The post-lunch sessions on the last day of Digital Summit 2006 saw corporate and Indian search engine honchos discussing what makes the five letter word ‘search’ so hot, to which one media planner added the ‘not’ factor.
Giving some basic knowledge on how search works, Prasad Ram, CTO, Yahoo R&D India said, “From a user’s perspective, search could be the point of entry to net.” Counting the various dimensions of search quality, Ram said, “Comprehensiveness is the biggest challenge before us because it is very difficult to know what exactly the user is looking for when he searches for a particular subject.”
Moderating the session, Mahesh Murthy, CEO, Pinstorm.com, said, “Search is big business worldwide, pegged at around $10-$12 billion, which is expected to touch $18-20 billion in a few years.”
Giving an example of the opportunity that search-based advertisements offered, Murthy said, “In a single month of our study, search for the term ‘shampoo’ generated 180,000 clicks in India.”
Demystifying some of the myths about search marketing like ‘Search is for classified,’ Sanchit Sanga, Business Director, mOne-Group M, said, “25 clients of GroupM are already into search marketing as it gives lowest cost per lead.”
Giving the example of how Yahoo is tapping into the knowledge in people’s mind through the new tool, Yahoo Answers, Rishi Behal, Head of Search, Yahoo India, said, “We are always targeting better search products which serve the local audience.”
Speaking on the topic ‘The Long Term Market: Impact Of The Echo Generation”, Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO, GroupM South Asia, said, “There is huge interaction between online and offline. People often check into online and buy in brick and mortar shops.”
The last session of the Digital Summit on “Online Strategies for Customer Acquisition” saw some successful online publishers sharing their success stories with the audience.
Sharat Dhall, Business Head, e-Commerce, started explaining the Indiatimes way to success – the AKC Effect (Approach-Kiss-Consumate).
Another great success story during the short Indian online history, Naukri, CEO, Sanjeev Bikchandani, devoted the secret of his success to the ‘Virtuous Circle’: “Better jobs-Better traffic Better response-Better clients-Better jobs”.
Harsh Roongta, Founder and CEO, Apnaloan, explained how his company kept its faith on the medium and succeeded through delivering value to the customer like contacting the loan-applicants within 10 minutes of receiving the application.
Another success story in the field of community based services is Sulekha. Its President and CEO, Satya Prabhakar, said, “The most valuable commodity in the world is human attention and it is going to increase on this medium.”
Speaking on the importance of users in this medium, Prabhakar said, “Online is the easiest way to gain and lose customers. Retention is more important than acquisition. One need to ensure consumer experience, advertisers will follow automatically.”
Adding a different dimension to the discussion, Anup Bagchi, COO, ICICI Web Trade Ltd, said, “Some online ventures like Naukri became successful because the proposition was way ahead of time and it was great. Online is very cruel. It does not give you much chance for course correction. So, one needs to be cautious in its brand proposition from the very beginning.”
Agreeing with GroupM’s Srivastava, Bagchi said, “There is nothing called a perfect online world. It is always online plus offline.” As the Summit came to an end, some people wondered when the reverse would be true.