Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is Google Chrome killing display advertising?

Curious to know how Google chrome works, I downloaded the free version of it yesterday. As soon as I opened my default home page, I was shocked. The ads on the right side were hardly getting displayed. Then some experts told me that the Customization options will have to be tweaked to see these dynamic ads.

However, Google doesn't do anything without a central objective in mind. Since Google's business model primarily rests on search-based text advertising, the world-view of Google is that display advertising is basically annoying to users and hence un-necessary. This has prompted them to restrict the default display of banner advertising on Chrome. Many users might have found this very comforting and easy on eyes and as such may continue to use Chrome.

However, from the agency's and to some extent the advertiser's perspective, this is not a good news. IAMAI has just now predicted that online banner ads will grow by 40% in 08-09 and that SEM will double in size to $225 million by 09-10. If Chrome becomes popular, the advertisers will be forced to recognise the change in online consumer's behaviour towards minimalist approach to ad consumption. This will push their online spending to search based ads that will find its way to Google and other search engines.

It is difficult to say if it is intended. Apparently Microsoft seems to be the first victim. But Google has the history of bringing revolution to Internet usage and its various products support the growth of its primary business that is search based text ads. First they took away the heat out of display advertising. Next, the Gmail advertising took away the heat out of e-Marketing. The Google Local may take away from local display ads. Even though all these segments have grown despite search based ads, the real effect it might have had on their growth is only one's speculation.

It will be interesting to see whether and how Google Chrome can revolutionize the online user behaviour in the long run to eventually alter the dynamics of online advertising industry.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obama: Beneficiary of an extended media coverage

After a tiresome day at work, I decided to finally log into Barack Obama's site and listen to one of his recent speeches. It was a long speech of half an hour. How many of those words will really translate into reality is another matter, but I almost got out of my gloomy end-of-the-day fatigue and got all charged up to write this post.

After listening for more than 30 minutes, it suddenly occurred to me that I should also check out John McCain's site to see what he says. Being an online marketer I was disappointed to see John's site dull and boring with no videos to pick up and see instantly. All I could spot was a series of responses of his campaign advisers to what Obama had said in his speeches.

And yet again all of a sudden it occurred to me that probably John McCain was a disadvantaged candidate in the race for presidency. Why? Because he won the elections far too early to keep making any point against Obama publicly. Whereas Obama had to fight it out with Hillary before getting nominated as Democratic candidate. And that gave him a huge natural advantage of being able to go to places, speak and make a point against McCain and Hillary. On one side it helped him to topple Hillary and on the other bring out his weapon at McCain's.

Beginning from now, Obama can focus on reinforcing what he has been telling the nation, when John will be busy either making a point or reacting to what Obama has said.

In simple words, Obama can be called the beneficiary of an extended media coverage. And John, a natural victim of early victory.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Acrobat Buzzword as seen by a busy marketer

Long back, when my ex-colleague Benoy showed me a new product of Microsoft- Surface, I was really excited. It was a product that I felt like owning. I have felt the same for many other products, but the fad died too soon to be of any recall value. But this was different. It held my attention for too long. And I became its word-of-mouth agent. I was so thrilled by it, I started going to others' computers, cease their keyboard, type the link and ask them to take a look at it. I saw most of them were excited as well. This all the more motivated me to show it to more people.

I am trying the newly launched acrobat buzzword now. In fact I am writing this very draft on the new buzzword document, the online cousin of MS Word. It is not exactly a similar excitement. But surely its more entertaining than Google Word Docs. Haha...what is this? It doesn't recognize its competitor Google, it is underlining it with a red mark. Surely, the makers of the product don't like it.

Well, coming to the buzzword. The first thing I liked is the interface. The sure, confident and fast interface. The color combination is also a cool departure from the Google Docs. The grey-black and white combination on a flash version has always held my attention for long. Well, it doesn't allow the right click short-cut of the keyboard ( is it because it has a Windows symbol...a competitor again!)

But somehow, I have begun to like this. This is my first draft on this. I am not sure if I will keep coming back to this. I started similarly with Google docs, but never came back. The die-hard habit of writing everything on the desktop applications like MS Office is likely to keep me from using this medium extensively. Unless of course, I start traveling around & require to login to retrieve information.

Nevertheless, I must say that all these are building on a infrastructural legacy that Microsoft has already set up. For example, Ctrl+S is for Saving and so on. Microsoft has created an ever lasting entity on which all future operators ( some of them their fiercest competitors!) will build their empires on.

Its been a long time, I haven't posted a thing on my blog ( Oops! It doesn't recognize the word blog! Some lessons on vocabulary will do!). I also just discovered a new product extension for my blog writing...Product Reviews! An accidental glance on the newspaper made me write all this. Not bad yeah!!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Localisation : Tapping a Diversity called India

OK. First a no-brainer. India is a vast market. It is the most unique and uncomparable country in the entire world. But what is not a no-brainer is that it can drive a marketer crazy. Take any aspect: religion, caste, language, clothing, food habits, et al. It opens the marketer to opportunities and challenges right from the beginning. As many MNC marketers have learnt from bitter experiences, India rewards those who speak its language. Oops...LanguageSSS!!! Yes, there is no single language that India can claim to represent ( inspite of Hindi) just like there is no single religion, climate or food et al.

The marketing implication of this occured to me at my previous company Crystal Hues Ltd. The company cliams to be the only Public Ltd. company in the area of multi-lingual communication services. It provides translation services for any Indian and International language through a well-networked and trained professional translators. Reputed companies localise their copies basically made in English language into Indian and even International languages other than English.

These localised campaigns help companies reach a wider mass. Actually localisation as a concept is not new, though it has received a boost after globalisation. The concept of localisation has been used by reputed companies to make a dent into the Indian market after their glossy and polished English products, services and communique either fail to impress or the steam runs out after acquiring a few sophisticated customers. Take the instance of the Chinese noodles or Pizza. The noodles became popular only after the chefs realised that the Indian pallette will not eat this bland one and added Indian spices. Chinese noodles is now just a misnomer. The same is the case with Pizza.

Even the communication became localised. Be it the yester-year heroes who start dancing hearing the McDonald's Happy Price menu or the recent Nokia ad where the granny calls the emergency battery using her mobile. This was not the case a few days back. During my days at the localisation company, during client acquisition, I realised that many were not aware of this and many felt it as unnecessary. However companies that were on an expansion mode and thought of reaching to masses beyond cities started embracing these services.

Govt. regulations have also forced companies to write their names etc in local languages or they may become the target of language fanatics. However companies have seen dramatic results by localising their products and also the marketing communication.

Going ahead, the localisation market will only grow and hopefully compensate partially for the lack of efforts of the Govt. departments that claim to protect local language and culture: the true celebration of India's diversity albeit in corporate style.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Advertising Delivery: The Blue Star Fiasco

Have you seen the ad of Blue Star airconditioner? The ad seems to have stemmed from a very good research of consumers in the offices where they experience different temperatures at different places in the same office. The ad further illustrates the point by showing an eskimo in one cubicle and a camel guy in another.

The ad is absolutely fantastic. The ad agency and the research agency both have done an excellent job. It is infact so fantastic that it sets great expectations from your existing vendor of airconditioner. And it actually did in our office. Our office A/c which had been giving troubles since ages was slowly becoming a dumping yard of employee abuses. People literally wear jackets, sweaters and shawls in one part and fan themselves with paper on the other.

In a one-off meeting the problem was brought to the attention of the Management. The Management claimed that it was indeed using the best service provider in airconditioning. And then it came as a shock to all of us that it was infact Blue Star that was providing us the service. And inspite of repeated complaints and repairs, the problems remained unresolved.

The Blue Star is a case in point to illustrate that the ad message and the actual delivery may vary often to the amusement and irritation of the consumers.

But there is more to the eye than meets. The research might have indicated that people face different temperatures in the same office. But this itself is not a sufficient ground to justify the kind of marketing communication that came about. It is essential that in such revelations about the consumer, the Marketing consult their Technical counterpart and check on the possibility of eliminating a gap that has been identified. They ideally should have checked whether they can take care of such problems and live up to the message of the communication.

This is not the first time that such a variation is noticed between the communication and the actual delivery. And that is all the more reason to avoid an over-appeasing ad.