Marketers are always on the lookout for innovative mediums to promote their products and services and connect well with their target consumer. While the Internet offers many possibilities, of late ‘blogging’ and, most recently, ‘podcasting’ are getting attention from Mr Marketer. The question is whether blogging is just a fad or is it here to stay.
Talking to exchange4media, S N Bhaduri, VP, e-business, HT Media Ltd, said, “All the major sites in India today have a blog site. These blog sites act like a message board and attract a huge amount of traffic. A lot has been done around the world in the blogging arena, but in India marketers have not really latched on to it in a big way yet.” But Bhaduri is optimistic about the future of blogs.
Apart from being a powerful communication tool, there are sound business reasons for blogs. For instance, blogs enable companies to present a human face and voice to the public. Also, many consultants effectively use blogs to raise the visibility of their clients with their target market.
Sanjeev Malhotra, Director, Alia Group Branding Services, said, “We are in the process of making blogging relevant to some of our clients, including HLL, Dabur and Amul. It can be a valuable feedback system for brands.”
Malhotra added that blogging was a free-of-cost research tool, which was spontaneous and was a valuable source for getting feedback. It can also be used as an internal marketing tool. However, he accepted the fact that it was still at a nascent stage and was not fully understood by people as the Internet penetration was still very low in India.
“But in the long run, blogging can prove to be a phenomenal resource for marketers and help them in gathering valuable consumer insight,” said Malhotra.
Riding high on the publicity derived with the help of the heavily promoted Kaleidoscope Entertainment’s ‘Mangal Pandey - The Rising’ is MSN Spaces, the blog site from MSN.
Speaking about the business viability of the blog site, Rajnish, MSN India’s Head-Marketing and Business Initiatives, said, “We started MSN Spaces in April this year, and today we are getting a good amount of advertisers. Blogging has the ability to create communities and in turn, drive interactivity while successfully influencing consumer preferences.”
A totally divergent viewpoint was expressed by Mahendra Swarup, CEO, Times Internet, who was extremely categorical in his denial of blogs as an effective marketing tool. He said, “As far as blogging is concerned, I feel that it will be effective only in the case where search-based advertising is used. Internet penetration in India is as it is not very high and blogging as an Internet marketing tool is a concept that the advertisers have not understood.”
Another major deterrent for the medium is that of reaching one’s focussed target group, and this has prevented blogs from becoming an attractive proposition for marketers and advertisers – a point raised by both Bhaduri of HT and Swarup of Times Internet.
The truth is that blogs are increasingly being used as an effective marketing tool all over the globe. However, the Indian market will have to wait long before this concept percolates down to a level where the tool can make money.