NEW DELHI, September 30
So many people. Each one unique. That's the story of the Net, the world's largest democracy. So how do you sell your products to those on the Net?
Personalise. That is the new buzzword in the advertising world. But somebody, somewhere, has to tell you the profiles of the surfers so that you can target your advertising.
That is the new market that companies like BuzzCity and RightServe are looking at. RightServe gives potential advertisers the software to, for example, rotate banner ads depending on who logs in. RightServe will provide its clients city-based databases, so surfers in Mumbai will get a different set of ads from surfers in Delhi.
BuzzCity, which launched its India operations on Friday and has tied up with the New Delhi based 4Cplus.com, works in the following manner. Registered users can order their desired content, business stories, stocks and quotes, whatever. The company will track the content and inform users of new information on the web pages of their choice and at the time and frequency dictated by the user. That means that a registered user can get the city cinema updates on Friday evening at 7.45. Says Dr. Lai Kok Fung, CEO and co-founder, BuzzCity.com, "We want users to tell us their preferences, and we will deliver. That is where our market lies."
The service is free, but BuzzCity plans to generate revenue by selling segment user profiles to potential advertisers. Such profiles will be generated both from the information that registered users provide as well as from the tracking of URL addresses.
However, for reasons of privacy, the companies will release only segment profiles. So advertisers will be able to target, for example, Delhi-based Indian men below 30, with a particular set of banner ads, whenever they log in. However, though the technology exists, individual profiles will not be given out say company officials.
One reason is privacy. Another is size. "You have four million users on the Net. Imagine sifting through each of them!" says Sanjeev Gadre, business manager, Hughes Software Systems, who had a pivotal role in the creation of RightServe. Adds Jeremy Chang, regional manager, sales and marketing, BuzzCity, "The key to success is not the volume of users, but how well you can segment."
Companies who advertise online are doing this. The Chennai-based Intercept Consulting, which created the online campaign for Bacardi's red rum, set up a contest that everyone could enter, but tailored the database so that only the names of metro-based males above 28, were registered. They were then send gift hampers by Bacardi. Intercept servers also record the URL addresses of every surfer who visits certain sites.
Yet another reason for segmentation is the reality of the Indian online world. Unlike in the United States, in India, more than one person uses the same computer and the same URL address. NASSCOM estimates that even when the actual subscriber base of the Internet increases, computer usage will be at about 2.6 persons per computer. Hence, it does not make much sense to have individual targeting, especially as most new Internet users will be surfing away in cyber cafes instead of at home.
The advantage of online marketing is that it can be customised. "Direct marketing on the Net is different from traditional marketing. On the Net, one can finally target an audience at the exact moment when they are looking for a particular product or service," says Pankaj Sethi, CEO, Media2India.com. Another advantage is that feedback is instant and direct. The marketing strategy can be changed from day to day, unlike traditional media where campaigns, once launched, remain static. It takes approximately six months to draw up a traditional marketing strategy, while an Internet marketer is lucky if he or she has six weeks to launch a marketing campaign.
Hughes Software conducted market research that showed that on weekends Internet usage gained at the expense of television. BuzzCity has tailored its Indian strategy in accordance with its experience of the Chinese market, where just like in India, because of the low-bandwidth, and the relative expense of the Internet, up to 80 per cent of surfers used the net only for e-mail. Thus, Indian surfers are more likely to prefer summaries in their e-mail to visiting the actual site.
The consumer also has complete power over what he sees, a development unprecedented in the history of communications. Says S. Ramakrishnan, co-founder and CMO, the Chennai-based Intercept Consulting, "When the consumer has total control over what he sees, then you better know exactly what he wants."
Market research also showed that it was possible, six times out of 10, to convince the surfer to click on a banner advertisement, if it was tailored specifically to his needs.
The difference between the computer and the TV is this, when the surfer goes online, he switches on his brain. When he switches on the TV, he switches off his brain.
It is a difference that marketers had better heed.
© 2000 agencyfaqs!