Archive for January 20, 2009

Tataindicom on second life! Wonder wot are the stats…

Afaqs article today informs about Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) getting on the virtual world, Second life, for a brand campaign for TataIndicom.

While I was pleasantly surprised with the adoption of the virtual worlds, the really high end of technology communication spectrum in India, for a brand campaign, I still am skeptical about its reach in terms of target audiences.

Truth be told, I have not seen a credible statistic relevant to India yet which comprehensively sells Second Life as a mass communication option given the limited bandwidth in most offices which is required for seamless streaming and a fuller experience.

Amul and CRY have presence on Second Life. How much traffic and relevant users they get is not quite clear.

May be the team at Indusgeeks Solutions, touted to be India’s first and largest virtual world development and services firm can shed some light on my dilemma.

Also, is there a India specific statistic on the potential of virtual worlds which gives out audience and demographic details in terms of usage along with companies which are sucessfully utilizing this tool to reach out to their target users.

Here’s a quote by Siddharth Banerjee, CEO, Indusgeeks Solutions on partnering with TTSL:
“We are thrilled to partner with TTSL and create a benchmark initiative. TTSL has demonstrated true thought leadership in the domain of digital marketing by using this interactive, immersive, 3D medium to convey its brand story. Indusgeeks is glad to be partnering Tata Indicom in this first initiative of its kind in the Indian context.”

The story ends with the expected caveat:
It will be worth a wait to see whether Tata Indicom is able to pull off a success story with Second Life, a phenomenon that is yet to grip the Orkut-Facebook crazy Indian youth.

Nevertheless, am glad that new media and virtual worlds are on the radar of brand communication consutants for effective and holistic marketing campaigns.

Afaqs article: Tata Indicom gets a Second Life [Link]

Marketers capitalize on increasing Satyam search volumes

Identifying an opportunity in the increasing curiosity amongst end users in the current Satyam imbroglio, Pinstorm, a Mumbai based digital marketing agency, designed a tactical strategy to capitalize on the search volume trend for keywords to market their client NIIT Imeperia finance courses.

Agency FAQs article which gives details about this campaign says:

The campaign is still on and some of the keywords NIIT Imperia is using to push the text ads include ‘Satyam’, ‘PWC’, ‘Raju’, ‘Satyam Computer’, ‘Maytas’, ‘Ramalinga Raju’, ‘PricewaterhouseCoopers’, ‘Ram Mynampati’, ‘Rama Raju’, ‘Satyam fraud’, ‘Financial statement Satyam’, ‘Financial crisis at Satyam’, ‘Financial gap at Satyam’, ‘Satyam financial loss’, and ‘Satyam confession’. This implies that whenever any Internet user searches for one of the keywords mentioned above, he will see a text ad for the NIIT Imperia finance course displayed on the right side of the search results page, along with the regular search results.

Quote from the company explaining the logic behind the strat
Speaking to afaqs!, Ansoo Gupta, head, global business, Pinstorm, says, “The idea was to tactically capitalise on the buzz and the rising search volume related to Satyam on We knew that we would definitely get the eyeballs once we put NIIT Imperia’s text ads as a sponsored link on the search results page of”

Egged on by the article and the fact that the campaign was reported ongoing, I did try the search for keyword ‘satyam’ (once again proving that people will do anything that they read online ;p)

The results are unexpected. Zinnov and Monster India are doing much better on the keyword ‘satyam’. For reasons I am not quite sure of Monster India urges users to “apply for Satyam jobs!” They might as well ask users to go bungee jumping without the bunjee 🙂

Here’s a snapshot of the search:

The campaign guys or Afaqs missed the bullseye on this one? In either case, it is food for thought for online marketers.

Afaqs articles you wanna see:
Who is using Satyam fiasco to run funny or tactical ads on Google [Link]
Amul will now linger on Satyam fiasco [Link]

Update 1: Jan 19 2009 11.03 am
Satyam scam, other big news hot favorites for advertisers (Livemint) [Link]

Top Indian blog list by Binary Day

has put out their TOP 250 Indian blog list. [Link]

Great effort, considering variable metrics have been used, rather than the usual AlexaCompete comparison. The usual suspects are there.

I wish it could have been categorized as per industry or sector to give a perspective on the overall statistics.

Tip first seen on BhattNaturally. [Link]

Social Networkers less receptive to ads

A latest report by IDC, an international subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), says that Social Networking Users are spending more time than ever on these fora. Also, that the end users have become increasingly resistant to advertising on Social Networking Sites.

The press release by IDC says:

In fact, users are less tolerant of SNA advertising than the best tolerated forms of online advertising. Ads on SNS have lower click-through rates than traditional online ads (on the web at large, 79 percent of all users clicked on at least one ad in the past year, whereas only 57 percent of SNS users did), and they also lead to fewer purchases (Web: 23 percent; SNS 11 percent).

It goes on to say…

One of the potential benefits of SNS that the advertising industry has discussed is whether peoples’ connections (i.e., whom a user knows or is linked to) could be used for advertising. For instance, publishers could show a car manufacturer’s ads to a user’s contacts because that user’s online behaviour has indicated that she is interested in a particular brand of cars. Anecdotally, there has been some indication that this “social advertising” might be more effective than behavioural targeting.

A thought debated globally but its execution remains hazy!

Here is where conversational marketing looks to score a point over banner and click rate based online advertising strategies. The need to be a part of the global digital tribe in order to gain acceptance and provide real value to users interested ion brand by utilizing social media tools needs to be go beyond lip service and planning. Demanding clients primed in online advertising space look to implement these solutions as it is much more convienient, precise and less demamding on time, monies.

The necessity of being a part of the community “paticipant-observer” rather than a cultural voyuer” was brought home while I was reading one of Brian Solis’s works. And I not forgotten this edict since as I beleeive this is what would provide true value.

The US based study may not be relevant if corellated to Indian scenario. But as it is observed with social media technologies, this trend may follow at phase 3 of adoption in India.

AnyIndia specific data on such trends? Do let me know and comment on this study.

IDC press release [Link]

Update 1 (Jan 13 2009) 1:40 pm IST

A related article from Mashable which quotes an e-marketer survey which suggest that Social Networking Sites still the number 1 growth area in online marketing

Coupled with a resistance to advertising on Social Networking platforms, it makes conversational marketing and online PR a formidable force in the digital space.
Mashable article [Link] – Social media still the #1 growth area in online marketing

Newspapers can bank on online for survival: Rishad Tobaccowala

Another exchange4media write up which intrigued me today:
Newspapers can bank on online for survival: Rishad Tobaccowala [Link]

Guess most of us sold on the potential of online as a medium saw this one coming

A few trends from the article are mentioned below:

Trends in the media
According to Tobaccowala, the single biggest trend was the globally decentralised linked network – in other words, when you put something online, it automatically becomes global and this will drive the media industry. Authenticity was what mattered now as people had learnt that they could not trust anyone in authority any more, he said.

Trends of people globally
Voyeurism: People across the globe like to watch other people and are curious to follow them, particularly celebrities.

Fame: They all want fame and they want to be famous in their own way. There are more people who write blogs than those who read them.

Facilitation: Marketing has been outsourced to consumers, these days people do their own research – from buying a car to even a mobile handset. They trust themselves more than others.

God-like: People are no longer constrained by time, place or by body, It’s like having multiple personalities. We say Consumer is King but ironically, we are treating them as idiots.

People are living in a multiple world: An increasing number of people are living in both analog and digital world. Therefore, we need to give the audience a taste of both in a well-balanced way.

Viral fever yet to catch up: Do we really need it?

Exchange4media, a premier advertising and communication news portal, in its article states “
India yet to catch viral fever, but the symptoms are very much there” . This must be taken with a pinch of salt. Although, most brand campaigns strive to create that big idea which will strike a cord amongst audiences and lead to exponential online word of mouth, the truth is very few hit the sweet spot.

Virals are considered to be at the top of the communication food chain online. At least my interactions with the industry suggest so, want to know what part of the communication program would most likely to go viral!

Here’s the deal. We are still thinking in terms of ‘hits’ and not about the various niches that one must cater to in order to make the whole effort much more relevant and cost effective. [The Long Tail] A viral may get you eye balls, no doubt. But, IMHO, it lacks the engagement aspect, wherein we loose out on the insights that end users may have to offer about the product or service.

As a stand alone too, great for creating brand awareness and increasing brand recall amongst stakeholders.

But I suspect that deployed as the end and not the means, it would be stripped of it meaning in the holistic communication paradigm.

Here are a few thoughts from the article of web marketing honcho’s on the phenomenon:

Atul Hegde, CEO, Ignitee, said, “Viral ads are certainly very popular. However, the challenge is that it needs to be a true viral and should not be created for the sake of it. Virals by nature are meant to be very disruptive and a lot more engaging to the consumers, and if done in the right manner, can be a very powerful tool, but again, viral needs to be used in a conjunction with a lot of activities.”

Rishi Khiani, COO, Web18, observed, “Viral advertising is very popular, especially for youth brands. Humour adds to the stickiness of the creative and creates traction amongst youngsters, who are keen to communicate with their friend groups. Successful examples are the ‘Ghajini’ viral for oktatabyebye, ‘Mahabharat 5 Pandavas’ and ‘Chevrolet Aveo’. ‘Pankaj Udhaas’ remains the pioneering viral in this category.”

Rahul Nanda, COO, Webchutney Studio Pvt Ltd, pointed out, “The popularity of the virals can be judged by the sheer number of virals being created these days. How effective they are is another story. In our experience, two-thirds of viral attempts actually do not succeed with the audience. Virals are definitely an answer for marketers to target an otherwise advertising saturated mind.”

Having a different take, Amar Deep Singh, Vice-President, Interactive Avenues, said, “Most virals in India have been restricted to creation of a film, typically a Bollywood spoof, so it is funny and advertisers feel that receivers of the viral will forward it simply because it’s funny. Quite a few people who receive such stuff do not forward them purely because forwarding such stuff is seen as ‘uncool’ and it really does not add any value to the person receiving it.”

Leroy Alvares, Country Head, Tribal DDB, noted, “Viral advertising has become pretty popular among the users and is the quickest way of getting across the brand message, thereby becoming a good tool for advertisers. It is the quickest way of getting a brand message in a very interesting fashion.”

Link to the article India yet to catch viral fever, but the symptoms are very much there“[Here]

What an "Idea" for social media

Idea Cellular’s latest campaign dubbed ‘Democracy for all’ which calls for participative governance wherein every citizen equipped with a cell phone is empowered to voice his opinion to the highest echelons of power, where it is uncharacteristically heard.

It has many parallels with the social media universe and what we as responsible practitioners, end users of this dynamic medium profess and would like organizations to understand.

Technology affords us a unique chance to gather valuable feedback from consumers. It is important not only to tap the uncharted potential of New Media but also put in systems and processes which aid in listening and participating in conversations, be an integral part of the global technology tribe.

Also, a comprehensive social media campaign would hold ground and prove to be of real value to a company or an individual when its worth is be measured in terms of direct benefit to its core consumers which adds immense value to the brand’s equity.

Just as the commercial represents a two-way communication paradigm between the government and common citizens, there is a need for corporates to step out of their self imposed silos and bond with the world out there.

Also, if you noticed, the advert ends with a definite “call to action” which results in an outcome. This element is often over looked by online brand mangers where many campaigns are banged out with tricked out tools but without an end result or consumer engagement as the key element.

The whole thing ends up being an “observation deck” for audiences that they look to engage. The key is to ‘converse with users’ and not ‘talk at audiences’.

As the debate rages on about the best practices to be adopted and the impact of emerging technologies on digital communication there is a lot of soul searching that needs to be done on what is professed and truly being practiced. Not only in India, but globally.

Few links which give some insight into Idea’s campaign:

1) Idea’s ad with Abhishek Bachchan promotes democracy (Business of cinema) [Link]

2) Exchange4Media write up on the parallel between Rajiv Gandhi setting up call center’s to connect with his constituents via cell phone: p [Link]

3) Idea Cellular’s Democracy for all advertisement on YouTube [Link]

Chaos theory: A tragicomedy

Chaos Theory written by Anuvab Pal, who has previously written the play The President Is Coming and the movie Loins of Punjab Presents is difficult to categorize as a tragedy with moments of mirth or an all out comedy interspersed with sadness. In the playwright’s own words “As you watch Chaos Theory, depending on what constitutes you, you are either about to watch a tragedy with a splash of the comic or a roaring comedy with blocks of sadness”

The play is about the relationship between the lead characters that in spite of being probable soul mates never quite acknowledge their love and commit to being with each other.

Chaos Theory collage

It moves beautifully through different era’s and time frames traversing the life changes that the leads undergo from the heyday’s in Stephens Delhi to New York, the hallowed land of opportunity. The scene transitions are ably supported by the ensuing Audio-Visuals and foot tapping, ambient background score.

The experience of watching a play is enriched not only by a knowledgeable and receptive audience but mostly by the company you have during the hour and a half of its run time. I went with one of closest friends, who was initially enthusiastic about the whole affair but as I gave up the premise on our way to the theater she turned skeptical.

In physics, “chaos theory states that two particles can exist into infinity, surrounding each other without actually ever connecting”, said Pal. “I wondered what it would be like if I took two particles and turned them into two people and made them spend a lifetime together without either of them ever committing to love.”

The silence that interjects noise in a conversation between two people says a lot more than what reams of words can convey. Interplay of thoughts and emotions that affect the mundane realities of life are exposed in those moments of silence.

We were silent after the play for a while, absorbing the context in which the events were staged at that NCPA exposition. We exchanged our views on what was said, heard and experienced.

I thought of the different people in our lives that could have qualified as being our chaotic alter egos. Past relationships, friends, colleagues, the list seemed endless, the possibilities unnerving. I shifted my gaze away from the limitless Arabian Sea in front of me towards her eyes. They seemed calm and questioning.

The leads are played by Zafar Karachiwala and Anahita Uberoi, who brilliantly bring the well authored characters to life. “The characters are two parts of the same mould, they complete each other and are meant for each other but just don’t ever come around to saying that to each other,” says Zafar. “The saddest moments are when they come closest to saying ‘I love you’ but never do.”

I thought of the different world’s we live in and the innumerable times those words have been uttered. The myriad meanings and sensibilities they convey every time. I am glad we didn’t wait for a lifetime to understand this.

Family matters – The da Cunhas: Masters of media [Link]

Social media communication trends: reflections and insights

“…to know where you are going, you’ve got to know where you’re coming from…“

Will Smith, in American sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air

At the turn of every New Year there is a compulsion which borders on obsession about taking stock of the days gone by and gazing into their crystal balls (no pun intended!) trying to make sense of the future.

This is how we evolve as individuals, organizations and civilization at large; by making sense of the past. Also, being involved in social media there is need felt by end users, practitioners, observers and any one else interested in this exciting space, to filter through the chaos that romps through the annals of the internet.

I had made a pact with myself not to get into a retrospective mode, simple because I felt I need to evolve as a practitioner and not state the obvious. Like, by and large there is consensus on the fact that communication on online platforms is going to be huge. Social Networking is the next big thing in online media communication. No arguments there, geniuses!

So I was a little perplexed when the same old predictions were doing the rounds this year too. It did reaffirm my faith in the potential of this medium as a platform which can be leveraged for communication (do we really need anymore convincing…!)

The stock answer to this from people sitting on both sides of the fence, traditional and digital, is unanimous that this is a nascent medium and requires aggressive evangelism to succeed as a business proposition. Especially to those who are not sold on the digital marketing / social media communication gravy train (if you know what I mean…) but are in positions of authority and power to make decisions which change the very soul of business as it is conducted today.

I agree. We need to evangelize, spread the good word. But mostly it seems that we are trying too hard to convince ourselves. Are we really sold on digital media?? Or do we probe in the dark, stirring and yearning to make sense of this chaos which we don’t quite understand completely ourselves. And, that is a reality which we need to contend with.

Here are seven most interesting resources which I caught up with while brushing up on my Social Media 2008 reflections and 2009 future trends:
(Do suggest some more posts that kick butt on this topic)

1) Pringo Highlights Business Social Networking Trends for 2009 [Link]
Pringo, US based provider of non-hosted online community platforms, CEO Majid Abai offers his forecast for how social networking will shape up in 2009

2) Looking back on our 2008 predictions [Link]
A retrospective on projections by Jeremiah Owyang and Josh Bernoff

3) Social Media Trends for 2009: And My 2008 Predictions Revisited For Accuracy [Link]
Kami Hyuse admittedly follows suit with an insightful review of her 2008 predictions and 2009 trends

4) Recap 2008: Indian online scenario [Link]
WATBlog’s “Recap 2008” series which sums up all the trends and major action observed in the Indian online business space specific to verticals such as gaming, online matrimony, Social Networking, etc.

5) Must read posts on social media in 2008 [Link]
Brian Solis’ recommendation on a must read for social media practitioners / users

6) Predictions 2009: Online media [Link]

7) The Only New Year’s Digi PR List You Will Ever See [Link]

Seven Predictions for 2009 from e-marketer CEO, Founder Geoff Ramsey

Update2 (Jan 12 2009):
7 social media predictions by Search Engine Watch [Link]