Online Classified’s – Some Thoughts

Classifieds is another buzz word in the market today and the latest entrant, in my knowledge, is We saw some heavy advertising during the month of October for the site which has been started off by the same guys running

But has it as a category really taken off? I strongly believe that this is a pretty touch category to make a mark in. I am a regular user, both as a buyer and sometimes as a seller, of such sites and a few things come to mind:-

1.A visitor might never have loyalty towards one. From the perspective of the seller: – the more sites which he can cover the better. As a buyer research by you would be carried out on multiple sites as well, hence loyalty might not be something to strive for at all here

2.The primary distinguishing factor will be the variety and extensiveness of the listings. Rediff was pretty smart in this regard and tied up with Infomedia Yellow Pages and pretty much brought the whole directory online to its P4C platform…but the problem in that is having a huge bunch of sellers never replying, updating products, services, contact details etc because they don’t have the relevant knowledge to do so and never did so to begin with.

3.A strong search feature is another important consideration. Be it within product categories or geographically – the ability for a site to get a visitor in touch with the products he wants as fast as possible is necessary

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Delhi hit by Earthquake

I sleep through most things, which i consider to be a tremendous advantage and strength, but even i was rudely awakened at 4:30 AM today i.e 26th November with one of the strongest earthquakes i have felt ever, possibly.

A 4.3 on the Richter Scale ,with the source at the Delhi Haryana Border , Delhi University, GT road ,  hit Delhi in the wee hours of the morning. While i cant comment on other areas of Delhi, Defence Colony had a few people stepping out of their houses and a few car alarms going off.. while the magnitude of the earthquake was not very high , the strength and intensity was much higher owing to the closeness of the epicenter i guess.. barely 20 kms from South Delhi… while ceiling fans shake at the smallest incentive, what did surprise me was that a fully loaded cupboard ended up oscillating….. and this was a first !
While details are still unavailable currently, no injuries or deaths have been reported.

Network 18 Invests in Webchutney

Another rumor floating around which has been been squashed a while ago.

Network 18, through its Capital 18 arm has bought stake in one of India’s most creative agencies Webchutney. The stake though substantial, is in a minority. The funding will be primarily used for expansion – infrastructures, people , Social Media and Rich Interactive applications.

The majority stake i hope will help Webchutney retain full freedom and independence in its operations , creativity and planning , for which it is known. Hopefully this extra funding will see them really shoot ,aggressively, further into the industry.

Read chutney’s own blog post on this here.

HT buys Desimartini – Any point?

The first time i heard a buzz in the market with respect to HT acquiring a social media site was 30th November 2007 post a report on contentsutra. contenders included myindospace , Jhoom , Hi5 and surprisingly no one mentioned Desimartini…… but as it turns out Desimartini it is.

How big an impact is this going to have on HT and its presence on the Internet remains to be seen but i am striving very hard to come up with advantages and strength factors but just not able to.

The deal is reportedly under 10 Million USD but a quick calculation gives us the following – HT has paid around 40 USD , or 1600 INR , per user acquisition ( taking 10 million for the deal and divided by the registered DB of 250,000) ….. now i might not have a very strong financial bent of mind….but who else thinks this is a bit crazy…  10 million really seems to be a “bit” too much..and i agree with Rajesh from alootechie on this totally. Its far too expensive considering the quality of the overall inventory or the users which social networking sites typically tend to have.

Additionally how does this help HT out. Sure they have a online property now over and above what they have but i am very curious to know the path which they have . hopefully , laid down to leverage this… is it purely an acquisition to control and try and take a bigger bite out of the online spends in India…. are they planning to possibly sell the DB , use it for internal marketing… ?

Amit Garg might be under the impression that this fortifies their entry as far as the Internet is concerned but 3 out of 4 people who i brought it up with burst into giggles. To quote him “expanding our Internet base” , and that it might appear they are getting into the Scoial networking a bit late but that the Internet is still in its infancy in India….basically stating that its ok as far as the timing is concerned.

The problem lies in the fact that everyone is unsure where social networking is going to go and secondly Desimartini was never really a contender, in my opinion, within this genre of sites to begin with. So i dont see the point, the advantages and hope that HT has not made a blunder. While Mr. Pahwa’s ROI has definitely skyrocketed all that it appears to be for me right now is another traditional media company getting into something without a comprehensive understanding of either the industry and the vertical.

Advertisers are harsh when it comes to the internet.

While this may lead to a flood of comments picking at everything i have written , I am still going to pen the following thoughts down.

I believe that advertisers on the Internet are, comparatively,too harsh on the Internet and the online medium. Their expectations are often unfair and with respect to the larger picture, despite having proved it self as a strong , accountable , economic medium the net needs to prove it self over and over , every campaign , everytime. Why ?

The problem lies in the medium itself. One of its biggest advantage is its weakness as well. The internet offers accountability and tracking which before it , was quite frankly, a dream…. and advertisers have literally gone overboard with it.

Just to take an example lets consider a recent campaign..Maruti Swift ,lots of fanfare everywhere… lots of TVC’s , lots of half page spreads in the national dailies. Cars got sold , car sales saw a rise, people got to know about the product. Lots of articles , Autocar feature planning was done well blah blah. The marketing department at Maruti is still patting itself on the back , and the agency thrilled with the invoicing. Everyone’s happy……

….but i have a question.. i want to know which TVC , in which language, at which time spot on which channel on which day , targeting which demographics in which region , which city, did the best……. and the same for the print ads..and the same for the articles. How many cars got sold basis the review on Autocar….. yes… anyone?….. no one? cmon….!!… so many crores at not one detailed stat for me???

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WPP Buys Quasar Media

All the speculation which has been in the market over the last few days has finally be put to rest. Contentsutra has confirmed the buy in its article quoting WPP CEO Martin Sorrell , who announced it on Friday at the Morgan Stanley technology , media and telecoms conference.

How this rolls over the next few weeks remains to be seen but its definitely a move which will send ripples across the industry. Quasar Media’s debatable market leadership is sure to receive a tremendous boost from this move.

The acquisition is stated to be at 75% but the exact worth was not disclosed. What was mentioned was that there is not going to be any kind of a backfire with the deal with respect to management and employees and will still be managed by its founding team.

Mark Read , CEO WPP , credits the move as a step towards having a strong reach in the Indian digital space, which according to him will touch 560 Million $ i.e 7% of the toatal spending by the year 2009.

Cell Number Migration Now Possible..

This much awaited change in the industry is finally here. The headlines in Times of Read read that the ministry has given clearance to this proposal after sitting on it for about 2 years and it will be available to consumers shortly.

While this spells a lot of flexibility and freedom for mobile consumers in India , the GSM operators themselves are not too happy. One obvious impact is the fact that they would need to become more “Customer friendly” and offer even more value adds to ensure the subscriber base does not dwindle.

The other reason , it would appear, for their frowns , is this move is being seen as something which has been initiated now to help Reliance out and offer them an easier path with respect to acquiring subscribers and their overall entry into the GSM segment. The service will initially roll out in Delhi , Mumbai , Chennai and Kolkata.

Whether that be true or not, i really dont care, this was a much awaited development which is going to benefit consumers in the long run and offer the freedom of migration which otherwise , or the lack of it, has been one of the primary reasons to not switch operators in the past. What i am apprehensive about is how “easy” in real terms will operators allow subscribers to leave…. would they for example become more stubborn in releasing security deposits, will i need to be wary of the fine print which might , now, include clauses which attempt to hinder this…?