Indian Music Service Dhingana Launches Its Ad Platform, Recruits Facebook’s Gokul Rajaram To Advisory Board

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Since launching in 2007, Indian music streaming service Dhingana has focused less on monetization and more on building its product and its audience, according to co-founder and COO Swapnil Shinde. That focus has paid off in licensing deals with more than 500 music labels and Bollywood production houses, as well as an audience of 11 million monthly active users. So now the company is ready to make money.

Specifically, Dhingana is launching its advertising platform. Shinde says he wants the service to become a “must buy” for advertisers such as movie production studios, music labels, independent musicians, mobile carriers, and any other brands that want to reach a young, engaged audience. Dhingana is offering a number of ad formats (the most popular so far, Shinde says, is a reskin of the homepage), and it can target ads based on factors like music genre, platform, geo-location, and audience demographics.

Dhingana has been beta testing the platform, and during that period, the company says it ran a campaign for the film Cocktail, driving 100,000 audio streams of the ad in the first 18 hours, and more than 1 million streams in the first five days.

Eventually, Shinde says advertising should make up 70 to 80 percent of Dhingana’s revenue, with the rest coming from subscription services.

In addition to launching the ad platform, Dhingana is announcing the addition of one of the big names in ad tech to its advisory board: Gokul Rajaram, who played a major role in the developing Google AdSense and who is now Facebook’s product director for advertising. Rajaram says he first encountered Dhingana as a consumer, listening “to an inordinate amount of songs” on the service.

When he met the team, Rajaram says he was “blown away” at what it accomplished without much funding. He argues that Dhingana is “social from the ground up,” making it easy for users to find music through social discovery, and that it’s also “mobile first”, with more than 7 million active users on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Nokia devices.