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Business – Q&A;Arun Tadanki, managing director, Yahoo! India

Radhika Sachdev

The US-based internet company Yahoo! has rediscovered itself and it wants the world to know that. The company recently launched a mega $100 million global advertising campaign to create a buzz around its new avatar and a significant chunk of this money is being spent in India as well. Yahoo! India recently bombarded print, TV, outdoor and internet platforms with a high voltage promotional campaign that was unprecedented for an internet company in India. In an interview with FE’s Radhika Sachdev, Arun Tadanki, managing director, Yahoo! India, talked about the idea behind the campaign and the company’s overall India plans. Edited excerpts:

You have bombarded the media space with your mega budget global ‘It’s Y!ou’ campaign. What is this a declaration of?

The ‘It’s Y!ou’ campaign is not a short or a medium-term strategy. For the last several months, we at Yahoo! have been relooking at the way our customers use the internet. People are doing different things on the internet and it’s becoming an increasingly important part of their lives. So we have attempted to simplify their experience on the Yahoo! home page, made navigation easier and the design more user-friendly. The product overhaul came much before the campaign. Timing was important, but unlike other publishers, we did not make the promise through advertising, we did it through product engineering. A series of product innovations led to this brand promise through the campaign. We improved user experience on our home page, before we stepped up our media spending.

The search engine space, which according to industry estimates accounts for lion’s share in online ad spends, is dominated by Google. What are your plans to expand your presence in this space? Also, how many paid searches get generated out of India and how is this market growing?

It is true that we are not the leaders in search. That said, we reach about 28% (ComScore August 2009) of the Indian internet audience in search.

Our recent partnership with Microsoft not only means better reach but also more product innovation and enhancements. After our agreement with Microsoft, all Yahoo! searches will now be powered by Bing. Let me reiterate, however, that nothing changes for Yahoo! users. There are various estimates about the size of the search market in India and my guess would be as good as yours, however, one estimate is that three-fourth of all internet users in India use search engines that generate $60 million in ad revenue per annum. The market is growing at 30-35% per annum.

Nielsen Online’s AdRelevance study indicates Yahoo! is the No 2 player, with a 21% market share, in display/banner ads, after Indiatimes. Your comment?

The one big handicap about this industry is the number of studies and estimates on the online market. I do not want to comment on how they arrived at those figures because if you go by the traffic on our site, we are the market leader in display ads. ComScore assigned us 72.5% share in August 2009. So it’s very unlikely that people who visit our site would be clicking on banner ads elsewhere. But as I said, the market is so fragmented that there is no single statistic available to give the correct picture.

How are you planning to leverage your association with International Cricket Council (ICC) during the cricket season?

Yahoo! has a three-year tie-up with the ICC as the official online partner. We will be covering all major tournaments like the ICC Women’s World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, ICC World Twenty20 and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. You would be aware that there are a lot of content categories—cricket, movies and news—where Yahoo! enjoys a clear leadership position.

Our cricket site (http://cricket.yahoo.com/) receives about 1.19 million unique users (Comscore, July 2009). This makes us a clear market leader in India for cricket. The content that you see there is exclusive to us provided by the ICC for all of their major and minor cricketing tournaments.

Where does Yahoo! score on stickiness parameter?

Yahoo! has a great record in terms of repeat visits and time spent by our consumers on various properties. Over 25 million people visit us repeatedly every month, which is 72% of India’s internet audience. It’s a testimony to Yahoo!’s relevance and our ability to be at the centre of people’s online lives.

How has 2009 been for Yahoo! so far? Have too many advertisers migrated from traditional media platforms to online vehicles in a bid to cut costs?

Migration from old to new advertising media is well underway.

Although the Pitch-Madison (advertising) report pegs this growth to 16% this year, we would estimate it is 25%. Digital is still a nascent medium; there is no question that it would continue to grow in times to come.

We are all on a learning curve. It’s our responsibility to inform advertisers on how best to tap this medium. It’s a process that will only happen over time when we would finally be able to persuade them (advertisers) into putting more money into this medium.

Given the traffic social networking sites are drawing to their sites, when are you bringing Meme to India?

Meme (meme.yahoo.com) from Yahoo! is a light blogging and self-expression tool that helps people quickly share what they are interested in and passionate about—including text, photos, video, music – with the world. Meme is available in beta in Portuguese, Spanish and English and is targeted to emerging markets.

Meme from Yahoo! fits in with our aim to bring together the best of the world—information, knowledge, news, entertainment, and editorial, with the best of consumers’ worlds, friends, families, interests, locations, and communities, tasks—to provide engaging content and experiences across the global web

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October 27, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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