Thursday, June 26, 2008


The Internet Divide

The North South Internet Divide

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Where does India stand in terms of utilization of Outdoor mediums of publicity in relation to other countries? Are brands using this medium adequately?

-Chanda Pathak Mumbai

A: Chanda, very simply put, we are an under-developed Outdoor economy. We are the “Third”, if not the “Fourth world” in Outdoor usage as of now.

Australia makes good use of Outdoor. In Australia you even have human bodies
moving about as an Outdoor cluster. Walking Posters, if you may! Hungary is good at Outdoor use as is all of Europe. So is Japan.

Utilization efficacy of the medium goes n step with the lifestyle of the people of the country. More ‘Outdoorsy’ our life, the more Outdoor evolves. As we wander
out of doors more, the more is the eye-balls in this business. India is just about entering that phase with more and more people of the house spending more and more time out of home and on-the-go.

Today however, the medium is yet to mature. The medium is at best left as an adjunct and co-incidental medium which gobbles up a wee bit of expenditure of what’s left over from the mainline mediums of television and print. Brands are yet to wake up to the true-blue potential of Outdoor.

Q: Why is Internet advertising in India still so sluggish? So is the mobile phone advertising market. I have been promoting this medium for 8 years now, and yet there are not enough takers?

-Name with-held on request

A: Dear ‘Be-naam’, Internet advertising is still a pretty nascent thought. As you wallow in frustration, please note that other evangelists of mediums such as Point-of-purchase, Outdoor, Mobile advertising, and sundry such mediums have waited more than three decades to see light at the end of the advertising tunnel.

What is required is patience for the moment. The fifth ‘P’ of Marketing is really a very big ‘P’. Patience!

The reaction to the Internet is tardy at the moment. There is a dichotomy here.
India is at the nerve centre of the technological changes hitting the electronic world. At the same time, there is a North-South divide of sorts in Internet space.

We in the South are the producers. The consumers essentially sit in the
North. Our response to the internet and mobile industries is still nascent.

In the arena of telecom, we are adding on 6 million connections every month.
We are indeed one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Our internet
base is however small as yet, with 23 million surfers from India (we have grown at 33 per cent over last year). However, the depth of surfing time is weak as yet; despite India boasting one of the world's lowest broad-band connect rates!

Mobile entertainment delivery is yet to take off as an arena of work here.
We seem to be developing base platforms for the US and Europe, but we are
not too focused on India as yet here.

Bide your time. Your time shall surely come.

Q: Advertising agencies seem to be opening media schools. From the brand perspective, does this make sense? If so, what?

-Jacintha Pereira, Pune

Jacintha, there sure is a method in this madness. A full-play communications agency operating a media school offers several advantages to brand.

For one, it affords a seamless back-ward integration for the agency in terms
of academic input, and a ready school of people who are definitely
positively-coated by the magic of the mother brand.

And in terms of image, it offers the mother brand the positive cues that accrue from being involved not only in commerce, but in education and academics as well
Add one more positive to that. An ad-agency that is deep into education is
certainly not a fly-by-night operator. The image that accrues out of
academic involvement is benign. More benign than all effort at CSR activity
as well.

Remember, in India we worship two primary Goddesses. One is Saraswati and the
other is Lakshmi, among others. Saraswati comes first and then Lakshmi. We
have always revered education ahead of wealth creation.

An agency that makes Lakshmi and takes care of Saraswati as well, is indeed
a benign one.

And there is plenty of method in this madness for sure.

It offers the group a feel that is macro and more involved than another
agency involved just in commerce would have. Overtly it is this, and
covertly, it is creating for itself evangelists as alumni. Never mind
where they will work in the future, they will always remember their alma
mater with pride.

This positive equity is pretty immeasurable.

Q: Can you tell me one good example of a Tourism brand in India? And what are the challenges in building such a brand?

-Gopi Santhanam, Chennai

-I take Kerala Tourism as a classic inbound travel program and Singapore
Tourism Promotion Board and its efforts in India for outbound travel.

If you view the entire brand promotion kit of Kerala Tourism, you will see
all the fine details that are contextually correct for the inbound audience.
Not only has this been done, but efforts have been made to educate every cog
in the tourism game, from taxi-driver at airport to restaurant waiter and
bell boy. The effort has been a seamless one, and does not depend on
advertising alone.

And this is the mistake most tourism brands make. They make lovely pieces of
advertising that promise the sky and deliver the boondocks. No effort is
made to correct the ground level realities of infrastructure, soft issues of
tourist handling, courtesy and convenience and a host of 47 issues that need
to be looked into to provide a seamless brand offering.

Tourism is tough business, as there are a host of deliverables that need to
go right. Satisfaction in this space is a cascade of positive experiences.
This cascade of experiences needs to be seamlessly right. One wrong
experience is likely to nullify the effort of all else.

God is therefore in the details of the delivery. Therefore, Kerala needs to
be not only God's own country in its advertising promise, but in its
physical delivery terms as well. Consistently.

The challenges are many for sure.

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.


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