show potential new investors that our model is both proven and innovative.
Can you briefly describe Sliide’s business model?
Sliide is Africa’s first lock screen content and mobile advertising delivery platform.
We use 65 percent of the revenue we earn from showing adverts on the lock screen, to buy mobile data from MNOs. We then give this mobile data back to our users, allowing them to access the internet for free.
As well as helping people in Africa access the internet for free, Sliide Airtime is also providing advertisers with a new and unique platform to reach consumers through their most prized and most frequently used device.
Amongst many others, we have built partnerships with Google, Facebook’s Audience Network, and Twinpine, the largest mobile advertising network in Africa, to help brands share their messages.
As well as branded content and mobile adverts, a popular feature of Sliide is our Survey Service which enables brands to communicate directly with Nigerians and ask multiple in-depth questions about their spending habits, likes and dislikes.
Conducting consumer research in Africa was previously very difficult with too many companies relying on gut feelings and experience in other markets. However, as our surveys are unobtrusive, and more importantly, reward the participant, the majority of Sliide’s users are happy to actively engage with brands on a regular basis.
Do you have international competition for the African audience?
Sliide is Africa’s first lock screen content and mobile advertising delivery platform. There are a few companies doing similar things but they are not targeting Africa.
Sliide was designed specifically for emerging markets, taking into consideration the large barriers to app usage, including poor internet connectivity, older, smaller and slower devices, and a user-base who are less accustomed to using apps in their everyday life.
Which other African apps do you think are award-worthy?
I think an app that is doing great is one called summary.ng which brings short form trending news to users targeting their specific interests. This saves subscribers time and data – what’s not to love?!
Where do you see Sliide in five years’ time?
We will be launching our service in South Africa imminently. I have just come back from Silicon Valley in the US where I have been meeting potential investors to help us expand into other countries as well.
This past year has been an amazing whirlwind; we have achieved so much but have so much still to do.
The Sliide Airtime Android app can be downloaded from the Google Play store or directly from www.sliideairtime.com.
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.