Revenue@Social Networking Sites!
Posted by pradsword
Those who listen to FM regularly must have heard about the Big Adda atleast once. Initially I couldnt exactly decipher the name. Thought it was “pick up duh” or something, and spent some moments wondering what exactly was to be picked up and why exactly was this guy mocking the users (duh!!) (was it a laundery service – that someone miraculously thought of hosting a pan-India website on which you could enter the date and time you want them to pick up your laundery or something!!) Soon I read about the ADA’s stake in this ADDA and things became clearer!! Now if an Ambani goes anywhere, it is to make money. So the question is, what exactly could be the revenue model of these social networking websites. Actually one more question , whether AA wanted to become the Indian Rupert Murdoch (who bought myspace) with all this interest into films, ADLABS and the sundry media, popped up, but thats another topic altogether.
Why only radio, the ADDA has been broadcasting itself on TV as well. I also came across a hoarding flashing the hi-fies – the logo of this site. All of this was a first for me. I had seen online ads on various social networking sites, but never come across any mainstream ads on these sites. I’d heard a lot about myspace ads and event sponsorships, but those never interested me, they never happened in India. A search on wikipedia lead me to this long list of social networking sites, still, which does not include some desi sites like Yaari, Funpiper , Desimartini , rediff iland etc. Most of the sites come with common functionalities: Home Page, Scraps, Communities, Video/Audio upload and sharing etc.. and many with mobile phone-functionality as well. Some have blog combined with all this. So.. all in all almost same features..
When I registered on Orkut, it was through an invite I received from a friend. That felt kind of exclusive etc and hence initially it was kinda special thing to be on Orkut. Latest I know is that anyone can register on Orkut, like any other social site. Most of us (assuming) are here with intention of re-connecting with long lost friends, and hence give out correct information. So our personal pages on all such sites will reveal a LOT about ourselves. Though this is the case, I havent seen any relevant ad popping up anywhere while I am checking my Orkut account. Though one thing is for sure, Google has now a large database of valid email ids from the world over. I’ve seen various ads pertinent to the kind of emails that I send/ some orkut communities that I belong to on the RHS of my inbox when I log into the gmail. Though it is unlikely that Google can display stationery ads in inboxes of other mail sites…
There was a spate of discussions with friends, long time back, during which we agreed on cone thing. That the subscription based model will not work currently unless its a niche-networking , something like online dating service or matrimonial sites like Shaadi.com, business networking sites etc where people have a specific purpose in mind.
What Google is planning is probably anyone’s guess. Internet advertizing, yes, but its my guess that they want users to get linked to the rest of their offerings – gmail, blogspot, youtube,picassa etc as a basket of offerings. To offer all-in one solution. Probably by the time there is googleisation everywhere, Google might have tremendous information about all its users, which is when they’ll come out with premium products and charge them.
Though coming back to the big adda, the prez of Reliance Entertainment, Rajesh Sawhney has said that they are planning to break even in next 3 years. Their revenue model is obvious on the face of it: Internet Advertizing. the fact that more than 50% of Indians are below 25 and are getting hooked to internet like anything shall assure that they have more than enough registrations, broadband’s bigtime advent promises future for user generated content – podcasts, videos , photos etc and all of this to be funded by relevant ads. At this point, it sounds a plausible idea, but it will be very difficult to shift current users from other site to Big Adda. Thats very difficult given the nature of this service and also the fact that one site is no different than another. So Big Adda’s users will have to be new users primarily. The popularity of these sites increases the most by the word of mouth (since friends are registered on site X, they ask you to) . Sites like Orkut have already established themselves and it seems a bit difficult to break into their popularity and become the next big fad. So 3 years seems like an ambitious target to break even.. though given the fact that its funded by ADA, I’m sure no stone will be left unturned to ensure the limelight that Big Adda needs!!