According to the I-Cube 2007 report brought out by IAMAI and IMRB out, more and more Indians are becoming active Internet users with many new users coming from the non-metros. The report further observes that utility services such as bill payments, ticketing and banking, which were earlier done manually, are now done online.
The report further states, “Continuous improvement in email features has led to a bullish journey of the email, which was earlier on a declining trend. The popularity of entertainment activities like online gaming and video downloads has increased the share of the entertainment segment in the main applications used.”
The report also notes that in a bid to tap the potential market of young India, online application providers are targeting school-going kids to catch them early. They are exposing them to the latest technologies so that they become habitual Net users and become proactive in driving Web 2.0 in the future.
Taking a look at the advertising benefits coming from these advancements, Dinesh Wadhawan, MD & CEO, Indiatimes.com, said, “Users’ involvement with Web 2.0 is huge, which means that more people are contributing as well as reading what other users have to say. In such a scenario, viral marketing works well, especially for cult brands like Apple. You can get advertising worth crores while spending next to nothing.”
Meanwhile, BCWebwise’s CEO and MD, Chaya Brian Carvalho strongly believes that Web 2.0 is to the advantage of the consumers. “Advertisers have to gear up for real feedback and information, and trends that will be governed solely by consumers,” she added.
Manish Agarwal, VP-Marketing, Rediff.com, pointed out that the basic tenet of Web 2.0 lay in co-creation by users. “Hence, if user data is intelligently mined and used for behavioural targeting, it has the potential to provide higher ROI to advertisers and optimal utilisation of inventory for the service provider,” he said.
“Web 2.0 is not an advertising tool,” Hitesh Oberoi, COO, Naukri.com said, adding, “Advertisers will advertise on sites that use Web 2.0 tools and techniques just like they advertise elsewhere. Like everywhere else, advertisers will look at metrics like traffic, quality of user base, relevancy of the user base, branding opportunities, quality of targeting, etc. Advertisers are only interested in the response they get. They don’t care about Web 1.0 or 2.0 or 3.0 for that matter.”
Looking at the future of websites that had not yet embraced the newer solutions, Wadhawan said, “As long as sites continue to innovate and serve users’ needs, I am sure they can sustain themselves.” Agreeing with him, Carvalho said that they would co-exist.
Rediff’s Agarwal pointed out that Web 1.0 companies would find it difficult to match the speed of growth and diminishing user acquisition cost of Web 2.0 companies. “Web 2.0 companies provide richness of user experience and satisfaction of co-creation, coupled with freedom to customize, which leads to very fast product proliferation by sheer word-of-mouth. Web 1.0 companies would lose out eventually as they fail to keep users excited, and gradually users would drift to better and richer experiences,” he said.
Oberoi firmly believes that advertisers are the best placed to benefit from this. He said, “Unlike the new websites, existing websites have a brand, a user base and clients who benefit from the service. As long as they recognise the opportunity and are able to transition their sites to use some of the Web 2.0 tools and techniques which make sense for them they will benefit immensely.”
Citing the example of Shaadi.com, Mittal said, “Of course they can. Since its inception, Shaadi.com has been a Web 2.0 concept, which emphasises on user-generated content. It provides users a platform to interact with each other and share information.”
Meanwhile, Sudipto Majumdar, CTO, Zapak, observed, “Not all ‘older generation’ websites need to adopt Web 2.0 with a vengeance. Many sites (like newspapers, etc.) work reasonably well with the Web 1.0 paradigm. It is transaction and application related sites like travel, e-commerce, etc., that need to adopt it vigorously. Most of the ‘older generation’ websites, however, are slowly embracing some of the paradigms of Web 2.0 in their sites. Those who fail to do so will slowly lose out in perception of the users as a modern site.”
With such widespread utilities and benefits coming out of the technological advancement, Indian Internet users will surely reap the benefits in the coming months itself. The clarity and understanding on the players’ part will also impact this progress.
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