BigAdda’s billboard bash

Just last week our internal office discussion hovered around how PR heavy strategies don’t really work in India, because PR channels like live events, blogs, niche tv, industry publications are not well developed here. People also don’t seem to talk about new products without seeing some major advertising. To get a brand off the ground in India, BIG advertising is needed.

Yet another issue in India appears to be user get user marketing in the early days of a website. What’s the biggest social network in India? Its Orkut. How did you get on? Did someone invite you? No. You got on because you had a gmail id and simply used that to sign into Orkut and after that you searched and added your friends. If you look at Orkut’s fortunes (as reported by Alexa), they really took off after Gmail id allowed Orkut access.

This week we have an example that substantiates my theory. Minglebox has been struggling for a year to get any major traction and giving it company is Out of the blue comes and Reliance style plasters billboards all over town. Suddenly BigAdda’s reach (as ranked by Alexa) is the same that of Minglebox and just shy of Fropper, both of which are good mature products. Click here for Alexa’s graph

India is probably the only country in the world where a social networking site has been launched through big money mass advertising. Does it bring about a drastic change in web 2.0 fundamentals which are anchored on user get user and PR? Yes it does. It also spells trouble for start-ups and good news for big boys, which is quite the opposite in the rest of the world.

However there can be exceptions. We have seen Gmail successful adopt in India to large numbers with no ad spend even in the face of advertising (Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Indiatimes Mail, Zapak & Rediff all advertise). But then Gmail is an exceptional product, or like my CTO said “its the only damn mail that’s working all the time”.

So there is hope yet, all you gotta do is build the next Gmail ;)

15 Responses to “BigAdda’s billboard bash”

  1. Jasmine J says:

    Hello people,

    A good product or portal never ever needs a massive outdoor / TV / Ad campaign…..A Big ad campagin is a simple way of annihilating existing medium and small players, literally scaring the right kind of entrepneurs who have very little or no money!

    Here’s a simple quiz for all you Guru’s join Facebook and you have more then 50 genuine friends from college, last job, acquaintance or a new poke buddy!

    I seriously doubt this will ever ever happen on BigAdda, Fropper ever! Infact there are so many fake profiles that after u join this networks you get randomly a mail after like 3 or 10 or 15 days saying hey my name is dimple 675 would love to know u a bit more, let’s catch up or add me…Duh?!

    Further Chk this some smart ass just made it BIG!

    Both go to:

    and they have more then 150,000 + jokes by 15,000 + users I personally find more kool !

    @ Rashmi I agree with ad roll it was kinda crazy I jumped of the pool when I saw the TOI front page black for the first time ever!

  2. Iqbal says:

    I haven’t read all replies above, but heres my take.

    1. I recently interviewed a person for marketing, I asked them howto market a new email system

    reply: TV ads, banner ads, and hoardings

    My reply: So which part of this can a peon not think of
    reply: silence

    The moral of this story is that everyone is of the thought that startups needs money to get its product out. The only reason, or point at which you advertise your product is
    a) If your product already exists (eg chocolate bar) which everyone understands, and you are trying to develop your own brand
    b) People understand what your new concept does

    Most startups come with a “new idea” or a new concept, which if you try to push on a 30 sec commercial will just not fly.

    Again using interview I had

    2. Name one large internat based company which marketed

    reply: silence

    Again answering the question, all companies which grew, grew organically at first, this allow you to build the foundation, and fine tune the product, at which point its is ready to scale, fi you scale to soon, your product goes pear shaped.

    I am all for PR, since you need to get the message out, BUT ads like bigadda, what an absolute waste of time, who needs a MBA to produce rubbish like that. Some person sitting in reliance is getting paid for that waste of space.

    Do they not know you cannot force people into a social network, has anyone asked how does bigadda differ from orkut, why would people move.

    Any big internet player today has two things in common
    a) the user does not pay

    b) they never marketed (well not in the early days)

    India is social, 2.5 million people on orkut cannot be wrong, but unlike other products such as FMCG type of things, internet apps/websites grow from the ground up, whereas the others grow from the top down. Reliance could have spent more money on a better product, and started to seed people, and give them a reason to use it.

    To use one of the companies I am working with as a example, we did PR, our target 10000 customers, we reached this with ease, why 10K simple, enough to get good feedback, test infra, and get feedback on what is needed, what is good nd bad, and in addition enough to allow us to sort out back office processes. Dont get me wrong, still far from perfect :-)

    Desimartini also advertised on TV, claim is 250K customers, if so that would make them a pretty big network in India…I have not met anyone who is a member, if someone on here is, let me know.

    Minglebox, again am yet to know anyone who knows/uses it

    Q. Why would you join any network
    A. because enough of you peers are

    This is the single reason (well according to my narrow minded world :-0) why people join. Soooo in order to get the network to take off, you need to create a critical mass of users. BUT, and heres the BUT, this does not mean you need 5000 users across India, or spread throughout the globe, what it means is that you need 5000 people within a local community, who all talk about it. Assuming this 5000 people represent 60% of users of a particular community, the other 40% will join, because everyone they meet will start to talk about it. So the key is to build multiple critical masses in multiple niches.

    These niches can be on existing portals, closed groups (mailing lists), people who do same hobbies, or people from the same company.

    Once these niches start to overlap, then these niches start to combine to build a social network.

    Enough of the rant, it just annoys me that companies like reliance just dont get it, surely someone in the ambani family must be able to see that the old way…is not the new way.


    PS the model above differs if you are charging for a service…you need to create trust…not as much (as ten years ago) but some

  3. Yes Billboard plastering works in India.
    But it need not necessarily be big-money driven. All it needs is visibility, to grab juntaa by their eyeballs, on even a small budget.
    e.g. in its early days teamed up with rickshaw-wallahs in Mumbai, to spread the word. 1 out of every 10 rickshaws had written in white paint on their canopy.
    My curiousity was piqued, I wanted to know what the rickshw wallahs wer tring to convey by carrying URLs on their 3-wheeled wonder-wagons.
    When I surfed to Mouthshut I realized it had nothing 2 do with rickshaws but was hooked on nevertheless, due to its compelling social network tools.

  4. Rashmi V. says:

    Has anyone here heard of
    They had the most terrific advertising campaign a portal could have.. yet now it’s nowhere to be seen.

    In my opinion Advertising will help web 2.0 products only to drive some top of mind recall for as long as the campigns run. Sustainability will be driven entirely by stickiness, how smart your mangement team is and how ” cool” your product really is.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day ! Nor is ROI.

  5. nishant says:

    I would think that the sample size is too small to suggest that BigAdda’s traffic is competing with minglebox and fropper in a sustainable way.

    Again alexa is not that accurate, especially for a comparative analysis over a small period of time because specific high traffic sources might have their demographics skewed in favour of a very high(or low) percentage of users with the alexa toolbar installed.

    Personally, I would bet that BigAdda is just a couple of crores down the drain.

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