Friday, November 21, 2008

Online Customer Acquisition - Session ID vs Cookie Tracking

The following diagrams illustrate the difference between Session ID & Cookie based tracking

Session based tracking

Cookie based tracking

Most of the advertisers in India use Session based tracking to track performance. This is like evaluating a TV ad by correlating sales within 5 minutes of airing the Ad!! The effect of this tracking is that the Advertiser will allocate the Action /Sale to the LAST referrer. So say if a user sees a banner Ad for a job portal (for discussion sake let us say it is TimesJobs) on monday clicks on it and decides he will fill in the resume over the weekend since there is a lot of information to be provided which will take time. Let us say over the weekend he doesnt remember the exact spelling of the job portal and he goes to Google and types Jobs at Times and finds the link and then clicks and goes on to filling the resume. In this case is it fair to give ALL credit to Google?

See this in context of let us say a Bank that generates leads of credit cards. Online application forms of banks for Credit cards run in 4-5 pages and has information like PAN number etc. Lot of these details may not readily be available with the user or the user may just want to bookmark the page and come back to it later. Should the advertiser not recognise the role of the other referrers in the user journey before buying? It is a pity that Advertisers in India are not making use of wealth of information of a user journey before he finally buys from their site.

Fortunately Internet technology allows us to track all this, however, Advertisers must be willing to make use of superior technologies and must be willing to change their mid sets else they will never be able to fully optimise their online customer acquisition activities.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Online Ad Networks in India

Ad Networks have been operating in the Indian online space for over 2 years. They have now started achieving some scale and it is estimated that they now account for almost 15-20% of the online display advertising in India. Buys on Ad Networks have started figuring in almost 75-80% of the media plans.

The following are the kinds of networks:

Rep Networks

- They represent the publications in their portfolio,
- Provide full transparency for the advertiser about where their ads will run.
- Promote high quality traffic at market prices and are heavily used by brand marketers.
- Pricing model : Generally CPM
- Leading examples of Rep networks operating in Indian space - NDTV repping for MSN's inventory, Publicitas Digital.

Blind Networks

- Low pricing model
- Marketers relinquish control over where their ads will run.
- Achieve their low pricing through large bulk buys of typically remnant inventory combined with campaign optimization and ad targeting technology.
- Pricing model - Generally CPC or CPA
- Most popular players - Ozone, Komli, Tyroo

Targeted Networks

- Focus on specific targeting technologies - behavioral or contextual.
- Specialize in using consumer click stream data to enhance the value of the inventory.
- Pricing model - Generally CPM or CPC in some cases

Affiliate Networks

- Fully transparent network focused on Performance.
- Pricing : CPA
- Indian Affiliate network: DGM India

Advantages of Networks:

Reach at lower costs. 50% of page views happen outside the top 2o sites and users spend more than 60% of their time outside the top 20 sites. These users can be reached at a fraction of cost through networks as compared to reaching them through top 20 sites.

Ease: By using the technology & relationships of networks with publishers, an advertiser can reach literally tens of thousands websites through one single window. They can monitor efficiency of the buys also from one single intrface, making it very simple & convenient for an advertiser.

See the following coverage by DNA of a recently held session on Ad networks in India in an IAMAI session:

Ad networks will grow in prominence with time. I personally feel that there will be 4-5 good networks that will survive & thrive easily in India in times to come.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The future of Indian Web 2.0 brands - will they make money?

There has been a plethora of almost me-too brands that have mushroomed in India all of them inspired by success of brands like Orkut, Facebook etc.

I feel that most of the Web 2.0 brands have ‘technology’ at their core. Take the case of Web2.0 vertical - social networking – which has Orkut & Facebook as the leaders or Global /Generic Search Engines where the best technology offering like Google & Overture are the undisputed leaders in terms of share of mind & wallet. Similar case is of photo sharing & blogging sites.

The biggies can score very easily over small Indian start-ups. I am not sure if an Indian start-up can match tech prowess / capabilities of a Google or a Facebook who may have millions of dollars just to invest in technology & product engineering. I personally feel that Indian companies do not have the capabilities, might or mind-set to compete in offerings that are purely tech led.

Another issue that a Web 2.0 brand will have to constantly face is migration of people to newer offerings as and when a better technology offering with better bells & whistles come in. A case in point is people migrating to Facebook away from Orkut.

On the other hand, where the differentiator is “Compelling localized offering (localized / topical content / local buzz) – there is a huge potential for Indian start ups in the Indian market. Vertical like Local Search Engines, Travel portals, Online Shopping comparison sites, online classifieds, niche community sites, horizontal /local news sites etc. have a huge potential to scale up in India.

However, I see that almost all Indian Web 2.0 companies have not got any really well thought out differentiators that can set them apart on parameters other than technology. In light of this the BIG question is - will the Indian Web2.0 brands make money for their promoters?