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POV: Will social media affect the clout of the homepage?

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | May 31, 2011
With many users discovering content via social media feeds, will the relevance of homepage as an advertising destination get affected in the future?

Mohit Gupta, chief marketing officer, Makemytrip.com

A bigger threat to the homepage, in my opinion, is widgetisation of content and the combination of emerging application ecosystems and personal media devices. If you get hooked to reading Techcrunch.com on the Flipboard (social magazine app) iPad app, I promise you, you are never going back to the site. A strong counter to that emerging trend is strong personalisation that creates a much stronger level of affinity between the site and the user, as Yahoo! discovered with its new homepage.

For sites that continue to evolve -- in packaging, content, and technology -- the homepage can continue to be the centrestage in the future. Once the consumer enters a site (from any media), it's up to the site to retain him. If the consumer finds the content good, he can come back directly to the homepage.

Rajan Srinivasan, senior vice-president, marketing, Web18

Professional content destinations are often 'rich information areas'. Consumers make sure that they visit such destinations to meet their specific information needs. Therefore, a consumer is likely to visit the homepage of a cricket website during a series, or visit a financial website to know about markets, or log on to news sites to track poll results, etc. If numbers are anything to go by, there is a consistent and continuous increase in visits to the homepages of these websites. It shows that vertical specific content will always be a direct destination.

From an advertiser perspective, the homepage is the 'impact' unit, and allows rich media advertising. Marketers believe that the best time to converse with a consumer is either at the beginning (homepage), or the end of a website session. Thus homepage and 'end of the session page' (log out areas) will remain important real-estate.

Amish Tripathi, ex-head, marketing, and product, IDBI Federal Life

As advertisers, we are only concerned with the eyeballs of a target segment. We will advertise on pages that get us clicks. We have no emotional connect to the homepage.

In the future, we may find the classical 'homepage' on the social media itself. If you look at the content on social media, any talk-worthy item gets posted or forwarded, creating a viral effect. This means that publishers need to create more interesting content, which goes viral on social media, and thus boosts traffic dramatically on to the relevant content page on their site. Then it will be up to the publisher to have enough sticky content on that page to make viewers stay on that site. Also, this could mean that the 'evolved' netizens may be the ones scanning homepages to find content that they can post on social media. For the rest, it's a friend who puts up a great link and they click on that link, without going to the homepage.

Tushar Vyas, managing partner, South Asia, GroupM

With the web getting more fragmented with each passing day, one may assume that the relative importance of the homepage will go down in the future, but it will not happen. The internet audience is still growing in India, and the homepage will remain or become the gateway (of content consumption) for new internet users, compared to the evolved internet audience.

It is important to consider the journey of the user and establish the relative importance of all media components (paid, owned and earned). In the future, targeted advertising will become more important. Advertisers will follow web destinations wherever they will find their audience. It does not imply that the relevance of the homepage will go down. It still remains a valuable option to build quick reach and use innovative ad formats.

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