The pre-lunch session at the IAMAI conference saw business heads and CEOs discuss on the marketing aspects of the new frontier of Web 2.0. Mohammed Iqbal, Senior Planning Director, O&M, said, “Current brands and companies are not listening to the customer and they are just talking.” He stressed on having a more consumer-oriented approach. Garima Chaudhry, Head of e-alliances, Citibank India, agreed to Iqbal’s point. Garima added that companies should not look at segmenting the market but to target customers across the nation.
Tarun Bangari, Head-Product Marketing, Akamai Technologies, pointed that it is important to set one’s own community, place ads and get the pages sponsored by the companies. He also placed emphasis on a low cost business model. “Have employee blogs, work with thoughtful leaders, and then conquer the marketing mix you want to go for,” was his advice on how to have a low cost model.
Ratish Nair, CEO, Interactive Avenues, talked about how online public opinion impacts growth. “The reviews that people write online directly impact the purchase decision,” he said. Pushkar Sane, Head-Asia, Starcom IP, agreed with Nair. “People trust things thrown at them through sites like Youtube and Orkut, and a lot of time wrong information affects business growth,” he explained.
Sane also opined that the new buzz word of Web 2.0 was nothing more than a jargon. “Customers don’t care what you call it. They are interested in building up content for themselves,” he said. He added that the prime time concept has gone with customers now logged 24x7, and marketers need to identify shifts and trends in order to survive.
When the moderator shifted the focus on whether Web 2.0 should be regarded as a marketing tool, the panellists had more or less similar views. “You should be clear on who your target audience is -- the blogger or the reader and if both. Your mix should be implemented without irritating them,” explained Nair. The panellists also talked about the reach and frequency of the new medium, and together claimed that it is a myth that TV and print get more reach and that the Internet gets only responses. While all panellists agreed to the new medium’s potential as a marketing tool, Chaudhury and Bangari stressed on refraining from doctoring the brand under any situation.
The post-lunch session saw eminent investors talk about the investment feasibility of businesses pertaining to the new medium. Rishi Navani, Managing Director, Matrix Partners, advised entrepreneurs to focus on things that work on the Internet as there is not much of software involved in the business. He explained that in such a business, high level of usage is required which is not possible in India. Sandeep Murthy from Sherpalo Ventures said that investing will become fruitful only if the company focusses on the ‘customer needs’.
On questioning why India should have its own Web 2.0 portals, Suvir Sujan, Founding Director, Nexus India Capital Advisors Pvt. Ltd, said, “The market is already there. The number of people in India that are using Orkut as a tool to socialise is phenomenal. It’s just about differentiating yourself and building on a similar product.”
The panel went on to discuss the feasibility and implications of copying a foreign site and making a business model that is working in the West. Manik Arora from IDG Ventures said that language would be a problem in such a situation and a cut-copy-paste of a foreign site may not work. The panellists had different views on this issue but agreed on adding value for the customer in the Indian context.
The last session saw media heads give their views on the industry threats with the emergence of citizen journalism, and particularly the new frontier of Web 2.0. Surya Mantha, CEO, Web 18, opined that individual talent is not a threat to media and that traditional media thrives on individual talent. Mariam Mathew, CEO, Manorama Online, too felt that if everybody become journalists, information would be easily and readily available, and these citizen journalists give an altogether different point of view. “Media has democratised and the role of newspaper has changed,” she explained.
Sanjay Trehan, CEO, NDTV Convergence, thought otherwise. “The emergence of public content is a big threat. Earlier, six to seven people in a room used to sit and decide what the entire nation will read. It is not the same anymore,” he concluded.
Piyush Shah, Head-Internet and Mobile, HT Media, was of the opinion that individuals have a lot of control these days, but at the same time, there is good scope for editorial content to take control.
The conference culminated to a final conclusion that the new medium was a powerful medium that can be utilised by the companies, if they take correct measures and the right means.