After 12 sessions & #BANNER1 & # that sought to cover practically every aspect of the mobile and online space, it might be a good idea to go quickly through some audience reactions.
At the top of the heap has to be the complaint that despite Ajit Balakrishnan's plea, some people still plugged, and plugged hard. As one exasperated delegate put it, "I suppose when a sponsor does it, you have to grin and bear it, but some of these guys are not even that!"
Or this one: "One time I can live with, but the same spiel twice in two months?" This, in reaction to a presentation by a senior honcho, who had apparently made the same presentation, word for word, anecdote by anecdote, at another online forum not too long ago.
A journalist (who else?) was heard muttering about the total absence of discussion on the role of content in the mobile and online world. To which another delegate's lament, describing the attitude of the mobile operators to content providers, might have provided some clue. "To Reliance," as Rajesh Sawhney, president, Reliance Entertainment, said, "content is king, but distribution is god. But even god treats kings better than mobile operators do, with their one-sided revenue shares on downloads and other activities."
Quite a few heads nodded vigorously when Raj Nayak listed his reasons for the failure of the Net to attract advertising: Most companies had been started by 'techies'; lack of a publisher mindset to their content; and failure to establish common industry benchmarks on ad campaigns. One person's reaction to that said it all: "So, Google is probably the worst thing to have happened to the Net!"
Speaking of Google, which apparently controls over 90 per cent of the search based advertising market in India, the company's absence at the show was noticed by one and all, even publicly, by the moderator on the search engine marketing panel. The best audience byte on it? "With the stranglehold they have, they probably don't even want to discuss competition and give ideas to planners here!"
Some speakers got more than the usual share of claps, of course. For some, being a known supporter of the Net helped as in the case of Rohit Mull, while in other cases, expressing a fervent wish for better times was enough to get loud ayes from the audience. Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran didn't do badly at all (especially for a politician) and can safely consider in his bag the votes of this constituency at least.
Going to the 'other side', i.e. from an online company to a brick and mortar company, got you mixed reactions, depending on how loyal you remained to your belief in the medium. Of course, that didn't stop an audience member from asking some of these early pioneers if they hadn't 'killed' online advertising by compromising too much in the early days. That death, we can safely say, is wildly exaggerated.
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