Sunday, 12 April 2015

Caroline Campbell Troman, Yahoo APAC's Programmatic Buying Head

The latest and the greatest buzz is "programmatic buying"in the media buying/ advertising world. To those that may know, Yahoo is emerging as a key player in the new-gen AdTech world, with deep and solid investments that are paying off big returns, for example:
In this video, I explore the state of play in India and Asia with Caroline, the APAC head of YAHOO’s programmatic buying.


"Changing how community raises boys"- Will Muir, founder of ECF, an NGO

"We are changing the way community raises boys, so fewer boys become violent towards women” this is Will’s purpose in setting up his charity in Pune, 6 years ago, where he has built a centre of excellence. The scale of the issue is huge. India has +270 Million boys < 18 years, and about 40% of them would, left unchecked, be abusive to women. They have identified four principal actors that they work with- peer groups, male role models, parents, teachers and the education system.They work with 20 Pune communities, with 40,000 people. 60% of the women who live with the men have experienced a significant reduction in abuse...


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Debashish, Zee Digital: What makes a Great OTT Product?

Debashish heads all things digital at Zee, which through its, has a base of ~28 Million users built in the last 24 months with properties such as,,,… We look at OTT (over the top)  products and what it takes for the OTT to be successful.

Take video platforms- by definition, a platform has to have a lot of content. Which means, even if they are producers of content, the platform would have a lot more than their own content. So how do they create stickiness? The answer lies in the mix of product proposition  and technology. Can they reduce buffering lag, regardless of the connection spottiness.  Can they make recommendations that nail the consumer preference, based on the kind of videos they watch? Can we make the discoverability fast? How do they get to their videos at the shortest possible time. .A strong product proposition, with a complexity simplifying technology platform , with great content is key.

Whats the future? The big shift that’s coming up is the spawning of new, organic content  through building up the ecosystem. Whilst  professionally produced content ( e.g. Bollywood/Hollywood)  still holds sway, new organic content producers are coming up who have huge followings. How can they be supported and expanded will hold key.  Witness the buying of ,who are creating more and more youtube stars, by Dreamworks animation.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

What happens when everyone has the power to defame? Video with Karthik Srinivasan, @beastoftraal

A very interesting conversation with a a very cool, down-to-earth digital guru, @beastoftraal.

Remember the Bhubaneshwar flight  in February where the girl filmed her alleged predator and the youtube video went viral?  Well, Karthik takes on an alternate point of view, and we debate the “other” side of social /digital media, where every individual has the power to defame… 

Along the same lines is the very interesting article in the NYT,which talks about how one unthinking small message somewhere can unwind your life

And of course, the earliest and the most touching of these-


Dhruv Chopra- Carwale -“Smaller towns in India and Mobile are fuelling tremendous growth"

My chat with Dhruv Chopra, Marketing and Sales head of He shares some fabulous insights on whats happening in the Indian Car market...
  1. By 2014, your Tata Indica was packing more features than the big luxury brands such as BMW, Audi in 2011..Thats how fast the market is evolving.
  2. The move towards small towns is startling. 3 years ago, delhi and Mumbai was half of our site traffic. Today, less than 30% of our traffic is from Delhi+Mumbai+Bangalore. The long tail of small towns has expanded exponentially. Every week , based on user requests, we are adding new towns to our list of 3000 towns. Mobile is driving this completely for us.
  3. Behaviour on Desktop vs mobile:- Desktop is about research, content consumption, Mobile is more task based.  As your set closes towards to point of purchase, the consumers increasingly use mobiles.When people migrate to mobile app, they rarely come back to the desktop.
  4. Our site is a forward indicator of sales numbers. People buy after 2-3 months of search. What they are searching for today will result in sales 2 months from now.
  5. Luxury brands. "The Volvo V40 cross car was an outstanding success- has 3-4 month wait periods". He talks about how luxury brands are growing, Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, BMW, Mercedes... 
  6. We tend to think this market is all about fuel efficiency. That’s true for the Rs, 5-6 L cars. After Rs 8-9 lacs, fuel efficiency drops,  at the 30 Lac price point, fuel efficiency is 5th or 6th in priority list. Maruti has a huge range in a tight price segment. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Why did Disney buy Maker Studios for $1B? My Video with Gautam Talwar

Why would Disney, a content creator, buy Maker Studios, an MCN that aggregates youtube content for a Billion dollars? Try this- Maker Studios has +9Billion views and boasts of a star roster including rockstars such as pewdiepie...
What’s an MCN? What a broadcaster network is to show producers, a Multi Channel Network is to YouTube channels and youtube. They are the programmer/ curator that sit between these channels and the distribution platforms.Their role is to help organise,commercialise, monetise variety of youtube channels. Requires tech to grow viewership base and a strong sales base. The MultiChannelNetwork is a modern day version of the cable network, except that they live entirely online on the internet.

How do they categorise content? At Maker, they have 23 big niche areas under 4 categories
  1. Gaming & Sports (where pewdiepie is)
  2. Lifestyle (fashion, beauty)
  3. Family (kids, pet videos) and
  4. Entertainment (music, movies, comedy) 


“People connect to MissMalini because they are at a one-tweet-access to ...

"(S)he who controls the spice, controls the universe” :- My video with the immensely talented and articulate Malini Agrawal, aka MissMalini, amongst India’s most famous bloggers.
Says she: I created "Miss Malini", the anime/ cartoon version of me, as the voice out of india that represents the youth. We have our Chota Bheem characters, but there is no young, Indian “Oprah” that represents this new generation.
I did not know what a blog was when I was writing the Midday column Malini’s Mumbai. And, in 2011, I quit everything else and started blogging full-time.
With her prolific content generation capability, she holds sway over the entire young digital Indian audience and has tremendous influence, as indeed Bollywood has found…
In this chat I explore how she crafted her personality and influence and what her plans for the future are.
Brilliant and inspirational stuff.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Magic of Newshunt's +75Million Installs- with Vishal Anand

The Magic Of Newshunt :+75Million installs happen when Vernacular Ecosystem+ Mobile First + Operator Billing come alive. .

With +75 Million installs, Newshunt rivals Whatsapp, is bigger than Youtube and up there in the constellation of the greats of the emerging Digital India. Add to that the fact that they are the largest bookseller in india, beating the Kindles etc by a very wide margin. This to my mind is truly the future of India, as 300+ million indians wake up to the smartphone and content consumption, Watch their story  as it grows and grows.

The problem they solved: Going Mobile first by building a vernacular ecosystem :  In a nation with  less than 1% english literacy, they started off with a problem to solve- a lack of a mobile ecosystem for fonts. Content creators have used non unicode/non standard fonts that only work for print. On the consumption side, india is all mobile-many have never used  desktop and 95% of phones won’t support one or more indian languages.

So how do u solve for it.? Can’t wait for the ecosystem, so they built a rendering engine that is cross platform. It renders 12 languages consistently across any OS -android, java, symbian, windows, IOS. They take the content from the publisher, transcode, package it for mobile only- less data usage. The publisher doesn’t have to do anything. The outcome- an all organic installed base of 75MM.

They are the largest vernacular book seller in India. They have practically created the books ecosystem in India, for the vernacular,here are no big 5 publishers - typically it is local publishers - about 15000 of them. How do you find them. More important, how do you stack rank them? They built this from users who wanted this, went to railway station sales counters. etc and did research and got the market built. They have sold more books than the publisher has sold physical+ebooks combined. The users are just lapping it up.

They also did operator billing, thro i-pay, our own product- almost 85% of the transactions happen thro operator billing.

A great story, one worth watching… Virendra and Vishal- look forward to more magic.


India will have an explosion in Instant Mobile Payments- Lizzie Chapman

"When the entire market cap of the indian banking system is the same size as an average european bank, there is an explosion waiting to happen. I am here to be a part of that."

My video with the deeply insightful and the extremely articulate Lizzie where we explore whats happening to the payments space and how that will bring in a revolution/ transform India.

We are lucky to have NPCI, which is focused on tech innovation on payments and has released a unified payments interface, a massive API for the entire banking ecosystem. All you need now to access a bank account is a phone. individuals and companies can plug into the banking network without acquiring infra (e.g. Visa, MasterCard etc). with UID/ Aadhar and other identification platforms, even higher fund transfers will become easier.

Final takeaway : Instant virtual mobile payments will leapfrog every other form of payment in india, accelerating Indias digital, ecommerce and consumption revolution.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Youtube- Insights from Rockstars- Superwoman, Bethany Mota and AllIndiaBakchod

Some insights from Youtube rockstars who have made it big. 
  1. Some insights from Youtube rockstars who have made it big. 
    1. Bethany Mota (8Million subs)
      1. she has 8 million friends ( she calls them friends, not subscribers)
      2. when i meet them in person, it feels like i already know them you really get to know them before 
      3. you already know what your audience wants, you need to continue to take that risk might seem a little crazy, but can go extremely well.
      4. Equipment: my first video did not have professional equipment- a bunch of books was my tripod, my old camcorder was my video, the window was my light source… now i use tripod, lights and better quality camera.
      5. She was cyber bullied which got her into looking at the content and got her engaged
    2. Lillysingh @iisuperwomanii (5 Million Subs)
      1. 2010 was the first video -fell in love with saying what i want , how i wanted to say it. Youtube is like an outlet, a self medicating way. 
      2. 5 years later, 5 million subscribers. Everything has been a super learning process, trial and error. Very rarely a right or wrong answer
      3. She is a prolific content creator- 2 videos a week, v-log every day, Vine, twitter, snapchat, the works...
      4. I try my best innovative- do a live stream every single month - around 14th/15th.  persons birthday, can u send them a video.
      5. Equipment- first start- macbook webcam, cheapest lam i could find (light showed up as 7 different colours on my face)- my channel is more about content, its not the production. Ive never used a mic in any of my videos.
      6. Youtube is the centre of the funnel- other social media is used to funnel views into youtube.Youtube audiences fear change a bit- be careful with what you experiment.
      7. makign videos that get lots of views- a balance of videos I want to make and look at what people are searching for (eg search trending on twitter) 
    3. AllIndiaBakchod- Tanmay and Khamba- (+1 Million subs)
      1. Started doing standup comedy. someone convinced them that tube was a good idea.
      2. TarlaDalal cooking crystalMeth - was their fisrst video, which tanked, one video did well.
      3. 18 months later, they have gone viral-
      4. see the traffic surge after 10 pm.
      5. bid to keep creating and doing something new. feedback immediately from the audience
      6. Indian content creator- we wanted to set a benchmark- the guys who manage us had a productions studio. the key for us was the quality that needs to be as good as film and TV- cast, shoot, etc...
      7. we were at yashraj and did not do a brilliant job- Just because its on the internet does not mean it should be poor quality.
      8. Our last video- we had a drone, with the guys that did weddings.. nobody cares about the shoot, everyone looks 
      9. every post has to blow peoples minds

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Going Digital with AshishPatil, Yashraj Films

When a guy introduces himself as a "Creative Suit. Run excel on a mac”, you know you are onto a treat…Ashish, the Creative and Business head of Yashraj Films, Bollywood's #1 Production house in this video- an action packed, must see!

  1. Yfilms- 2 yrs , 3 films old. talks about his new project- Bankchor, with Vivek Oberoi
  2. Some of the cool brand work they are doing in the digital space with their artistes, example : Ranveer singh with #Dotherex (+3.5M views, brand: Durex), or #mynameisranveerching (+1.5M views, brand : Chings)- where they have gone way beyond just typical photoshoots with their artistes...
  3. On Creating a content factory to produce a lot of content based on consumers creating it Explains with the MTV example of the stencil of M…  "Everyday on the MTV channel, the logo bug would switch to the one designed by our consumer/influencer"
  4. he talks about  the genesis of Kan Khajura Tesan with the Salman Khan , “Ek Tha Tiger” Unilever Wheel promo how digital is penetrating media dark states (leapfrog even TV and print)

Saturday, 7 March 2015

India's changed-All my HBS classmates are now back in India” -Vibha, founder, ReachIvy

  1. Vibha is the Founder and CEO of @ReachIvy-  an ivy leaguer herself with a #Harvard MBA, Carnegie Mellon graduation.
  2. Reach ivy is an admissions consulting firm that helps students reach the top tier schools across the world. Their value proposition? "People have talent to get into schools, but they need guidance on what it takes to get through, because there isn’t a single metric that will ensure that-yes grades are very important, but a lot more needs to go in.We help."
  3. They have scaled from a Nariman-point small boutique, we are now a virtual/ cloud based and digital, setup, today- have students from France, US, Dubai, Bahrain, and all parts of india.
  4. On what’s happening in India:
    1. There is a generational shift in india today- with the advent of tech and telecom, India gives opportunity to youngsters, today, the attitude is that people want to come back to india after their degrees abroad, unlike in the previous generations.
    2. Parents are still pushing students to do Engineering, but the students there is a drive towards liberal arts, humanities, filmmaking etc

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Chirag Kulkarni-The personal brand as a source of Lead Generation

Some of his quotes:
  1. Lots of startups are still marketing in the 19th century. Many businesses aren’t social, and taking advantage of the fact that social is completely free.
  2. i went from 100-38K followers this year. Business is more and more about content , and quality of content. i use hootsuite and buffer. use social.
  3.  at I  write a lot of high quality content and give away a lot of secrets. the more u give value away the more people will get.
  4. focus on following people and interacting with brands- for instance, i follow BCG, Mckinsey. 
  5. "I am my own brand.To be paid the most, you need to drive the most revenue in your company” The more value can be delivered, the more the personal brand grows.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Gaurav Agrawal CTO Healthkart: Succeeding in e-commerce as a vertical play

  1. Healthkart   is one of India’s top 10 ecomm sites, 7.5Lac paying customers. has two businesses:
    1. Healthkart ( ) focuses on nutrition and fitness such as protein bars, vitamins, fitness supplements- the proposition being they provide authentic products coming from sources verified
    2. Healthkartplus ( is a very interesting new app with 1 MM plus downloads, recommended by the govt of india. The concept is to enter any medicine and look up what its used for, substitutes that are cheaper, what its sideffects are etc.. many doctors etc are using this to check medicines.
  2. Competing as a vertical play against the large horizontal ecomm players
    1. Whilst its true that regardless of size, one have to build scale, logistics, website, traffic etc…they believe  have certain advantages as well:
    2. because they are a vertical niche, they can actually do more- e.g. certified reviews from gym trainers - more credible folks. 
    3. A much stronger community -of fitness buffs for instance
    4. Also tend to be more focused on the leanness of the organisation- richness of product, content etc.
  3. Mobile first
    1. healthkartplus is bigger on mobile than on the desktop, whereas Healthkart is 50:50 mobile/desktop
    2. every new feature, how do they bring it to mobile first, not desktop
    3. when we first got our app out, we weren’t the most efficient, and our users were using data on EDGE. Now we aggressively cache data, only send data thats needed- it takes a lot more diligence
  4. Ecommerce in india has been about involving the Tier 2/Tier 3.
    1. this is true for Healthkart as well- with 50% of sales coming from tier3/tier4.
    2. We are very proud that folks in places like the hinterland/ north east today has access to products they could only get in a high-end shop in delhi.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Gabor Veszig, Prezi- Building a globally successful product out of Hungary

Gabor from Prezi, whose promise is to make you a better presenter- they have 50Million users, growing fast. This video is about how Prezi became a really successful product coming out of Hungary.
The big idea behind Prezi
  1. As humans, we are much better with spatial memory than with reading text. Prezi uses this insight to create a tool that enables people to share ideas in a better way- yes, they are in the same space as Keynote and Powerpoint.
  2. they have 50Million users
How they use Agile to do product development
  1. How do we create software thats easy for everyone to use? For instance, what software that allows people to put info in space?usually, these are the 3 d modelling software that are very complex to use. how do we simplify?
  2. They believe in small iteration cycles, develop, push to users, understand behaviour/ get feedback and iterate
  3. "We can have 24 hr deployment cycles-an idea in the morning, deployed by the evening"
  4. Agile means- Creating as many opportunities to change your product as possible
Ecosystem inHungary vs India
  1. Easier to build products for the global market sitting in a smaller country, because there is no big internal market tempting them. From day 1 they had to have global impact- easier in a small market because one has to go global.
  2. When they do things, they never do for just Hungary- the whole of Hungary is 10M people, you have 20M in Mumbai alone, 
  3. Its also easier to hire good talent in smaller companies


Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Age of Marketing Tech (#MarTech)- Benedict @Iprospect

As Digital surpasses other media spends, Martech spends start to shoot up- and that drives performance marketing- my insightful chat with Benedict from Iprospect.

"In the UK digital surpassed TV as the dominant spend 6-7 years ago, and after that, investment into technology that underpins the digital performance became a no brainer- that leap of faith is starting to happen in India"

It does’t make sense to do fixed ad buys anymore. thats the power of programmatic. With programmatic, the cost per lead increases, but the efficacies are way better.

A very clearheaded conversation, this video stands out to me for the clarity with which Benedict defines performance,and how today’s tech is defining performance all with specific examples. A must hear.

We cover a range of things- attribution, performance for revenue vs performance for brand
Programmatic buying and how it changes the entire operating landscape, including how creative development needs to change keeping the dynamic environment in mind.

He also talks about attribution and how analytics and data management are driving it. he defines the “biggest step into unknown for the brand”.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Performance Marketing with Parul Bhargava, Vcommission

 My video with Parul Bhargava née Mehta a passionate Internet marketer from India who started with the affiliate marketing industry and went on to lead vCommission, India’s first International Affiliate Network with Exclusive CPA offers! Established in 2008, their 12,500 affiliates deliver performance to brands.
  1. "You don’t have to pay for visibility until you get ROI- thats Performance marketing. Whats The big deal behind it? It ensures that ROIs are obtainable with Lower LTV customers as well, opening up a whole swathe of segments to target/ works for smaller businesses with lower budgets"
  2. "Our industry right now works on last click attribution- which is why coupon sites are growing, because no matter how convinced you are about what you want to buy, you are still going to look for an offer/discount before you buy it"
  3.   She has studied publisher promotion methods, and focuses on innovative affiliate marketing methods. With a technical background, she now leads the affiliate network with her technical knowledge ensuring pioneering initiatives in tracking technology

Friday, 20 February 2015

Nikhil TripAdvisor

  1. An early adopter of user generated content, TripAdvisor is the most influential travel advisory portal in the world, with +360 Million users across the world. A great example of how truly digital companies think and do things..
  2. One of the most trusted travel brands, the place for the best travel content on the web, one of the top 15 trends that have changed/ shaped travel business (eg cheap airlines, etc) the smart hoteliers caught on first, because it is a fantastic free marketing site- and today, you have to engage with tripadvisor, as travelers dont book without looking.
  3. How Trip advisor is different is that it has all the great content - hotels, photos etc.. on the same page, there are live prices from all the hotel booking sites (Eg etc) moment you click on the price, the partner pays them for the click.
  4. Of their $1B of revenues, 75% came from pay-per-click. Another 13% of come from business listings- the hotels get an opportunity to directly get a lead from their review page- and they pay a flat annual fee. The rest is banner/ display advertising.
  5. Tech plays a big role in the product and service development:
  6. Meta is one of the pivots they did- earlier, u had the logo u could click on to go to the partner site for pricing. Now all pricing is dynamically shown on the website itself.
  7. The next pivot, currently underway, is about changing the clunky mobile experience, through instant booking, where u can complete a transaction from inside the mobile app.The “book” on tripadvisor gets fulfilled by the partner that has won the bid, realtime.
  8. A new feature, called “Just for you”, takes into account what i want and what i have chosen in the past to only show the kind of stuff that I like.
  9. To stimulate ugc reviews, they have done various ideas- for instance , something they did only in India first- Multipoints- where they tie-up with airline partners, reach out to frequently traveling people, incentivised them with air miles and now that program has gone global with massive programs in Brazil.
  10. Their review express product, hotels adopt on their own, Accor, best western already request their customers to leave reviews on trip advisor.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

"An app for Booking restaurant tables"- Dine-out's Sahil

My video with Sahil Jain, co founder of Dineout, a restaurant table booking startup that 30L people use every month to book tables in 1000 restaurants in 6 cities. on startups, being acquired, and growth…

When we started in 2012, everyone said “India mein table kaun book karta hai?” there has been a huge mindset change in the last 2 years- be it taxis, hotels, airlines etc. Dining out is the 2nd most important thing after movies. And the mobile-first approach has exploded for us- started with 5% going onto 40% now, estimated to be 70% by year end.

1000 restaurants, 6 cities. 30K diners monthly ->150K diners. Includes premium restaurants such as Olive bar/ Claridges etc

The key is Consumer convenience- the customer can book a table and save money on deals on the restaurant+ recommendations on places

They have FoS sales team+ online registration for the restaurants

They were acquired by Times internet a year ago at a reported valuation of $10M. Leveraging the TimesInternet b2b clout to acquire restaurants, and b2c to reach out to consumers

Traffic: 40% coming through app, also have a 10 member call center (25%) - typically larger group bookings want human confirmations, 20% thro mobile web, 15% thro' online.


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Titan: Integrating E-commerce into the offline model - AlokedeepSingh

How does an ecomm play work for a company with a dominant physical distribution?  Well its different. 
E-commerce in Titan is not just about servicing India, but also Indians cross border. Since they don’t have the backing of valuation money,they take the business checks and balances very seriously- for example, their returns are about 3% as compared to industry averages of 30-40%. 
Also ,since their brands advertise, their ecomm play off their pull rather than spend own marketing money. They also don’t discount overtly…They also have concepts like “shop on line and pick up instore”- allowing them to leverage their physical presence.
Their largest infra cost is tech, which gets amortised over time- its more economical than setting up a store. They also ship to a limited set of places beyond store presence in upcountry areas. 
In online and offline integration people assume its the front end that needs integration (store front end+ devices). The biggest integration point is inventory- once thats done, the front ends are easy to build. 
They are also experimenting with i-beacon pilots and other online to offline pull models, but many of these are in the wait-and-watch mode.
Aloke Links