Archive for September, 2007

Indian Internet Advertising requires Publishers not Ad Networks

With Launch of many ad networks recently we have seen debate in blog sphere talking about how innovative models are being developed by advertisement networks to attract potential ad spend. We have heard about the famous Ad to SMS model where advertiser advertisement is linked to a query form where query is sent to advertiser by an SMS. This is to increase reach to SMB segment where they dont large investments in e-commerce as delivery channel and routing customer to their website does not turn into sale.

Though i surely appreciate the innovation happening but i m seriously concerned with most of these advertisement revenues are being cornered by fewer publishers( website owners). Now ad networks will surely jump to prove me wrong but reality is that its not their fault but lack of website owners which could benefit from this huge advertisement money spend coming in India.

This is the right time for content strong low on transaction model to appear in the market and take advantage by concentrating on building viewership. The models being generated should not be INDIA region specific but could be more INDIAN GROUP SPECIFIC to engage foreign markets. So if you were waiting for the time to start a niche content specific site and didnt know how you would manage the cost associated in running such sites wait no more as ” the time is right the time is bright

Social Networking Portals vs Online Matrimonial Portals

Recently i came across an article talking about need for setting up online dating networks in India. They talked about market available effect of social networking sites in developing the segment etc. This made me run some statistics on both the segments. This not in brought in some interesting facts on how online matrimonial portal model is here to stay and also dismissed Online dating networks viability in India.

Social Networking Portals :  14-30 active user group of these portals. Where most of the activity happening in 16-24 segment. They are high school or college going students with internet connectivity and looking at cheaper mediums to remain connected with friends. The main objective being achieved remain connected with existing friends.

Online Matrimonial Portals  : 18-40 though may look quiet similar in target age group but people coming online are with defined objectives. Once the purpose is solved no need to remain in touch with people you are connected with. Status of one’s availability is clear and lot more truth put in the profile of users as compared to one being hosted by social networking portals.

Social Networking portals like facebook or even orkut cannot replace matrimonial portals in india as the cultural difference exist in a big way where in decision of marriage more than mutual consent  – family & societies involvement in process is integrated. Though in longer term it will surely effect the social model where more and more people if they remain in touch will increase closeness and in term likeness but not effecting the matrimonial advertisement model directly.

The biggest gainer from the online matrimonial segment has been the NRI’s abroad which earlier had difficulties in generating lot of queries without involvement of some local in india. Talking about NRI segment as they are suppose to be more connected or technology savvy the use of social networking tools in NRI is limited in remaining touch with people they have known and have lost touch with eg school friends, old social network,college friends, job mates etc. They are not actively using this tool to discover new people and get connected as indians still refer to it as freak stalking!!!

Keeping all the above in mind Online matrimonial portals like are here to stay and are safer option to find some one to be committed to rather than online social networking portals.

Impact of Regional Languages on E-commerce sites in INDIA

Recently i came across an article by IAMAI chief talking about how less impact does Regional languages will have on internet and e-commerce play in india. All sites you see from to are available in english as medium of instruction. This is something i am not against and i surely agree regional languages dont hold lot of importance in b2c e-commerce sites where target customer is given a product based on its merit not on basis of content.

Again even if a site has information as its model  lack of digital regional language content and inability of users to easily type in regional language using english keyboard act as a deterrent.  Even if you are ready to invest in infrastructure for delivery of information in regional language the return on investment is very marginal. Though if you are looking at integrating Mobile phones as another channel for delivery and interaction then language content can help you to reach out to masses which now has access to mobile phones but not the internet. Thats a different ball game all together. The mobile based users can benefit by knowledge of your product in the regional language and without any need of translation message can easily spread to large group of people. With most of the b2c players looking at tier-ii and tier-iii cities for expansion the need to localize content does not means changing medium of language but localizing the actual product delivered according to target market requirements.

M-Commerce killing E-Commerce or supplementing the growth

Recently whenever we have visited a customer who is looking at e-commerce channel for customer acquisition talk of m-commerce and social networking comes in. The huge marketing and access potential these 2 buzz words offer is of interest to every b2c organization. Although they might be root to our problem but real case begins with lot of customer incorrectly budget their IT spend for e-commerce segment as advertising online.

This clearly spill out companies mind set and they are yet to show confidence in channel for generation of revenue due to the fact no stand alone success story is available to lead the chart. On the other hand m-commerce applications are not helping the case with  most of them targeting distribution of information at a cost. Most of the M-Commerce players can be easily terms as Mobile Marketing companies instead of pure commerce players.

Overall its been seen customer with established e-commerce channel benefit 70% more then one only relying on just m-commerce play. We all know M-commerce is here to stay but investment in e-commerce infrastructure is for long term as today we have mobile platform tomorrow we might have interaction happening with the refrigerators directly for placing grocery orders online. This means e-channel is scalable to service such other platforms but basic investment in e-commerce platform is something clients should not run away from.

With M-Commerce client sees immediate reach out and ability to reach out to more#’s is always more attractive. This means m-commerce is restricting clients investment as brand building efforts instead of providing  a channel for revenue generation. In order for successful growth of m-commerce or any kind of e-currency based commerce need for platform based adoption is requested with m-commerce or others also acting out channel for customer acquisition and retention.

ICICI Bank Payseal Payment Gateway – Not Recommended!!!

As part of e-commerce consulting projects we do lot of people are not able to decide which payment gateway service provider to go for.  In early days when their used to be alternative between ICICI and Citibank. ICICI used to be the preferred service provider due to competetive costing and caring nature towards the customer.

But over last 36 months we have seen drastic change in quality level of service provided by ICICI payment gateway. 6 Months back during peak sales season for one of our site using their paymet gateway services since 2001 they withdrew master card service. This lead to immediate loss of 40% of our customers based on previous years record.

What really got us all worked up was not the reason they withdrew Master card service but they did it based on following reasons

i) Account selected by Master card for audit

ii) ICICI bank does not have any say in the process

Worst part was all of these actions were being taken on our account without any notification forget WRITTEN NOTIFICATION. Our  team has been following up with ICICI bank since thevn for a written response on why services had been withdrawn and why they have not been restored. Till date we have not received any response and all effort to get a response from people higher up in management has failed to entice any response.

On the other hand we begin dealing with AXIS BANK (UTI BANK) which have been supportive in finding alternative by trying to get response from master card why we cannot operate as a merchant and what we could possibly do to restore back master card service on our site. They also have a better technology interface and leaves you out the hassle for forcing customer to goto bank server for processing of credit cards. They are offering much more competitive rates but more than that consulting and advise which every first step internet merchant would find useful.

My Recommendation is to stay away  from ICICI Bank payseal payment gateway services if you would like to have trouble free online merchant experience. – Long Awaited Review – India’s Best Air Travel Search Engine

Long awaited as i have been waiting for a long time to review this site. Why Now? Before people start to comment on my review on 91di travel engine. Its important to know my intentions was not to bad mouth the ixigo portal but the business model approach. As i clearly understand most of the travel aggregators wish to live on referral sent to other transaction portal having rail and bus doesnt supplement the business model aspect. Though when they are going the extra mile and building viewer ship  why  not  have these mediums covered as well.

Getting back to the review what i like about is the right use of technology. Its one of the engineering master piece in Online Travel portal segment.  The search is not only efficient but provide multiple criteria for sorting the search results.

  • The site score heavily on UI although still rocks because of their simplicity and powerful use of AJAX combined with simple logical sense like use of calendar control which lists Monday as first day of the week (Also available at IXIGO) .
  • Search results are quicker as compared to other travel portals previously reviewed on this blog.
  • No transaction fees and coverage of low cost airlines uncluttered from marketing gimmicks for showing ticket costs after giving cash back on credit card etc used by some travel portals to gain attention from customers.
  •  I have read lot of reviews of people praising but i ran a simple search for Delhi – Bangalore 8th Sept 2007. It gave me cheapest flight result on Jet Lite flying to bangalore via hyderabad 3400 INR. Now on clicking the link to jet lite website it gave me the same option for 5300 INR. Further investigating the problem back on zoomtra site it came to my notice in case of connecting flight zoomtra hasnt calculated the taxes correctly. Though as a customer my time was wasted by wrong search results provided. On the other hand ixigo gave me correct results and didnt give me such time wasting option.


Overall while using the i faced no problem and was comfortable using it search results powered by recommendation services like fare outlook etc. Its a must use site for people who wish to plan travel in advance but only thing on my wish list not covered by ixigo is the the cheap deal sheet published on homepage of zoomtra. Good job done keeping beta in stealth mode otherwise clones would have killed the whole model.

90ditravel – Travel information aggregator in right sense

Lately we have seen so many travel aggregator sites coming up that the launch of GDS travel portals was getting overshadowed for instance when flightraja changes its name to “via” not much coverage was given by people  following the online travel industry. Though i had always wondered how can these sites like call themselves travel search engines as they only concentrate on providing information on air ticket search via travel portals and airline websites.

No one is looking at bus or train as possible combination to draw up trip. Earlier these engines might have had problem getting information online to aggregate from but now with everything from train reservation to bus reservation available online its not a struggle.

I stumble upon from and email sent by someone from the team behind the product. What interested me to review the product is unlikely other travel aggregators they are covering atleast the Train to begin with.  Keeping in mind all studies for the travel industry is talking about B & C class town where lot of them still find nearest airport 150-200 KM drive. It makes more sense to create travel iteniary which is a mix match from their hometown to final destination.

90ditravel has an effective search engine although they need to really work on the interface part. For example the search results can provide me option to sort by journey time or pricing.

The point is its good they have got the engine ready and building the result. But these results need to be formatted and  made sense of before users can seriously benefit out of them. Bottom line they need to make it more user friendly. They should seriously consider lot more use of AJAX and hiring external designer to get the job done right.  The product is good and they try to get the usability in line before or get their agreement through with indian railways to sell tickets online. They should also look at adding the combination of bus timetables and reservation to further increase reach out and mitigate any risk associated with travel portal deals getting through with the railways.

As they are still in Beta i hope to see changes requested by me as a user are also given due consideration.

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September 2007
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