afaqs!

AOL gets into local act, launches video search

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | November 01, 2007
AOL India has launched vernacular portals in Hindi and Tamil, and has launched Truveo in India, its video search engine

Breaking & #BANNER1 & # its silence since the tie-up with MTNL in August, AOL India is finally showing that it means business. The online portal announced the launch of two vernacular portals in Hindi and Tamil. It also launched the Indian version of its video search engine, Truveo.

PG Ponnapa, managing director, AOL India points out, "The vernacular portals are not translations of the English portal. It is more about understanding the culture of the people who read in these languages." The layout of the two portals are different from the AOL India site and Ponnapa claims that the content is different too.

Truveo, the video search engine of AOL, has been launched in 15 international markets including India. The plan is to be present in 30 countries by the end of 2008. Truveo does not host videos like YouTube but does feature the top video content from various video sites. Tim Tuttle, CEO and co-founder of Truveo and senior vice president, AOL Video, said that the site receives 40 million unique visitors per month in the US. Tuttle added that the company will be experimenting with ads in future for Truveo. This could include display ads and targeted advertising that it has on the US site.

AOL Hindi
AOL is also relocating its headquarters for international expansion operations to Bangalore, said Ron Grant, President and COO of AOL. This is in addition to the development centre which already exists there. "We are making large investments in India," said Grant, adding that its technologies like Third Screen Media (the mobile marketing company it recently acquired) and Platform A (a display advertising platform it has developed) are especially important in the Indian market.

AOL is also stepping up its distribution strategy. Its tie-up with MTNL gives it access to up to 70 per cent of broadband customers in India, said Ponnapa speaking to agencyfaqs! The company also has a tie-up with HP to have AOL services in-built in HP's laptops beginning January 2008.

PG Ponnapa
On the localisation front, AOL has no immediate plans to introduce language typing tools (like Google's and Yahoo's). "Typing in another language is difficult," explains Ponnapa. However, he adds that localisation is just picking up in India and it could take 12-18 months for it to catch on.

There is also the absence of a social network in AOL's portfolio. "Social networking is a niche of non-portals," says Ponnapa. The company's popular messenger ICQ may also not make an appearance in India soon, as Ponnapa says that the AIM messenger is already integrated in its e-mail service.

The slew of announcements show that after a quiet start, AOL India is sending out the message that it is ready to take on the competitive Indian market.

As Ponnapa sums up, "We want to have the best of international products and serve them local." AOL will also be hoping that the new announcements will lead to greater buzz around its India debut.