Riding out the slowdown times, job search website Naukri.com has been celebrating the corporate hiring process with the ‘Jobs are back’ campaign, which has been on air for a while now. exchange4media takes a look at how Naukri.com has evolved over the years and maintained its leadership position.
Client: Info Edge India Ltd
Past and Current Agency: DraftFCB Ulka since 2004
Info Edge is one of the largest Internet companies in India. With an assortment of brands under one roof, Naukri.com is said to be India’s No. 1 job search website. They also own Quadrangle, an offline executive search firm; matrimonial portal Jeevansathi.com; real estate portal 99acres.com; and Naukri Gulf, the job portal’s foray into the Middle East market. Info Edge has also launched Shiksha.com, an education portal; Allcheckdeals.com, an online brokerage site; Brijj.com, a professional networking site; and AskNaukri.com, a career guidance website along with the first ‘naukri’.
Sanjeev Bikhchandani started Info Edge in 1990 after quitting his job in the Marketing Department at HMM (now GlaxoSmithKline). While at HMM, he noticed that the office copy of Business India was always read back to front. The ‘appointments’ section in the back was the most awaited column. He realised that jobs are an extremely high interest information category for almost everyone. By early 1990, he had concluded that there was probably a large, highly fragmented, database of jobs out there with HR managers and head hunters, which if someone were to aggregate and update, would be a very valuable resource.
Info Edge became operational from the servant quarter above the garage at Bikhchandani’s father’s house, paying a rent of Rs 800 per month. In October 1996, he visited IT Asia and realised that the Internet could be a potential medium to deploy the jobs database. Thus, Naukri.com was finally launched in March 1997 at a time when there were only 16,000 Internet users in the country.
Initial revenues were sluggish and most listings were free. However, traffic on the site was heavy and steady. The site did revenue of just over Rs 2 lakh in the first year of operations. In the second year, however, revenue quickly climbed to Rs 12 lakh. By 1999, the dotcom fever had hit India as well. Info Edge had started generating revenue of almost Rs 35 lakh. They approached three VC firms and two agreed to fund Info Edge at a valuation in excess of Rs 45 crore. In 2000, Hitesh Oberoi, COO, and Ambarish Raghuvanshi, CFO, joined Info Edge. Finally, in April 2000, ICICI invested Rs 7.3 crore in Info Edge for 15 per cent equity of the company. During the next 3-4 years, Info Edge focused on building its workforce and expanding the product portfolio. Info Edge survived the dotcom bust and gained significant mileage due to its increased network of offices across India.
The dotcom space revived in 2004. Info Edge diversified and acquired Jeevansathi.com, a matrimonial classifieds portal. Jeevansathi.com has gained significant market share since and is a leader in North and Western India. It then forayed into bricks and mortar with Jeevansathi.com Match Point and plans to open 25-30 retail outlets in the next six months.
In September 2005, the company diversified further and started 99acres.com, a real estate portal. It is an information exchange for buying, leasing and selling of all types of residential and commercial properties anywhere in the country. According to the India Online 2008 survey report by JuxtConsult, 99acres.com has a 14 per cent share of users and is the leader in the real estate category. 99acres.com lists over 300,000 residential and commercial properties of cities and towns across India.
In 2006, Naukri.com forayed into the Gulf Market with Naukri.com Gulf. The Gulf foray has been successful and the business has spread through offices in Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Through constant innovation, Info Edge has focused on improving its offerings on the Internet as well as the mobile platform. Naukri won the Red Herring Asia 100 2006 Award for the Insta Hire Solution. Insta Hire is a closed loop application, which provides for instant contact by recruiters and instant application by jobseekers via SMS. It is a breakthrough recruitment solution and Info Edge pioneered the concept of recruitment via SMS. For the fiscal year 2007-08, Naukri.com serviced 32,500 clients and had a database of over 14 million CVs.
Naukri.com’s ‘Hari Sadu’ campaign won the ‘Silver Effies’ 2006 in Mumbai and the ‘Bronze Effie’ in the Consumer Services Category, at the 2008 Global Effie Awards. It has been recognised as one of the most effective campaigns developed and executed by agencies across the region.
In April 2006, Info Edge attracted investments of leading venture capitalists ‘Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers’ and ‘Sherpalo Ventures’. It went public in November 2006, raised Rs 1,703 million by way of an IPO. The IPO was a runaway success and was oversubscribed 55 times. Business Standard has recognised Info Edge as among the BS 1000 companies for its remarkable achievement and leadership in its domain.
Info Edge launched Shiksha.com, an education portal, in June 2008. Shiksha.com aims to be the most comprehensive one-stop resource for information on education. The company plans to invest $5- $10 million in the portal over the next three years. Shiksha.com has over 85,000 listings on institutes, courses, events, admissions, results and scholarships. It lists information on graduate, post graduate and vocational programmes from colleges in India and in countries like Singapore, the US, the UK, Australia, etc. The site allows users to interact with other Shiksha.com users, college and alumni groups.
Speaking to exchange4media, Sumeet Singh, National Head, Marketing and Communications, Info Edge, said, “There are no differences from the past advertising of Naukri.com. The basic essence of our ads has remained the same.”
He further said, “There is one quality that made the ‘Hari Sadu’ ad so endearing. We had come across a survey some years back that most people switched jobs because of their bosses. This is where we got the insight and went ahead to create our first advertising campaign – ‘Guess who has just heard from us’. It was very well received and post that, all our ads are based on the same insight.”
Singh added, “Over the years, what has basically changed is perhaps the media mix, but the essence of advertising has remained rather constant. We do both online as well offline advertising. While online advertising is completely performance based, brand building is done through our ads on TV. The insight on our TV ads has remained constant.”
Sanjay Sharma, Creative Director , DraftFCB Ulka, elaborated, “We came across a survey that said that most good quality people who switched their jobs did it because they did not get along with their bosses. Almost everyone has this suppressed angst towards the boss. Capitalising on this insight, we went ahead and created the very first ‘Guess who’s just heard from us?’ commercial. The idea stimulated the suppressed angst against bosses. Communication created an instant connect by depicting typical, but exaggerated versions of work place dynamics. The ad was an instant hit. It was bold and every employees dream come true.”
Sharma added, “In a couple of years, we felt the need to push the envelope. Give something more to this boss, an identity, and this led us to the ‘H’ for Hitler campaign. It was everything we wanted it to be and much more. Soon, people were calling their boss ‘Hari Sadu’. It became a synonym for a bad boss and every employee saw his boss in the character. And now, the challenge is to push the envelope, again.”
“Our tagline has constantly been ‘Guess who has just heard from us’. However, early this year, we introduced ‘Jobs are back’, which was only for the tactical campaign based on an insight. In October- November 2008, India faced slowdown and we saw job listings going down on our site, but around July 2009, we saw jobs coming back on our site. We saw this trend for six months and then Naukri being the leader, decided to give this message out,” Sharma explained.
Amitava Mitra, COO, PerceptH Delhi, said, “Naukri.com was launched when there was no other site for jobs. I clearly remember that brand has evolved very well. I remember the ‘Hari Sadu’ campaign, which gave a big push to the brand. Then recently, Naukri,com came up with the ‘Jobs are back campaign’, which, however, did not create much impact in the consumers’ mind.”