All others seem to be cyber-posters. Are Indian online properties really so weak Lets see. Out of nearly 50 million net surfers in India, an estimated 80% are young adults prone to the charms of Orkut, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and so on, ignoring local sites such as Bigadda and ApnaCircle. Since their reading habits are poor, news sites in India do not attract and retain many. The average time spent by users on an India-centric news site is less than 10 minutes a day. Most readers do little other than glance at the homepage. So, thats the trouble. A small and superficial online crowd.
But who cares Advertisers and media companies like living in a fools paradise so long as theres a dotcom attached. Big advertisers earmark a small part of their budgets for online ads without following any tangible return-on-investment rules. And as media companies targets are so low, they are satisfied with whatever comes their way without putting in much of an effort. Result: total online ad revenues have languished at just 4% (while print and TV get 40% each) of the countrys ad spend, now estimated at over Rs 16,000 crore.
Will things improve Yes, if online players care to understand consumer behaviour. Today, the most widely used ad forms are banner graphics and text ads, like sponsored links on content sites and search engines. Most advertisers go by the number of page views to check a sites popularity before releasing banner or text ads. These ad banners are like hoardings that stare at commuters.
But a glance at a roadside signboard cant be construed as a sale. Likewise, surfers are not surfing for ads. Typically, theyre headed somewhere, and dont like barricades and interruptions (bandwidth hogs, least of all). This is why ad payment norms such as cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-millennium (CPM for 1,000 clicks), cost-per-period (CPP) and even cost-per-lead (CPL) are fast losing their relevance.
For direct impact of online ads on sales, pricing models based on cost-per-order (CPO) and cost-per-sale (CPS) are fast gaining importance. However, most websites lack the sort of compelling content that can attract and retain eyeballs. This would mean a better interface between advertisers and content companies. Overseas, this has actually started happening. Google, for example, agreed to pay over $3 billion for the digital ad firm DoubleClick. Likewise, Microsoft took over online marketing player aQuantive Inc for $6 billion. And a few days back, the ad agency Publicis joined hands with Google to seek the latters Web analytic support for cyberspace marketing.
Strategic resilience is essential. Only then does an online property have a chance of emerging from obscurity to global fame.
The author is a technology market analyst. These are his personal views. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org