Posts Tagged 'social networking india'

Is Facebook worth spending Advertising Dollars

Over last couple of months i have spent lot of times in measuring performance of advertising campaigns on facebook targeted towards Indian IP audiences. But really except for one really dont have a success story which proves Facebook banner display inventory really works for advertisers.

But before we go into details of it works or doesnt work for an advertiser we need to understand the audience available. As most of the campaigns have run are from Indian audience target perspective what we really understand about the rthem on facebook till now is

i) Primarily Sec-A

ii) Average age Male – 23 Female 25

iii) Average time spent on site per user > 45+ Minutes per day

So the audience really sounds prime to be focus of any type of advertiser let it be brand or performance but then why dont we see success.  Now before i start talking about it just to make sure we are not talking about facebook apps, viral marketing etc here. We are looking at facebook from pure display banner/rich media advertising perspective.

What we have seen till now is very high level of engagement of users with facebook as a product ignoring anything outside the framework completely.  what does it translate in terms of CTR(click through rates)

If its a targeted campaign you may see CTR between 0.03-0.04% but in case you run an un targeted campaign it in terms of targeting all Indian IP users then we see CTR between 0.05-0.07%.  If you just go by these numbers then it break laws of all fundamentals one learns as a media planner where targeting is considered god.  But one needs to understand the property more in general instead of just classifying it part of social networking channel. If you compare facebook to myspace or linkedin biggest difference what you see is facebook is just a communication tool between people. Its not generating any content like myspace etc. Which creates a big difference in engaging user to think and then react in terms of suggestive advertising. If you look at properties on offer at facebook compared to Yahoo! Mail for instance, If i was to advertise will select Yahoo! mail over facebook if during pure vanilla display advertising any day why as facebook just offer 120X600, 728X90 which are based on user/community profile pages or search pages etc.

No advertising on Profile page in terms of 300X250 or Logout page etc, We have tried advertising via facebook apps and they tend to give better CTR as compared to what is offered by direct advertising on facebook property. Biggest thing what i have realized is if you want to use facebook to derive traffic to your own property then it will not really meet your RoI set out but if you look at the medium to interact with your product audience,engage get feedback and work on reputation management then display advertising on facebook can complement the actions. for instance if you would like to promote an event or create a community around your product and  then you advertise it to facebook users using the ad inventory available you will see better return and measurement shouldnt be clicks or CTR but number of users aggregated to your community and ARPU generated through a defined 3 months activity plan after aggregation of user.

If you are a brand and have defined resources to manage on going relationship with audiences then it makes complete sense for you to take facebook route and explore interaction opportunities with your audience but if you plan to do a one off blitz and looking for return then trust me facebook is not your cup of tea. Will be glad to share more learning if anyone needs help. – Indian Localized Social Networking Platform

While working on post researching vertical specialized social networking platforms, came across an email from founder of . After visiting the site found the concept interesting but could not understand the business model.

Would like to thanks Sumit for replying back to my questions. Here it goes

Q1. Brief about

CommonFloor is a secure online portal for apartment communities, fostering greater community interaction and offering useful services to the residents.

Q2. Why start a portal, why not try the concept out on a community group of facebook or orkut where already adoption of interaction platform exist?

We tried with the thought of having an app on already existing popular social network but that simply did not work out. CommonFloor is less of the social platform and more of the local platform. With this I mean that people generally don’t want to mix their social circle with their local circle (people they are living with). Also community features are just one dimension of CommonFloor. It offers value to its users in other dimensions also like local information, useful services, administrative features, etc. And with that reason idea of launching CommonFloor as open social app gets ruled out.

Q3. Can you tell us something about the founders their background and what skills they bring to the project?

Lalit and I, both are passed out of IIT Roorkee (thank god not thrown out, courtesy friends). We joined Oracle as the part of campus selection and served there for 1 year as the part of Enterprise Manager Team. Lalit has been rightly called as the idea box since our college time and got a US Patent in his short stay with Oracle.

We both have relevant product development experience and had worked with a couple of startups during our graduation time.

Q4 What and Where is your target audience. How much user interest has site been able to entice till now. Which is the most used feature of the site?

Our user lives in apartment complex and generally married. They are both working professionals and housewives. Site is doing pretty good in about 30 apartment complexes in Bangalore. 160+ apartment complexes have signed up to use CommonFloor as their information management and community building platform. The people are discovering their neighbors most. Things like who is from your native place, who plays cricket, and finding companions to watch a football match together is also in the list. Residents are also using local services like accessing restaurant menus and ordering food online. Apartment Association is finding it useful to have single console management for all their needs and sending important notifications to residents, resulting in better participation in events and activities.

Q5. What is your primary business model behind the project. How do you plan to sustain the venture?

Primary business model is the local advertisement space. We have already tied up with a couple of brands. The execution of the plan will be happening in the next coming months.

Q6. Social Networking has changed how people interact around the world. With today’s youngsters checking their orkut and facebook updates every hour do you feel its pulling people away for feel and touch socializing.

I remember the social networking sites starting up with connecting you with your friends who are placed at some distance to you in space or time. So basically it’s a good idea to connect with your friends with whom there is no feel and touch socializing possible. I agree with it that it might pull people away from real socializing. I feel a need of local networking sites like CommonFloor where people are discovering avenues to meet in their locality, where real life socializing and collaboration is actually possible.

Q7. What are the main hurdles you face in scaling your business?

Meeting up with user expectations is one of the biggest challenges we faced. When we just started up, we had the habit of listening to our users and incorporating their inputs. But now the same become tough. Now the product is much more stable and has become mature and to put up a new feature, we require a number of our users to ask for it.

Other things include getting good people, equally motivated, to work with us. Also the marketing plans and expansion plans have to be re thought of.

Q8. Do you feel their scope in India for other vertical social networking platforms to emerge?

I do feel the need and scope of verticals, provided the vertical can’t be served by having an app on already existing social sites. It should preferably be solving some need rather than just catching up with like minded people. The focus should be inducing some activities in the network. It has to be built around an important part of the users lives.


What i personally found interesting is the way they are looking at social networking. Although their concepts are pretty strong trying to connect locals living in same apartment sharing information which to me earlier sound unusual as till date we have seen primary use of social networking portals to remain in touch with people distance apart.Though i remember couple of years go people living in same dorm in uni use  to stay touch using DC++ Chat rooms and Bulletin Boards hosted for counter strike, this is pretty much similar concept and i recon if can combine more accessibility services like mobile notification of activities or addition of information on lets say menu cards of restaurants etc would help build stronger community.

Other than suggested use of Mobile as medium biggest problem i see in the business model is inability to attach transaction model other than advertising. Their are couple of VAS opportunities which they need to explore to make their business more sustainable.

Hope to see more local communities getting e-enabled using

Indian vs International Social Networking Sites

Since last year lot of people had talked about social networking sites and opportunity it provides to advertisers for reaching out to potential user base.But not much activity was really seen keeping in mind digital advertisers/ agencies approach not to experiment much except to deal with top 10 publishers in India which have their own sales team or take initiative in getting themselves noticed.

Our home grown social networking sites have not really performed with indian networks even yet to open up their inventory. Although facebook, myspace, hi5 are international sites they do get significant #’s from india which surely make them easily break into top sites for users from India.

Alexa Stats | India Ranking – 53 – 86 – 11

Orkut – 3

Perfspot – 27

Indian Social Networking Sites

– – 22

– – 45

– Minglebox – 96

as you can clearly seen International social networks have higher reach with audiences there are couple of factors which really attribute to their success.

International Networks which are hit abroad get easily adopted by NRI community to connect with their peers locally at university,workplace,interest group level which leads to invitations bombarding in their Indian Peer group which are highly net savvy primarily social urban population this means faster adoption as compared to their indian peers

This is also the reason why advertising campaigns on social networking sites are also getting lower click through rate. As these net savvy users have already learnt to block out non engaging advertisers.

Advertising trend wise International sites like facebook has shown greater response to brand advertisers as compared to performance advertisers if combined with behavior and profile based targeting instead of normal contextual targeting.

Indian counterparts are currently working on generating adoption to their platforms using advertising on other people’s inventories as compare to their own. Once probably they are done with their own we may see them opening up to indian advertisers and really be able to judge their platform advertising potential.

Will talk about which campaign work work best on Indian Social Networking Inventory in next post.

HTMedia Gobbles up

When i read today it was not a surprise to know that has been sold off. Everyone in the industry pretty much knew that has been sold off by the Pahwa KBS family.  But valuations they have indicated are pretty hard to believe.

Even if i do basic maths HTMEDIA has paid up around 40$ per user they have acquired which in indian context is 1600 INR ARPU they are looking from each user. Keeping in mind how social networking sites are valued it should not have been greater than INR 450 ARPU as except for brand advertising the social networking inventory has not been a hit on providing return for performance advertisers which India is heavy on.

It will be interesting to see what efforts are put in to first keep the viral for desimartini alive and on other hand will HTMEDIA  bring in synergy from existing content they are generating on to bring social networking to news site viral which is long talked and not fully implemented in indian scenario.

Lets wait and watch. – Education Portal or Social Networking Play!!!

While reading through daily feeds coming in from various blogs i noticed one made by alootechie on Education sector for long has seen rise and fall of many information sites. Problem which many of them face are traction within the community. as pointed out a by rajesh a mantra consulting company is doing the directory with student empowerment route which lot of MBA sites like, and at one time bought being bought over by NIIT) took.  See one thing is good is they have got the idea right but have taken the steps wrong. In sense everyone tries to map the navigation and search steps as the way sites in west behave. Although one needs to understand the real audience for the sites. If you are trying to copy coolavenues or pagalguy in terms of product modeled with differentiation on targeting it wont really work.  As target audience set is really extreme.

Few facts on education sector which i have gathered based on my experience working with education centric portals.

Audience Targeting:

In india people tend to get the audience targeting wrong. precieve audience which uses the site is totally dependent on type of education information one is looking for.

K-12: This domain you may still find childrens/teachers sourcing information for enhancing education

Undergraduate Program: This is my favorite and most unbelievable fact 70% of information being mined or read on internet as a medium is not by prospective student but by parents,brother-sisters,uncles and aunty the whole eco-system around but the prospective students. So if you go out there and surf the sites which are available catering to this segment are only worth while for 30% of people looking for such information. This is the reason why forums dont work in these sites or ask a student doesnt really make a difference.

Graduate Program: Audience looking for this information is more qualified focus and 85% of time prospective student himself is looking for information.

Profiling of Colleges and matching to users

Lot of people profile the colleges on basis of things like career paths like engineering, B.Ed etc.  This means provide information to those people who are already clear on what they want to do in life and reach a source which helps them simplify their play. Though this is again 20% of prospective student population what about the rest of 80% which forms the confused category and is joining any engineering program which they can get in as infosys will surely visit the campus for recruitments or traditionally the engineering program is good for a school so the MBA program offered will also be great. Just becoming a doctor is necessary and it really doesnt matter if they didnt get into MBBS but with degree in dental they feel they still have achieved what they wanted(P.S no offence to dental people and i know dentist makes more money in west but its for my those friends who wanted to become an MBBS and by change went on to become a dentist).

Online models gives us opportunity to create dynamic systems which adapt to type of users and behave on responses to the level of clarity a user has. Though still sites come up with simple interfaces and basic model. I had wanted to do a post on but for some reason social networking play is not being used to best of its capability by these new portals.

Opportunity in education sector is immense due to clarity in any one site leading the charge for the vertical.  try naming top 10 in the sector and rest all will make sense.

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July 2020