Yahoo! India clicks into Marissa’s turnaround plan #Press #Media #HBL

Gurmit Singh, who took over as the Managing Director of Yahoo! India earlier this year, has a tough job in hand. At a time when rivals such as Google and Facebook are catching the imagination of Internet users, Gurmit Singh has to ensure that Yahoo!, which was once the darling of netizens, stays relevant.

The stakes are high as India’s Internet user base, currently at about 150 million, is growing rapidly and Yahoo! has a lot of catching up to do.

Three key things

Thankfully for Gurmit Singh, Yahoo!’s global CEO Marissa Mayer has undertaken a transformational path that’s focussed on three things — people, products and revenue. “We would like to say the journey is like a marathon – it’s not something which you run and catch up. It needs to be divided into smaller parts, let’s say sprints. So, it’s a marathon with small sprints,” he.

The first sprint which Yahoo! wanted to win was to recruit the best people. A number of changes was done internally to have a start-up culture mixed with fun.

“The plan has paid off – today, the number of applicants to Yahoo! has gone up multi-fold. The attrition rate is at all-time low. Also, 10 per cent of Yahoo! employees, globally, have come back. That gives you a sense of confidence that you are in the right direction,” says Gurmit Singh.

Real challenge

But the real challenge for Yahoo! has been to get the right product mix. While 10-15 years ago it reigned the Internet world with products such as Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger, the advent of players such as Google and WhatsApp has taken the sheen away. The company is now trying to reinvent itself to bring products that catch users’ attention. Some launches such as the Yahoo! Weather App and Yahoo! News Digest have got some traction.

For example, in India, there are 8.1 million monthly unique users on Yahoo! Cricket for mobile and is growing at 52 per cent annually. The Yahoo! Homepage is a trusted partner to about 28 million monthly users in India with close to three million people visiting the homepage daily for news, searching, watching video, emailing and checking weather.

The company has also launched Yahoo! Screen, which is a video content site, in a bid to take on the likes of YouTube. Yahoo! may also look at the possibility of producing its own video content like serials or movies in India.

“Yahoo! is a technology company, which is interested in making daily habits of users interesting, entertaining and inspiring. That is where all the energy is around. All the new products which are developed, whether its personalised experience, all are around daily habits,” says Gurmit Singh.

More tie-ups

To reach its products to a larger base, Yahoo! is tying up with content partners and telecom companies.

For example, it has tie-ups with service providers such as Tata DoCoMo, MTS and Tikona to offer co-branded homepage. Mobile is a huge focus area for the company with nearly 50 per cent of the Yahoo! India users on the mobile platforms.

In terms of new users, Yahoo!’s mobile user base is growing 25 per cent annually. The new apps we are launching start on mobile devices and go to other screens. Yahoo! Cricket is a very good example,” says Gurmit Singh.

So how is this all playing out in terms of revenue? Yahoo!’s main source of revenue is from digital advertising, a space dominated by Google. While Gurmit Singh would not share India revenues, he says the shift in advertisers’ attitude in favour of Yahoo! is beginning to happen.

“What we do is to organise vertical-wise events. We do our own research and we have an insight’s team which does independent research on those verticals. We share with them (advertisers) the research findings and tell them these are the things we are doing globally and you could also get inspired from,” he says.

Analysts reckon that Yahoo! has indeed re-invented itself on various levels but more needs to be done. “The recent launch of their mobile applications really wasn’t impressive. The functionality was not up to the mark and the design lacked user engagement, which I believe now Yahoo! has addressed.

Focus on integration

“It’s good to see Yahoo! focussing on integration. Their recent acquisition of FlickR and now the video streaming service RayV Inc, shows that it’s important for them to integrate such services under one umbrella and provide to their users a dynamic experience,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst at Greyhound Research.

The strategy seems to be paying off because the first quarter this year was globally the best quarter for Yahoo! after 2010. Gurmit Singh would be hoping that Indian operations add to that performance over the next one year.

“Yahoo! needs to re-invent themselves to step up their growth in India. Once the acquisition cycle is done with, they need to up their game by becoming more market facing and broaden their Enterprise offerings,” says Gogia.

Source: Hindu Business Line

Media Mentions

The Social CIO #Press #Media

Enterprise technology decision makers are increasingly leveraging social network and technologies to foster growth in their organisations.

Social technologies are playing a major role in fostering growth among organisations and enterprise technology decision makers are leveraging social networks in numerous innovative ways. There are some key verticals like BFSI, telecom, retail and hospitality which is using social technologies to reach out to their customers. Interacting with the customers on a regular basis allows enterprises to know their requirements and this helps in coming up with offers or products that are liked by the customers.

According to Atul Nigam, CIO, Micromax India, “Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkden allows us to reach our customers and get to know what are their requirements. CIOs can play a major role in providing apt business analytics to identify a specific trend and that helps in coming up with offers/promotions which customers can relate to. Our company has seen tremendous growth in the last five to six years and for us to sustain this growth rate, we need to know our customers better and social technologies plays an integral role in identifying this.”

Enterprise technology decision makers are leveraging social technologies to provide analytical insights about consumers. This in turn is helping enterprises to be more customer-friendly and focussed in their approach.

According to Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research, IT organizations are struggling to deal with the invasion of multiple consumer-driven social technologies inside corporate firewalls. Employees continue to use these tools — with or without IT’s knowledge and approval — to help them improve their performance and do their work more efficiently. Employee adoption is catalysing many companies in Asia Pacific to proactively use (or at least plan to use) social tools as part of their IT setup, giving users the choice to adopt new tools to improve productivity and hence improve employee satisfaction.

CIOs across verticals agree that social analytics can play a key role in enhancing customer experience.

According to KK Chaudhary, CIO, Lanco Infratech, “I vouch for social analytics and I have witnessed many of my peers helping out their marketing team in getting to know different aspects of customer behaviour. Although, we are into power and do not need to interact with our customers via social medium, but I feel there are many verticals where one needs to interact directly to the customers and social technologies helps a lot of achieving this feat. At Lanco, we use internal social tool which helps in connecting with the employees and also makes them updated with the new developments in the organisation.”

Source: CIO & Leader

Media Mentions

Time For Social Media Users To Grow #Press #Media #LightReading

Is social media a boon or a bane? This is one of the most challenging questions that many of us have faced in recent times. The answer may be different to each of us, based on our own perspectives and usage behaviors.

While the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have changed the way we communicate and has also pushed the data growth for telcos, it has also revealed a lot about individuals’ personalities and preferences, thus providing companies the opportunity to shape their marketing strategies, though not without risking users’ privacy.

For marketers, social media has proved to be an effective tool to engage with their target customers, with brand managers leveraging it for promoting their products and services and getting direct feedback as well. Many organizations and internet companies like Google are aggressively utilizing tools like business analytics and business intelligence to understand the interest of consumers for placing intelligent ads based on users’ interest areas.

As a flip-side to marketers, social media engines could also spawn negative publicity, if products are flawed or customer services are not up to the mark or the company gives a controversial statement.

The technology behind social media has become so big that one can neither ignore it nor afford to completely rely on it. Back in 2008, US president Barack Obama’s successful political campaign on social media was touted as a strong example of the impact these collaboration tools could have.

In India, a leading politician had to apologize post his disturbing statements on country’s state of poverty, largely because of the public outrage on Twitter and Facebook. Such is the growing power of this new-age media.

In India, the telecom technologies like 3G and 4G are further fuelling the growth of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. More and more people are glued to social media to interact and communicate with each other on the move, through their mobile phones.  Moreover, social media is considered to be a major driver of data growth in the country.

While tools like Twitter are widely used as a medium to follow celebrities, favorite brands, companies and talk about them in quick mode, Facebook is considered to be more personal is being majorly utilized to showcase personal achievements, photographs, thoughts and personal sentiments. On the other side, professional networking tools like LinkedIn are used to seek professional guidance, look for networking within the particular group and to explore job and career opportunities.

Revealing More Than What You Can See

In one of my recent interactions with a top executive of a leading company, I was told that many companies have started analyzing social media behavior of their employees while doing appraisals. It has helped HR managers and senior leaders to identify your behavior, attitude and overall personality that may help them to access leadership and productivity skills.

A recent study from Media Effects Research Laboratory reveals how users’ behaviors and profiles on various social media channels can give clue to feelings of users’ self-esteem and self-determination. That’s scary, isn’t it? It is like without your knowledge, someone guessing about your wealth and assets.

Also, marketers are cleverly capturing users’ day-to-day data to analyze customers’ preferences without even letting them know.

While a lot of security promises are being made by every social networking site, as a consumer you cannot guarantee that the privacy won’t be compromised. In some cases, even employees unintentionally share sensitive information through these channels that can be leveraged by competitors or cyber criminals.

“It’s a double edged sword. It’s very easy to cross the line between good and bad. While social media can be a great tool if used in a rational way, it may result into unwarranted troubles, if you fail to understand the best way it should be used,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, ‎Founder & Group CEO, Greyhound Knowledge Group.

In future, we can expect social media playing a vital role in tracking brands’ history of brand positioning, customers’ reactions on that and marketers using paid channels on social media for boosting their image. Some brands may explore the possibility of blocking the social media entirely due to excessive negative publicity. For consumers, it would be critical to understand the benefits and disadvantages of sharing something instantly on social media.

Source: LightReading

Media Mentions

Time For Social Media Users To Grow #Press #Media #LightReading

Is social media a boon or a bane? This is one of the most challenging questions that many of us have faced in recent times. The answer may be different to each of us, based on our own perspectives and usage behaviors.

While the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have changed the way we communicate and has also pushed the data growth for telcos, it has also revealed a lot about individuals’ personalities and preferences, thus providing companies the opportunity to shape their marketing strategies, though not without risking users’ privacy.

For marketers, social media has proved to be an effective tool to engage with their target customers, with brand managers leveraging it for promoting their products and services and getting direct feedback as well. Many organizations and internet companies like Google are aggressively utilizing tools like business analytics and business intelligence to understand the interest of consumers for placing intelligent ads based on users’ interest areas.

As a flip-side to marketers, social media engines could also spawn negative publicity, if products are flawed or customer services are not up to the mark or the company gives a controversial statement.

The technology behind social media has become so big that one can neither ignore it nor afford to completely rely on it. Back in 2008, US president Barack Obama’s successful political campaign on social media was touted as a strong example of the impact these collaboration tools could have.

In India, a leading politician had to apologize post his disturbing statements on country’s state of poverty, largely because of the public outrage on Twitter and Facebook. Such is the growing power of this new-age media.

In India, the telecom technologies like 3G and 4G are further fuelling the growth of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. More and more people are glued to social media to interact and communicate with each other on the move, through their mobile phones.  Moreover, social media is considered to be a major driver of data growth in the country.

While tools like Twitter are widely used as a medium to follow celebrities, favorite brands, companies and talk about them in quick mode, Facebook is considered to be more personal is being majorly utilized to showcase personal achievements, photographs, thoughts and personal sentiments. On the other side, professional networking tools like LinkedIn are used to seek professional guidance, look for networking within the particular group and to explore job and career opportunities.

Revealing More Than What You Can See

In one of my recent interactions with a top executive of a leading company, I was told that many companies have started analyzing social media behavior of their employees while doing appraisals. It has helped HR managers and senior leaders to identify your behavior, attitude and overall personality that may help them to access leadership and productivity skills.

A recent study from Media Effects Research Laboratory reveals how users’ behaviors and profiles on various social media channels can give clue to feelings of users’ self-esteem and self-determination. That’s scary, isn’t it? It is like without your knowledge, someone guessing about your wealth and assets.

Also, marketers are cleverly capturing users’ day-to-day data to analyze customers’ preferences without even letting them know.  

While a lot of security promises are being made by every social networking site, as a consumer you cannot guarantee that the privacy won’t be compromised. In some cases, even employees unintentionally share sensitive information through these channels that can be leveraged by competitors or cyber criminals.

“It’s a double edged sword. It’s very easy to cross the line between good and bad. While social media can be a great tool if used in a rational way, it may result into unwarranted troubles, if you fail to understand the best way it should be used,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, ‎Founder & Group CEO, Greyhound Knowledge Group.

In future, we can expect social media playing a vital role in tracking brands’ history of brand positioning, customers’ reactions on that and marketers using paid channels on social media for boosting their image. Some brands may explore the possibility of blocking the social media entirely due to excessive negative publicity. For consumers, it would be critical to understand the benefits and disadvantages of sharing something instantly on social media.

Source: LightReading

Media Mentions

Time For Social Media Users To Grow #Press #Media #LightReading

Is social media a boon or a bane? This is one of the most challenging questions that many of us have faced in recent times. The answer may be different to each of us, based on our own perspectives and usage behaviors.

While the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have changed the way we communicate and has also pushed the data growth for telcos, it has also revealed a lot about individuals’ personalities and preferences, thus providing companies the opportunity to shape their marketing strategies, though not without risking users’ privacy.

For marketers, social media has proved to be an effective tool to engage with their target customers, with brand managers leveraging it for promoting their products and services and getting direct feedback as well. Many organizations and internet companies like Google are aggressively utilizing tools like business analytics and business intelligence to understand the interest of consumers for placing intelligent ads based on users’ interest areas.

As a flip-side to marketers, social media engines could also spawn negative publicity, if products are flawed or customer services are not up to the mark or the company gives a controversial statement.

The technology behind social media has become so big that one can neither ignore it nor afford to completely rely on it. Back in 2008, US president Barack Obama’s successful political campaign on social media was touted as a strong example of the impact these collaboration tools could have.

In India, a leading politician had to apologize post his disturbing statements on country’s state of poverty, largely because of the public outrage on Twitter and Facebook. Such is the growing power of this new-age media.

In India, the telecom technologies like 3G and 4G are further fuelling the growth of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. More and more people are glued to social media to interact and communicate with each other on the move, through their mobile phones.  Moreover, social media is considered to be a major driver of data growth in the country.

While tools like Twitter are widely used as a medium to follow celebrities, favorite brands, companies and talk about them in quick mode, Facebook is considered to be more personal is being majorly utilized to showcase personal achievements, photographs, thoughts and personal sentiments. On the other side, professional networking tools like LinkedIn are used to seek professional guidance, look for networking within the particular group and to explore job and career opportunities.

Revealing More Than What You Can See

In one of my recent interactions with a top executive of a leading company, I was told that many companies have started analyzing social media behavior of their employees while doing appraisals. It has helped HR managers and senior leaders to identify your behavior, attitude and overall personality that may help them to access leadership and productivity skills.

A recent study from Media Effects Research Laboratory reveals how users’ behaviors and profiles on various social media channels can give clue to feelings of users’ self-esteem and self-determination. That’s scary, isn’t it? It is like without your knowledge, someone guessing about your wealth and assets.

Also, marketers are cleverly capturing users’ day-to-day data to analyze customers’ preferences without even letting them know.

While a lot of security promises are being made by every social networking site, as a consumer you cannot guarantee that the privacy won’t be compromised. In some cases, even employees unintentionally share sensitive information through these channels that can be leveraged by competitors or cyber criminals.

“It’s a double edged sword. It’s very easy to cross the line between good and bad. While social media can be a great tool if used in a rational way, it may result into unwarranted troubles, if you fail to understand the best way it should be used,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, ‎Founder & Group CEO, Greyhound Knowledge Group.

In future, we can expect social media playing a vital role in tracking brands’ history of brand positioning, customers’ reactions on that and marketers using paid channels on social media for boosting their image. Some brands may explore the possibility of blocking the social media entirely due to excessive negative publicity. For consumers, it would be critical to understand the benefits and disadvantages of sharing something instantly on social media.

Source: LightReading

Media Mentions

How messaging apps are beefing up their user base #Press #Media #BusinessToday

Jun Masuda of Line Corp with some of its sticker characters

Jun Masuda of Line Corp with some of its sticker characters
Smileys were always popular, but they never got the cult status that stickers – the new, larger emoticons – have gained. The fad, started by the Line messaging app in Japan, is now big enough to prompt TV shows featuring sticker characters in the country, and local versions of stickers in other countries. But the biggest indication that the stickers from Japan had become a global phenomenon came when Facebook adopted them, first on mobile and then on web chat.

Characters such as Cony, a cartoon rabbit, and his bear friend Brown, are more than conversation fillers when chat junkies are at a loss for words – they are good business. Line Corporation, which owns the Line messaging app, made $27 million in the second quarter of 2013 from these expressive chat icons – about 27 per cent of its $101 million revenue for the period. The app’s revenue grew 66.9 per cent over the first quarter, powered by impressive growth in traditional markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. Growth in numbers – crucial to the monetisation of these apps – will depend on growth in new markets, such as India.

Line made a dramatic Indian debut in July, raking up five million active users in three weeks. Global Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Jun Masuda says its success marks a transition from open social networking services to closed ones. “People are tired of social networks,” he says. “You don’t talk to people you don’t know, so why should you contact them on social networks? Line is where you talk to people who are close to you. This format does not tire people.”

The closed model is Line’s USP, and in Japan it is popular among couples. This also explains why people are willing to buy stickers within the app. After all, how many would do that to impress a boss? Line users send 7 billion messages a day, including a billion stickers. They also play games within the app, buying virtual items when stuck at a hurdle. These in-game purchases account for 53 per cent of revenues this quarter. Line plans to launch video calling this fall, besides Line Music and Line Mall, in Japan. It claims a user base of 230 million.

WeChat and its Chinese version,Weixin, claim over 300 million, which, according to the GlobalWebIndex, makes WeChat the fifth most used app in the world, with presence on 27 per cent of all smartphones. This is also why WeChat, owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, can afford to spend big on customer acquisition outside its base in China.

WeChat is not forthcoming on revenues, but Tencent’s results for the first half of 2013, announced in mid-August, show that about 76 per cent of its $4.5 billion revenues comes from value-added services. WeChat makes money through apps on the platform as well, as by letting brands create pages to reach out to their customers. In an e-mail interaction from Hong Kong, spokesperson Katie Lee was noncommittal about whether a similar model is possible in India. “The success of WeChat really boils down to social experience and value we bring to users,” she says. “We are working on the business model for international markets.”

Monetising Tricks
Brand pages are proving to be the best way to monetise these apps, especially in countries such as India, where in-app purchases are yet to gather steam. “Companies want to use our huge user base for promotions,” says Masuda.”Stickers from companies can be free for users, but companies will have to pay Line for putting it online.” He cites the examples of Hollywood studios, which create sticker sets to promote movies such as Iron Man 3 and Monster University. In India, Sony was among the first to open an account on Line.

BlackBerry, too, has jumped on to the bandwagon. It is all set to take its popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to the Android and iOS operating systems, and is testing its BBM Channels service, which will allow brands and content providers to maintain a page to post messages and video for their audiences. “They can see who is visiting the page and engage with them,” says Annie Mathew, Director, Business Development and Alliances, BlackBerry India. “This also lets them create targeted and location-based advertising.” BBM has 61 million users globally, and traffic exceeds 10 billion messages a day.

The Indian market has its own demands. So while Line rolls out Indian stickers and support for local languages, WeChat’s money is on emoticons of Indian celebrities such as Parineeti Chopra and Varun Dhawan, as well as a tie-ups with Bollywood production houses.

With a Dabangg Salman Khan and a cigarette-flipping Rajinikanth on its sticker list, BhartiSoftBank’s Hike seems to have the home advantage. “We wanted to find a solution for fragmentation, so that people would not have to use multiple apps,” says Kavin Bharti Mittal, Head of Product and Strategy at BhartiSoftBank (BSB), a joint venture between the Bharti Group and Internet company SoftBank. “That is why we started with a Hike-to-SMS feature, which is a very powerful feature in India. This is now about 30 per cent of the one billion messages we do a month.” Hike users can message even offline contacts. Mittal says this is needed, as 70 per cent of Hike users are based in India, where there is a “tendency to switch off data services often”.

Launch Pad

Though Hike is not yet monetised, Mittal sees it as a large distribution platform on which he can promote the other BSB verticals, such as gaming and coupons. “It is important for a company like ours not to focus on revenue too early. You need to have the right product and business strategy first. Our focus is on getting to 10 million first.”

To achieve this, almost all messaging app companies have tied up with mobile manufacturers to preload their apps on new devices. Mark Ranson, a South Korea-based associate analyst on research firm Ovum’s consumer team, says the possibilities are almost endless once the service has scaled. He says: “They can launch anything, depending on the market. Content services could be very popular. We are also coming to a stage where people are willing to pay even for messaging.”

However, he concedes that in India, scaling up may take longer as far as revenue is concerned. “In Japan, users are willing to pay a lot for digital content. People will get more accustomed in time. But companies such as Line Corp and Tencent are not concerned with monetisation in the short term – they just want to become the largest player.”

The Giants
No discussion of scale can ignore WhatsApp, which has over 300 million users globally and a monthly average user (MAU) base of over 200 million. WhatsApp reportedly has over 20 million users in India, although in an email response to Business Today, business development head Neeraj Arora said only that the “company was seeing tremendous growth in India”. WhatsApp has a unique monetisation model – users pay $0.99 after a year of free use. Until July, the company charged iOS users this amount upfront. “With around 30 per cent of WhatsApp users being on iOS, this meant a monetisation of at least $100 million at any time,” explains Sanchit Vir Gogia, Chief Analyst and Group CEO of New Delhi-based Greyhound Research.

The other big player is Facebook, with over 70 million users in India, a large chunk of them on mobile. It has a standalone messaging app, though Country Growth Manager Kevin D’Souza says messaging is deeply integrated and a part of the Facebook experience.

Facebook does not have a specific monetisation strategy for messaging. However, it is investing in ensuring that the message is delivered across devices and networks. “A large number of people is on feature phones, and that is a focus area for us,” says D’Souza.

But with WeChat and Line closing in on MAUs, leaders such as WhatsApp may have to think up new ideas to stay in the game. “WhatsApp is at a pretty cool point in its life cycle,” says Ovum’s Ranson. “But for the best chance to maintain their strong position, they should look at other revenue streams.”

He says there will be consolidation in India, as there was in South Korea, where KakaoTalk emerged as the leader after many others came and went. “Globally, there is going to be some fragmentation,” says Mittal of BSB. “India will have at the most three players in the long run.”

Source: Business Today

Media Mentions