Archive for April, 2008

Social Panchvi Pass

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , on April 16, 2008 by manuscrypts

A few days back, Dhanashree pointed me towards a new app on Facebook. This is based on the about-to-start show on Star Plus ‘Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass se tez hain’ ( which is the desi version of ‘Are you smarter than a 5th grader?‘) The show has been promoted heavily on TV, and the application has been conceptualised and created by RMG Connect.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen any online ads for the show, and a google search took me to the homepage for the show. Before we get into the application, my first take is that the site as well as the application could do with a bit of cross promo help, not just with each other, maybe even with the TV ads, and on mobile. I didn’t hear about it until i got the link. Of course, all that depends on how much stickiness they want for the site/application. Some of the winners get a chance to go on the shoe, but if the only idea is to push viewership, then maybe not.

As Dhanashree mentioned, the very idea of an app based on an SRK hosted show has the potential of a viral. So, the concept in itself would get some takers. For instance, i added the app, and sidestepped the ‘invite friends’ part, but noticed that by the next day, 3 of my friends had added it too. But, IMHO the finish could’ve been slightly better, not just in terms of looks, but also the jerkiness of showing the next question, and the spelling mistakes, for instance. The ‘contest rules’ is almost hidden, i didn’t see a quick 3-5 step up guide on how to play, and in general, the navigation is a tad unfriendly. I did like the box design though, on the profile page, though I’m still a toddler 🙂 (thats even less than first standard pass).

I wonder if they’ll use the kind of stuff that say, Text Twist does, which pushes itself at you saying ‘XYZ has beaten your highest score’. But the very fact that they built a facebook app itself is a good thing that has to be commended

until next time, passing standards


Share Market

Posted in India, Internet with tags , , on April 15, 2008 by manuscrypts

The success of youtube and the mega deal had spawned a lot of wannabe sites locally – Apna Videos, Video Dubba, Desi Lassi etc. There was even one called SuckooBai, though i don’t know its current status. A fairly comprehensive list can be found here. Though the sites have attempted a lot of localisation, I’m not sure how much of traffic they’ve been able to manage. Its actually a bit of Catch 22, isn’t it? As a user I’d like to share it on a platform where it gets maximum exposure, and as a visitor, I’d visit the site where i can expect maximum content.

The last couple of days, Rediff has caught my attention, purely on content merit. Rediff, as a site, has massive traffic coming in because of various things. It has been updating itself on a regular basis for a long time now, news, mail, blogs (I started blogging thanks to them), shopping, images, classifieds, air ticket comparison, stocks…These are diverse things, and rediff, in my view, is using its existing equity quite well to leverage its new products. But, we digress.

What caught my attention yesterday was the trailer of Sarkaar Raj, followed today by one of Spiderman 4, though the latter has many fake versions on YouTube already, so…  I also remember the c2w april fool video finding its way here, and as the day’s top blog. Not to mention the trailer of Love Story 2050. Rediff is increasingly encouraging content providers across media platforms to use its iShare. Desi content creators most likely will have a limited understanding of digital media, and would be more than happy to share the content on Rediff’s platform. And it’s not just videos, its also pictures, music etc. And over a period of time, there’s no reason why it cannot become a stand alone brand.

I can already see one snag though. A lot of us started blogging with rediff, but when we became familiar with blogging, moved on to blogger/ wordpress/ live journal/ typepad etc because rediff was nowhere close in terms of user interface design, technology etc. If they learn from that, and keep updating themselves on the tech front, they stand a good chance in the share market 😉

until next time, if.. rediff

Ménage à trois ?

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2008 by manuscrypts

And finally the battle is on. The one that most people in the media fraternity would’ve been waiting for. TOI has finally launched in Chennai, amidst a lot of fanfare, and has succesfully provoked two of its three resident English publications. More on that in a bit.

While the planning has been going on for years, I feel that TOI is late, by about 3 years, around the time that Deccan Chronicle took its baby steps outside AP. This was around the time that TOI was beginning to pull away from Deccan Herald in Bangalore and establishing itself as a clear leader. This momentum should’ve been carried on to Chennai too. From its experience in Hyderabad, TOI should’ve realised that DC is not to be taken lightly, and understood its intentions.  But then, thats water under the bridge.

What have the resident publications been upto? Indian Express has woken up just in time (thats debatable) and launched a new brand campaign, and a new look, complete with tagline – ‘100% steel, 0% gas’. While it does sound a bit like an infrastructural mutual fund, the ads per se were quite interesting, sporting a graffiti look and tabloid style provocative lines.

The Hindu, in what i believe, is a strategic faux pas as far as timing goes, has reduced its cover price from Rs.3.25 to Rs.2.50. They look to be rattled already, and that’s a wrong signal to send out, especially from the market leader. The least they could’ve done is timed this earlier so that it didn’t look like a reaction.

Deccan Chronicle has been conspicuously silent. It is inching closer to the Hindu and currently priced at 1.50. Wonder if they will revert to their old pricing, if TOI eats into their share.

From the looks of it, TOI might succeed in becoming the second paper in the Hindu households and possibly the first paper for the new entrants to the city. Exactly the situation in bangalore a while back. But Hindu is no DH, since they’ve already started supplements which are supposed to bridge the need gap, which The Hindu per se, cannot do. And thats exactly what the biggest barrier for TOI is, a habit. One that it will try to circumvent by inculcating itself as a habit to the new Chennai residents.

Chennai reminds me of Panipat. To tell you why would entail a short history lesson. The first battle of Panipat resulted in the founding of the Mughal empire. Against the massive resources of Lodhi, Babur’s guns proved to be the ace. Not dissimilar from the price war that DC unleashed on Hindu. And while Babur won, and DC is a close second, it might be just a matter of time. Those of you who have seen Jodhaa Akbar or paid attention to your history teacher (her history lessons, cheapos 🙂 ) would understand the pivotal role of the second battle. If not for a freak archer, it would’ve prevented the Mughals from establishing their empire, it changed India.  For Hindu, Chennai is home, one that has to defended at all costs. For DC, its second home, and critical to their plans of becoming the masthead of South India. For TOI, its one more significant step towards becoming the only significant player to have footprints across India. Who will blink first?

until next time, or is it fourplay?

That used to be my brand?

Posted in Brand, India with tags on April 11, 2008 by manuscrypts

Almost every brand that one comes across these days is targeting the youth, and thats across categories. Of course, some brands have been doing it forever, and some have just joined the party, maybe because the increasing incomes have forced them to define their target audience, so communication can be made in sync.

Now youth, honestly is a very vague term. For some, its actually ‘youth’, say 18-25, and for some, its more ‘young at heart’ which means it can go upto 35. I’m not saying thats really old, all I’m saying is that with a workforce thats getting younger as every year passes, 35 ain’t young. But thats not the point of the post.

A person aged say 50 now, got his first whiff of liberalisation when he was 33. And those were the days when employees still contemplated one life-one organisation. And in the seventeen years since, things have changed drastically – more brands, more options, and more costs. Did he have enough time to be able to react or cope or build a corpus enough to enable himself to lead a decent lifestyle? Judging by the number of products that cater to the current 50 year old, i guess not.

But this generation (30 year olds now) is aware of this and also aware that even this can change in a flash, and that they need to be prepared. They are very familiar with brands and the costs associated with their lifestyle tastes. So, will the brands in say, 10 years time also start catering to a 40 year old who was once their target audience? Will Levis, which i buy now, have a design for me when I’ll be 50, because i don’t see any brand now that does? (Enlighten me if i have missed it, please)

Because, unlike the current hapless senior citizens, who didn’t know what hit them, the future senior citizens would be a prosperous lot, with at least some money to burn. Please don’t get me wrong here,  I am not saying all senior citizens are poor, but I do come across a lot of them who look at the brands, the malls, the clothes and the accessories with a melancholic expression that acknowledges a changed world, and their inability to make sense out of it or cope with it.

until next time, this provoked the thought

Pro Social

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , , on April 10, 2008 by manuscrypts

No, this is not about me being gung ho about social networks, this is more about job search portals and social networks for business, specifically LinkedIn.

The context is that i saw a huge ad of Shine (HT’s new jobsite) in the paper today, and my inbox had a mail that asked me to check out ‘Where is my boss’. Shine has a contest running promising the winner a month’s salary. They’re also doing a salary survey, whose results are promised soon – finally, scientific proof that i am underpaid 😉

I’m not sure where exactly WIMB is being pitched. The site says “Get instant interview calls from Bosses all over the world! Set your online status as Available for live interviews.” Wonder if it’ll actually happen. Otherwise, the features seem to be the same as what a naukri/monster gives.

Like this post mentioned, I also wondered why HT would seek to create a new brand, especially when it has something running in the same genre. One possibility is that they want this to be seen beyond a normal job classifieds poral. This is perhaps validated by what they say on the page “We recognize that your job is an integral part of your career, but we believe that your career is far bigger than the job itself! It is more about gaining the right perspective, building your skills and enhancing competency. And that’s what Shine is all about! ” Hmm, that makes it a wannabe LinkedIn, but stopping short of networking.

So, what works? I still think all of them serve their purpose. When one is looking for a job, any job in their category (and there are tonnes of people who do just that) the portals like naukri/monster would work fine. However, if one is pretty clear about the specifics of the job he’s looking for, then a site like LinkedIn will help him connect with the right people. LinkedIn’s ‘questions’ and discussions also helps air one’s views on topics of interest, thereby adding flavor to a normal resume.

I’m not quite sure if the normal social networks can be a serious threat to a job networking site. To me, its a problem of context. I’m on FB to play scrabble, poke friends, join the Bollywood group etc. Yes, it does tell a person a lot about me, but is that the kind of info a person would be looking for while hiring? Doesn’t a LinkedIn fit the bill much better?

Until next time, or is it social pro 🙂

PS. If Yahoo decided to launch Shine in India, wouldn’t the existing shine take its shine off?

Interesting Times

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags on April 9, 2008 by manuscrypts

All my favourite sites absolutely trashed Indiatimes’ attempts at social networking – ITimes. I didn’t log into the site myself, and I doubt if i will, until either something drastic happens to facebook or itimes brings in such a revolutionary feature that it totally blows me out of my stasis. And from what I read in the Contensutra article, that has not happened, at least not yet. To be fair, though the reviews have been scathing, I saw some comments at Contentsutra, which gave iTimes a chance.

I’m sure the Times group will soon launch a blitzkrieg to promote the site through print, radio, mobile, Indiatimes which pretty much covers media options. Oh, okay Times OOH, Zoom, Times Now also, happy? The possibilities are endless, from using social media as a platform to fight serious issues (and campaigns like Lead India) (Read this) to building Bollywood/fashion based communities based on Zoom content and everything in between. The only snag is how much of good integration have we seen with the existing properties?

The WATBlog post mentions how internationally, its usually the tech guys who build web properties and the big media guys come in later. I think it has a lot to do (sigh, again) with interent access. The internet has been adopted by the mass there, and they can actually build a brand on the web. But lack of penetration here means that either the techies need huge pockets and backing (eg.Ibibo – Naspers) or they have to wait for a looong time for the critical mass – revenues. The alternate scenario is happening where a media company has the money and the media (reach) to promote a web property. The problem, i guess is when they use existing/sub standard resources, and apply learnings from other media, which just won’t work.

In the larger picture, remember that HT bought Desi Martini, so we might see the same players fighting on a different platform. And so, while it does sound like an Apple platform for news sharing, we’re in for some interesting times.

until next time, whats next twitimes? 😉

The future of the Internet in India

Posted in Brand, India, Internet with tags , on April 8, 2008 by manuscrypts

is mobile. That’s a feeling I’ve been getting for quite sometime. Take a look at the figures

Internet – 46 million according to the iCube report 2007

Mobile – 250 miilion, according to TRAI

I read two articles today which pushed me in this direction. One was Indiagames’ new mobile distribution deal, and the other was TringMe opening up its API for developers. While the first supports the title of the post, the second might seem contra, but i feel the development will happen more on the mobile front.

From a consumer standpoint, i see a convenience factor. While I am more a web fan than a mobile one, the sheer fact that i always have my mobile with me as opposed to my broadband connection explains the accessibility parameter. Yes, the amount of stuff i can access, and the small screen are deterrents, but i feel its a matter of time before that gets resolved. And yes, Facebook’s on Blackberry too, so…. 🙂

From a brand point of view, while the net does give a filtered reach, the population which would use the net on mobile would be just as filtered. Most of the stuff being done on the net, from vanilla contests to rich applications, I’m sure can be adapted to the mobile platform. And what better platform for a brand than an always on consumer’s mobile? Unlike the net, I can push stuff onto the consumer (all those malls now proclaim ‘Bluetooth Zone’. I dont think they’re aiming at my laptop, maybe because i wasnt carrying it?)

A convergence will happen, and for now, unless broadband suddenly starts coming out of taps, in India, it sees like the offspring will look more like a mobile than a comp. Wht d u thnk?

until next time, mob justice?