Interview: Will India see convergence of offline & online media?

Audience Matters Interview

Recently Audience Matters (link broken) carried an interview of mine which was related to, languages, offline/online media in India.

Publishing the copy of it on my blog,

Q. You have been working with Greynium since early days of internet. What have been the challenges?

For some time, raising the fund was easy but after the dotcom bust, which happened in 2000, it became difficult because in my opinion there were many companies that started. It was difficult to raise money even if you have a good product and good reach and the only way to become bigger was investing more in the product. The word of mouth helps. Oneindia until now, we have not yet spent much on marketing and in spite of this we are the leading Indian language portal. The reason is people who read spread its quality.

When we started, very few people were exposed to internet so that was the biggest challenge to convince them to read it, and also believe in the medium. We invested in training of our people and with yahoo search engine and all, we tried attracting the traffic but when Google came, it changed the equation. Optimization became a key. Our major issue was that even if we had English on our portal, our major focus was on other languages, so for us to attract people from traditional mediums to online was a challenge. But inspite of all the difficulties, the people who had joined me 10 years ago are still with me and its growing. Google has become language friendly.

Q. Through your portal you are keeping Indian languages alive. What made you do so?

You should closely see what others are doing. Most of the sites are implementing formulae that have worked in U.S, in India. People see it as a proven model and think the amount of risk involved is less. But we have actually addressed the requirement of the Indian internet user in India. Indians are bilingual so if the companies want success they should get into regional space with the regional languages and there are many people who consume content in Indian languages.

Q. Please put some more light on is a classified site and we were the first ones to ensure that it supported the Indian languages. There are translating options. Almost all the classifieds are moving in the online space because it’s more practical in terms of searching things.

Q. Nowadays, people are moving from offline to online medium. Do you see a convergence happening wherein both mediums would supplement each other?

Though I am in online space, I will say that print in India will always be there. You will have different mediums like television, mobile, web but print will also stay, it is ‘not dying’ as people say. People say that PC web will actually die because people will be accessing net from their mobiles but it’s not practically possible. There are certain things you are able to do on the mobile but when you want to spend a fair amount of time like doing research and all, you want to be on the PC web. So, every medium will co-exist and each one will be somewhat maturing and aligning with the changes.

Q. Who are your target audience?

Target audience would be anybody who is able to read language. The actual growth of Internet penetration in India is yet to happen. We will see it increasing a lot with the wireless broadband, even not with 3G. In my opinion, 3G is for rich and elite. It is not for the masses and the products that I have are for the masses.

Q. What are your marketing strategies?

We have substantial traffic. We have 9 million unique users per month. Through our existing users and traffic, we are able to spread it. Now, after Netcore acquiring it, we will spend on our marketing as well. It has to be a combination of grass root marketing in the tier II cities, online marketing.

Q. Online advertising is the future but still advertisers believe more in TV and print advertisements. So, is there a lack when it comes to ROI for the client? Do you think online will overtake TV advertisements and print?

Overtaking… I think in India it won’t happen soon. We have to be realistic. In India, online has to grow and that is the first thing. Afterwards, we can see whether we can be half of the print, or equal to print or more than print. We need to have realistic, short term goals. Internet in India is still building up. There are benefits of Internet advertising. You can inform the client that the banner will be in which place, during what hours etc. and if you see the rates also, they are very less as compared to TV and print. But unfortunately the online publishers are accountable. We have to inform how many browsed the advertisements, how many clicked on them, how many are actually buying after seeing the advertisement. But when the same is happening in TV or print, how can you actually measure that how many saw the advertisement and bought the product?

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