Thursday, September 17, 2009


No more synopses for my new posts, these shall feature exclusively on the Wordpress blog in use now.

This applies to today's blog post on mobile broadband subscribers too, please see above blog.

- Rohit

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New post : remembering Drucker

This post is now up at the Wordpress blog

Monday, September 07, 2009

India's affluent : findings from a recent survey

Nielsen India's done it's first ever survey of the affluent. An analysis at my new blog.

Friday, September 04, 2009

India's oral care market : Star #1 meets Brand #1

Shah Rukh Khan's been signed up for Colgate. An analysis on this and on the oral care products market at the new blog .

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In India, broadband's growing

That's the new post for today. Go check this out at my new blog address.

Thanks for visiting !

- Rohit

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Internet juggernaut rolls on - VI

Some new websites that will be of great convenience to the public, covered at the new Marketer's Kaleidoscope blog on the Wordpress platform...

India's dental health market

This new post is on the challenges consumer marketers face in growing the Indian market, with special reference to the challenge Colgate faces. This is now hosted at my Wordpress blog. Do pay that blog a visit & subscribe !

Since I am moving to Wordpress, this Blogspot blog shall henceforth carry one line synopses of each new post...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Transition

Have been working on moving this Marketer's Kaleidoscope blog to the Wordpress platform. And this has taken longer than expected. Time put in on this transfer has been well spent : it's been a gr8 learning experience. But it's also kept me away from putting up any new post of late.

The 'new' blog (check it out) is still a Work-In-Progress. This new Wordpress platform promises to be more feature-rich. Among other things, it allows very many plug-ins and a choice of a few thousand themes. It is I believe going to eventually make for a richer reading experience.

The look and feel still needs some improvement, and that's going to entail my learning some CSS ! Let's hope I can get this done this weekend.

And there will probably be other improvements and necessary actions needed too.

Till the new blog matures then, dear reader, as the saying goes, "I crave your indulgence" :-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

D-I-Y Advertising

"Papa, papa, why does the moon advertise ?"
- a quote I heard many years ago (probably has no deep significance, I just like it :-)

Here's a look at advertising. Advertising is the lifeblood of the two industries tracked on this blog viz. consumer industries (advertising here generates the demand) and consumer Internet (advertising here also generates the revenue) :

When people first advertised, and one doesn’t know when that was, it is but axiomatic that they did it all – strategy, creative, media planning, placement, whatever ! - themselves. Then, nearly a 150 years ago, aided by the industrial revolution and newspapers as a mass medium*, came the advertising industry and the ad agencies. Today, if one is a corporation and wants to advertise, one usually employs an ad agency and spends a fair bit of money.

In India, there are about 80 odd accredited agencies (84 as per the AAAI and 79 listed in Business World’s The Marketing Whitebook 2009-2010). Each agency typically services a few dozen clients. Thus this ecosystem supports say, just a couple of thousand players. The largest ad monitoring service, TAM, monitors just 600 brands on print and TV. These are the regular advertisers.

The number of organizations in India who have ever advertised is several times larger. These number an estimated 38,000 odd for TV and over 314,000 odd for print (both from the latest weekly TAM report ).

These organizations, I am informed by friends in advertising, usually do not get serviced by agencies. Instead they go direct with the respective newspaper / TV channel. For ad creative, they use freelancers or the publication itself. It is the only a few thousand odd companies who have a full-time ad agency.

Separately, there are 13 million plus small enterprises (really small actually, on an average they employ just 3 people each) in India. In addition, I hazard that a large % of households have at least one self-employed or would-be self-employed person. These self-employed are on the constant lookout for opportunity e.g. a teacher looking for students for tution classes.

Each of these small enterprises and individuals is a potential advertiser. The current advertising option available to these enterprises and individuals is to run classifieds and occasionally run display advertising in the local newspaper.

Online is taking a good ‘share of wallet’ of these small advertisers and of the local advertising market. Data on India is not available, and I take a look at some US ad and global ad market trends instead and extrapolate:

Facebook: Facebook’s been quoted as saying that their revenue for the current year will exceed $500 million. This is believed to include over $300 million ad revenue. And the lion’s share of this advertising, by one estimate 74%, is actually local. This means that Facebook is turning out to be a local ad platform. This is unlike My Space, which was skewed towards large advertisers.

Considering that Facebook launched their ad platform only in Nov 2007, this is good progress. The local ad market in the U.S. is $150 billion, so there is a good upside possible here.

Now, advertising on Facebook is simple. One needs a credit or debit card and little else. There are value-additions possible in terms of audience targeting, pricing options and performance tracking, similar to what is generally available elsewhere online. Further, in some locations, the classifieds service (local newspaper) has a cheque pickup facility; often, in other locations, it does not. No such concern or delay when you pay online.

Thus, online advertising has several benefits over classified advertising in the local newspaper.

This is Do-It-Yourself advertising; it works well for very small and for neophyte advertisers. Here, the Internet has added real value.

In addition to paid advertising, Facebook allows and encourages the creation of pages, these then can be promoted free (virally) or by paid advertising.

Google: Google Adwords has over a million and a half advertisers ; they spend on an average about $16K a year each. Once again, the vast majority are small advertisers who can get started with a credit card or other payment options.

In addition to text ads, one can use Adwords’ 'display builder' tool to create display ads. Or,one can put up one’s own display ads.

Craigslist: Craigslist runs over 30 million ads a month . These are mostly free. This is a really simple, possibly the simplest possible local advertising option.

What’s caused the above DIY ad services to succeed? Facebook and Craigslist benefit by having a community, the user has comfort in placing the ad. Google of course benefits thanks to it's pioneering search service.

To sum up, Do-It-Yourself advertising is something that is uniquely Web. It serves to expand the number of advertisers (long tail).And more advertisers instrinsically mean more stable revenue for the sites.

All sites do not have this self-serve option. Yahoo India does not have a DIY advertising option, Rediff’s Local Ads (earlier P4C ads) product has not quite scaled, there seem to be some bugs here. Having a successful DIY advertising product may be key to building a stable revenue base.

* as narrated in the book 'Adland : A Global History of Advertising' by Mark Tungate, Kogan Page Publishers, 2008.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Growing the Internet Market : What's the Big Deal ??

The economies of the last century were driven by railway connections, the economies of today are largely driven by the Internet and other ICT (Information and Communication Technology) links.”

– President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, speaking a few days ago at the laying of East Africa’s first broadband cable line, connecting this region to Europe and India.

Why the big fuss about maximizing Internet users and usage? After all, among developing nations like India or Kenya, there are other areas for development e.g. roads, electricity, schools, hospitals and telecom. Which is true. All I wish is that Internet should figure actively among these top development priorities.

The Net is not just email, search, shopping, dating, social networking, portals, advertising revenues, IPOs and the like, or a poor investment, which at times the media has made it out to be.

It is now society’s most powerful tool for 'advancement'.


A. During my travels around the country (more a few years ago than now, I admit) trying to popularize the Internet, I have found the desire to use the Net the keenest among the disadvantaged sections of society e.g. I found teenaged girls in small town Uttar Pradesh to be avid visitors of cybercaf├ęs.

B. Politically suppressed Iran now has more avid tweeters than perhaps most countries; Twitter has kept the ferment for reform in Iran, alive.

C. In China, which at 338 million users and counting is the world’s biggest Internet market, there is widespread usage of news and blogging. 79% of all Net users use it for News: this is the second most used Net application, behind music which has 84% users.

And there are more bloggers by far in China than in any other country, with 54% of all Net users i.e. 162 million blogging!

And China is still witnessing an explosive growth in Net users. Here is the latest available report.

It would appear that in a country with acute news censorship and propaganda, the Internet plays a major role. Media such as China Central Television (and I would imagine radio and press) are State controlled monopolies. Individuals can best inform themselves and voice themselves via the Net? Do we dare predict that it is the Internet that will one day willy nilly catalyze political change in the world’s largest non-democracy.

D. In Kenya, the laying of the new broadband link (see pic above) will, it is said, open up the door for it - and for other neighbouring countries - to join the BPO boom , creating jobs in economies which sorely needed (and posing competition to India’s call centre industry).

E. The Government of India has announced, in this year’s Union Budget, the setting up of an online employment exchange. India has just 8 million organized sector jobs, most people are in the unorganized sector.

F. Another recent announcement - that did not get sufficient attention - is the government’s intention to provide Internet marketing support to the country’s micro, small & medium enterprises sector. There are estimated to be 13 million such units, they employ 42 million people and account for 45% of the country’s industrial output. Online marketing can help them significantly, some players have been at it already, but there is much that can be done.

G. ITC’s E-choupal has placed 6,500 Internet kiosks across 40,000 villages, benefiting a potential 4 million farmers. These give information on crop prices, access to markets, weather patterns and farming knowhow, leading to improvements among small and marginal farmers - that would have been otherwise impossible. This is the world’s largest ‘rural digital infrastructure’, says the company.

Then there are other companies that have installed rural Internet kiosks for other (non-agri) purposes, e.g. Comat for e-governance.

H. This year, for the first time, online application was mandatory to admissions to colleges in Mumbai city. Nearly 200,000 graduating high school students have just submitted their admission applications online.

Till last year, prospective students hopped from college to college to first pick up and then drop by (submit) the applications. At about 5 colleges per applicant and 2 trips per college, this year that’s 2 million trips saved!

That’s the power of the Internet. And that’s what just one (admissions) website can do.

There is a humungous diversity of uses to which the Internet can be put. Agriculture, e-governance, recruitment, outsourcing, small business, college admissions and political change are some of these, as the above random examples show.

An economist would say that the Internet has high ‘social utility’. A rupee of investment here has a high multiplier effect.

See also previous posts on 'Growing the Internet Market' :

An Agenda to Grow the Indian Internet Market

More on an agenda to grow the Indian Internet Market