Friday, March 31, 2006

Online Listings / Classifieds businesses in India

This business is a personal favourite. I believe that the achievement of scale in this segment has led various stakeholders to reaffirm their belief in the Indian Internet space !

The estimated size of online classifieds business is around US$ 55 million (INR 250 crores). It today is one of the larger online business segments in India and is growing at more than 100% y-o-y. In fact it is already started posing grave threat to the growth of the print business which is growing at a more sedate pace of 10-15%.

I am putting some of my estimated numbers:

Jobs / Recruitment
Print : Rs. 100 crores
Online: Rs. 200 crores

Total Classifieds business
Print: Rs. 500 crores
Online: Rs. 250 crores

Advertising revenues
All media: Rs. 12,000 crores
Online: Rs. 400 crores (including online classifieds)

Key takes from the above:

  • Online classifieds business (Rs 250 crores) is larger than online advertising business wihtout classifieds (Rs. 150 crore)
  • Online ad industry is just 3.3% of total ad industry. Whereas online classifieds are already 33% of the total classifieds business.
  • Online classifieds as percentage to total online advertising at 62.5% is disproportionately large when we compare it with classifieds as percentage of total media advertising volumes which is at just 4.3%.
  • Online jobs as a category is double the size of print already!

What is making online classifieds grow this fast? Two main reasons - firstly online medium helps fulfils the need better in classifieds space than the offline medium. Secondly, and more important is the aggressive sales approach taken by the online classifieds players. They have put a humongous number of feet-on-street to solicit listings from all kind of recruiters starting from large companies down to small businesses. Currently there will be more than 1,000 people selling listings of various jobs portals across the country.

It will remain interesting to observe the growth rates over the next 1-2 years of both print as well as online classifieds.

Update : 10th April 2006

TV18 acquires 50% in JobStreet India For $2 Million : Content Sutra

Related Link

Monday, March 06, 2006

Internet 2.0 in India - heightened activity

Past 3-4 weeks has seen a spate of activity in terms of investments by funds into existing as well as new portals focusing on different business models. This comes on the heels of anouncements of investments in three new travel portals

Karodpati Gets $2 Million From Draper fisher Jurvetson and DFJ ePlanet Ventures / launches online movie rental service , March 03, 2006 : Venture funding of Rs 100 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Mauj Telecom Gets $10 Million From WestBridge, Intel And Sequoia February 23, 2006

Kleiner Perkins And Ram Shriram At It Again In India; Pick Up Stake In, Februrary 03, 2006

I am sure in times to come, we shall see more such businesses being launched and some of them will surely go on to beoming successful and will create value for their stakeholders.

One thing is certain that all the new portals will give the Indian internet users more options and more compelling offerings. This will lead to growth of the overall "internet" pie in India.

Update: March 9th, 2006

WestBridge Capital invests $8 Million Into, March 8th 2006

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Online advertising in India: How to make the big leap

The Indian online advertising market size is estimated between 150-175 crores and is growing at more than 50% year-on-year. Almost 70-80% of online advertising is happening on a handful of large sites like Indiatimes, Rediff, Yahoo India , Google India, Sify, Moneycontrol and MSN India. Compared to print and television the number of players and market size is still very small. To exponentially grow the online advertising business, I feel that the Indian Internet portals can do better by focusing on the following:

Selling accountability

Search advertising globally is already as large as banner / display advertising. What makes search advertising so special? Well two main reasons, firstly search advertising is contextual so it leads to better response and secondly and more important the entire cost is based on performance (clicks) i.e. an advertiser only pays when someone clicks on his ad.

The Internet portals who depend on banner advertising will increasingly have to face this challenge – they will made to be more and more accountable by their advertisers who use the medium to advertise and increasingly start using tracking tools to evaluate the performance of their campaigns (in terms of number of clicks/ leads etc). One needs to remember that Internet is the only truly accountable medium for advertisers and further it is so easy to track performance of an internet advertising campaign.

The Internet portals will like the advertising deals to be on impressions (Cost per thousand or CPM basis) rather than on performance (Cost per click or CPC basis). I do not understand this logic, as the advertisers in due course of time will calculate down to the last paisa the cost per unit of performance (per lead or per click) even in the CPM deals. Accordingly the cost of CPM itself may drive down in case of low performance delivery! A manifestation of this can also be happening in form of advertisers insisting on larger banners as they will naturally tend to give better response!

So, rather than lamenting about Internet being over accountable, the Internet portals should actively start selling and positioning Internet on its true strength of accountability. They should also learn from listing models like Naukri etc where the only criteria for advertising is performance!

Self help model : Target small advertisers

How do we grow the advertising pie? One of the ways is obviously to get more and more new advertisers to start advertising online. Currently all Indian portals are grappling with getting the offline big / national advertisers to start spending online. This is proving to be a daunting task itself, however, no one is focusing yet on the smaller advertisers. One of the problems with approaching these people will be the small ticket / order value. The cost of servicing these clients will become very high. This is where Internet technology can come into play. It can allow an advertiser to set up and manage his own campaign on a site. I have not yet seen any such offerings from Indian portals. Maybe we should learn from Google who have thousands of advertisers using self enablement / help model and advertising on their sites.

Of course one can argue that Google’s self enablement model works on text based ads, but I am sure we can extend the same logic to self-enable display / banner advertisement campaigns.