Our COO Ansoo Gupta was invited by AdAsia 2011 to share her views on the theme “Uncertainty : The New Certainty”. She says one certainty that marketers should work on is to ensure that their product is good and lives up to its claims every time a consumer buys it. Stop misleading your consumer.

Every day, a consumer puts her life, her family’s lives, health, emotions, savings, earnings on the edge and buys into a product. And again and again her trust is shattered. This repeated short-changing has made her unsure and cynical. Her negative word of mouth was always powerful but now her campaign also has reach, frequency and high impact. Sales projections go haywire. Budgets go awry. More uncertainties ensue for the marketer.

Just as we don’t like uncertainty, the consumers don’t either. Given a choice, every consumer would buy bread from the same neighbourhood grocer day after day after day as long as the bread is good, is fairly priced and the shopkeeper is friendly. She will go to another retailer if the bread is not good, in which case, the move is justified anyway.

Certainty is about predictable performance.

It’s about giving the consumer a truly good product, about keeping a promise and making it a habit.

It’s about trust.


You can read full article here.

image While reading Yahoo’s Compliance Guide for Law Enforcement, Mahesh Murthy noticed that Yahoo will sell your privacy for $10 to governments who need info about you. He tweeted about it and within minutes people were talking about it online. Clearly, privacy concerns are top-center in the minds of online users and this issue is discussed here below.

Link to the original story, by Ranjana Kaushal.

Any guesses on the worth of a basic user information uploaded on online sites? Going by a recent document put up by Internet major Yahoo, the purchase cost of a basic user information is a mere $ 20 or under Rs 1,000.

According to the document titled ‘Compliance guide for law enforcement’ Yahoo states that it provides subscriber information, including chat details to the respective state governments for a price. And this price starts from Rs 500 for identity proof records that individuals share while using emails, chats or social networking on its platforms. The price for doling out information rises, depending on the nature of requirement.

Take, for example, the basic group information (including information about moderators). This is priced at approximately $ 20 or under Rs 1,000 for a group with a single moderator. The contents of the subscriber accounts, including emails can vary between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 per user. The price of the contents of the groups ranges between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000 per group.

Clearly, this means that any information that users put up in the virtual world is up for sale and Internet companies are more than willing to part with it for a price to government agencies.

"Most of the Internet companies share user information with law agencies. But in the case of Yahoo I find it particularly interesting wherein the company has put up a price list for the service. I would say it appears like a spying rate card.

It is difficult to say what kind of revenue this business might generate," says Mahesh Murthy, founder of Pinstorm, a pay for performance digital company.

While Internet firms such as Google, Rediff and others are known for providing data to government agencies for curbing terrorism, what comes as a surprise is the blatant tariff card put up by Yahoo.

Points out an industry observer, "There is little to debate on doling out information because recently terrorists have been actively using the online world to plan attacks using different IDs across the globe. Internet companies passing this information to governments help in track antisocial elements. The only thing is that pricing of such activities should be kept discreet." In the compliance guide, Yahoo mentions it has worked with law enforcement agencies and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), US to develop practices for reporting instances of apparent child pornography (CP) as required by US laws.

Upon becoming aware of CP, Yahoo’s customer care department disables public access to the content and escalates it to the company’s legal department, which reviews the content and determines whether it is required to be reported to NCMEC. "Cases where Yahoo has helped democratic governments to nail criminals are commendable. But in the Presidential form of government the state uses this power to extract information about citizens who might indulge in (even) honest protests. Looking at these aspects I feel companies should refrain from putting a price tag on consumer-related information," says Murthy.

Are Indians really getting their news off Twitter? Business Standard, one of India’s leading business papers popped us this question. Judging by what we see and monitor everyday in the Social Media space, we think this is true for a large subset of India’s online population.

[Link to the original story]

businessstandard Twitter may have gained immense popularity as a micro-blogging website but in India majority use it as a source for news.

A survey by technology site www.PluGGd.In says about 16 per cent of Indian users regularly ‘tweet’ to get news updates.

While 11 per cent use it to stay in touch with their friends, 10 per cent use the website for research purpose, according to the survey.

The social networking site, launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, came into prominence in the country during the 26/11 attacks when eyewitnesses sent an estimated 80 ‘tweets’ every five seconds, helping in compiling a list of the dead and injured.

Analysts attribute the recent surge in its popularity in India to the controversial ‘cattle class’ tweet by Union minister Shashi Tharoor, who is an active Twitter user with nearly 3 lakh followers, arguably the largest in the country.

With its growing popularity, the website is now giving a tough competition to other networking sites like Google’s Orkut and California-based Facebook, which was launched six years ago.

While Facebook has around 8 million users and Orkut has around 16 million, Twitter has 1.4 million users in India, the third largest after Germany and the US.

Twitter’s global membership has crossed the five-billion mark. Facebook, the leading networking site at present, has an estimated 300 million users across the world, while Orkut has only 51 million.

According to a Pew Internet and American Lifestyle study, almost one in every five US citizens use the free microblogging website that asks a simple question “What are you doing?”

“The key to its popularity lies with its ability to send and receive status updates via text messages, which sets it apart,” says Tejeswar Rao, IT consultant with Abu Dhabi- based software firm Vision Capital.

Priyanka Tripathi, an executive with an MNC, says, “Unlike Facebook, Twitter is very easy to access. One SMS can do the task.”

Says Rahul Saxena, a final year student of Delhi University, “Twitter is the best networking site because it can be used via mobiles,” adding that he joined the Twitters’ club during last year’s US presidential elections.

All the presidential candidates, including Barack Obama, took  extensive help of this site during campaigning.

In April, public health departments used the website to provide updates on swine flu cases and in May, astronaut Mike Massimino used Twitter to send updates of the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission — the first time the site was used in space.

According to Rao, Twitter’s popularity is going to increase manifold.

“With Bharti Airtel considering a tie-up with Twitter, allowing the 100 million-odd of its subscribers to tweet without having to pay for an international SMS, it is going to be a huge success for the networking site.

“If the trend continues like this, Twitter would soon supersede other social networks,” he says.

Besides IT majors like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys Technologies and many private banks are also on Twitter now.

“Even simple things like not having enough cash in an ATM get reported in tweets,” says Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO of search engine marketing firm Pinstorm, which monitors hundreds of tweets or conversation a day for a private bank.

“It is extremely important to react at the earliest to such problems and the tweets give the bank ample opportunity to take quick action, remedy the situation, and preserve their brand image in the bargain,” he explains.


by Seema Sindhu

The digital media industry will grow over 80% Y-o-Y as the base is quite small.

The growth potential of digital advertising is prompting traditional ad agencies to join hands with online companies.

In Cannes, Microsoft announced partnerships with two leading advertising companies — the WPP Group and Publicis Groupe. Rishi Srivastava, consumer and online marketing officer, Microsoft India, did not comment on the nature of the deals but said Microsoft was already working closely with all major agencies in India and such deals were the need of the hour.

“Online advertising is increasing rapidly and the deals are aimed at offering better solutions to large brands,” he reasons.

Figures speak for themselves. While the traditional media will not grow over 13 per cent year-on-year this year, analysts believe digital media will grow over 80 per cent Y-o-Y as the base is quite small in India. Internet advertising is a Rs 250-300 crore market and, according to a Ficci-PwC study, is expected to touch Rs 1,100 crore by 2011.

Tapping this growth requires deeper relationships between stakeholders. Some data are with agencies, some with publishers. To convince clients to put money into a new medium, the stakeholders will have to work together. Agencies are tying up with publishers for consumer research, data sharing, training and leveraging of technology platform.

Parminder Singh, business head, technology, at Google India, adds: “Now agencies are willing to do joint pitches (for accounts). One reason is also that digital is a very dynamic medium. Agencies have to collaborate with publishers for technical know-how to keep pace with the medium. Also, the social media frenzy has opened up new avenues. Offline agencies need publishers’ expertise to explore such avenues.” Google works closely with all big agencies in India.

Nitin Mathur, director (marketing), Yahoo! India, adds: “Creative agencies play a very critical role in incorporating digital at the core of any idea. This is vital because when they begin to think digital as a key alternative at a campaign conception stage, there will definitely be a larger shift of ad dollars moving from offline to online.”

Yahoo also works with them closely at a client account level, in helping shape the digital component of all marketing campaigns. It also invests in time and effort in educating creative agencies on thinking digital and even helping them learn how to develop creatives for the medium. Sidharth Rao, CEO and co-founder of Webchutney, concurs that internet companies and advertising agencies “will have to spend a lot of time and effort evangelising the medium to their clients.”

Most of the top 500 advertisers in India, according to a recent Webchutney survey, are allocating only 5 per cent of their spends on digital advertising. And, though the industry will grow a healthy 44 per cent this year (more than most other mediums like print and television), “We have a long journey ahead, which requires stronger partnerships and coordinated efforts,” Rao says.

Prashant Mehta, COO, Komli Media (an ad network which provides products and service for digital advertisers and publishers), agrees the space is witnessing more deals. Komli is also chasing some deals with some big names, but Mehta refused to divulge any details.

Independent digital advertising agencies don’t feel any threat, though. Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO of Pinstorm, believes traditional ad agencies are yet to understand how to work in the digital medium. Their structure, which separates creative and media buying, is not suited for the integration that digital needs.

Moreover, their business models, based on flat fees or commissions, are also unsuited to the performance-driven digital advertising industry. For this reason, he feels this space will probably be led by independent digital agencies. Conventional agencies also realise that independent digital ad agencies are tough rivals, according to industry observers.


by Leslie D’Monte

The swine flu outbreak has not only reached beyond Mexican borders and into the US but also invaded cyberspace. General websites including wikipedia, social networking sites and blogs have put up useful data on the risks, symptoms, and other updates.

In some cases, though, misinformation is said to have caused online panic too. A simple real-time search on Swine Flu or #swineflu on will reveal results such as: ‘time for people to stop eating pigs!’; and ‘This pigflu thing seems quite bad, you might even call it a hamdemic’.

Unofficial swine flu information on Twitter may lead people to unwise decisions, opines Evgeny Morozov, a fellow at the Open Society Institute and a blogger on

Mahesh Murthy, founder of Pinstorm, a digital advertising firm, and an avid user of twitter himself (he has over 1,000 followers), counters that the problem on twitter arose from a single site @breakingnews “which kept sending a tweet every 10 minutes on swine flu. I got around 100 updates — many of them clearly based on rumours. The problem is that @breakingnews is an automated site. I personally had to ‘unfollow’ the site and instead go to @CNN for authentic information.”

He explains that twitter is just like SMS which can also spread rumours. However, unlike an SMS (where you do not know the other recipients), you can alert other twitters on and dispel such rumours, says Murthy.

Kiruba Shankar, CEO, Business Blogging — an active twitter himself — concurs: “Twitter is a powerful tool and even corporates are getting aware of its power to inform. Such incidents do not take away from the power of Twitter.”

The increased conversations around swine flu on Twitter, where swine flu found its way into nearly 2 per cent of all tweets, are indicative of the spike in conversations around the web, states Nielsen Online. Even the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has its presence on

Also known as the ‘SMS of the internet’, Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service which enables users to send and read other users’ updates (known as tweets) which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters. The tweets are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users (via mobiles too) who have subscribed to them (known as followers).

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained extensive popularity. It has an estimated 500,000 users in India and around 20 million worldwide. Veteran (in internet time) sites like Facebook and Orkut have 6.7 million users in India and 14.5 million users in India respectively.

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