Alokananda Chakraborty

Altavista ties up with Mediaturf

The Internet-based search company is finally getting serious about the Indian market

With Internet reach having crossed the 6-million mark and growth tipped to escalate, could any serious player in the Internet space have second thoughts about the Indian market? Or doubt its potential for even a minute?

Well, that's what Altavista, the global search network, has finally come to realise after two years of relative obscurity (the India-specific site, was launched in 2000). The company is all set to make its presence felt in India through an exclusive agreement with online advertising solutions firm, Mediaturf, providing it with the much-needed advertising sales and sponsorship support. "Mediaturf is our outsourced sales representation arm," elaborates Mel Bohse, vice-president, Altavista Asia Pacific. "It has fantastic relationships with advertisers, which will go a long way in increasing the monetisation of the site," she adds.

According to Bohse, the site has multiple areas available to advertisers in addition to banner and skyscraper ads. "We have six to eight virtual search centres on the home page and sponsored, key-word specific listings on the search result pages besides an area called the marketplace, which is quite different from regular portals and sites," she claims. "The idea is to be prominent yet non-intrusive with the Indian site capable enough to handle the influx of traffic and commerce much like the other country-specific sites," she adds.

Worldwide, Altavista shows a strong presence in Europe including countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France. In the Asia-Pacific region, it is widely used in Australia, Korea and New Zealand. Interestingly, despite its low popularity in India, Altavista seems upbeat about the market, viewing it as the "next big one". "We are passionate about India," claims Bohse. "We are looking to acquire at least 10 per cent of the market within 12 months with our hearts set on seeing Altavista as the number one search engine in the country," she adds optimistically.

Outlining his plan of action for the Indian market, V Ramani, CEO, Mediaturf Worldwide states, "Our first task will be to identify publishers who use Altavista and then attempt to partner with them. Even as I talk to you, there are three -, and -who are ready to join hands with Altavista, meaning that Altavista becomes the primary search engine on those sites, resulting in users getting value-added content."

This strategy, according to Ramani has a two-fold advantage. These sites appear on Altavista's partner sites, assuring visibility, and Altavista, by virtue of being the primary search engine, gets a greater number of users, thereby driving online advertisers to the site. He is bullish about the market claiming that Mediaturf will start looking at advertisers in the next 20 days. "Well, I have mentioned only three publishers who will partner with us. But more are in the pipeline and maybe in a space of a week or 10 days, more should follow suit," he adds.

Mediaturf covers 36 per cent of the market, having served 2 billion ad exposures in the last 21 months and 800 million in the last six months. Its key clients include Prudential ICICI, Intel, Seagram's, ING Vysya, Britannia and Ministry of Tourism and the Government of India. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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