Web18, the Internet company from Network18, has begun moving some of its properties to the domain In.com - starting with its entertainment portal Buzz18 and e-commerce portal StoreGuru. Buzz18 is now hosted at buzz18.in.com, while StoreGuru has been moved to the domain http://shop.in.com/ and rebranded. Apart from these, In.com has also integrated Live TV, with mostly Network18 channels, and a podcast section.
Web18s financials indicate a considerable increase in the companys spends over the last two quarters – with operating expenses of Rs. 18.5 Crores in the last quarter (operating loss of Rs. 5.59 crores), and Rs. 31.5 crores (operating loss of Rs. 13.5 crores) in the quarter before that; we believe much of this expenditure has been on In.com, which is Web18′s biggest bet yet.
Over the past month or so, we’ve noticed several instances of Adwords spends, TV advertisements and tie-ups with Network18 properties like Singh is Kinng and Bigg Boss, and more so, the company trying get users from across its channels to sign up for in.com; they’ve splashed advertisements asking users to sign up for In.com at MoneyControl, IBNLive, CricketNext and now Josh18.
So is the company getting desperate to make a success of In.com? Rishi Khiani, COO of Web18 disagrees, saying that it isn’t desperation, but means of acquiring users – “We were set aggressive targets by our management, and the entire process was in order to meet those targets, which we’ve now beaten.”
The integration of group sites into In.com will consolidate traffic, and make it possible for Web18 to sell a high traffic for the domain; it is not uncommon for sites to integrated their domains in order to showcase a higher traffic to advertisers. On the traffic consolidation theory, Varun Singh, CTO of Web18 concurs, saying that “We’ll be taking lots more steps towards consolidation. It’s a process we’ve started. We’ve already made it to the India top 20, according to Comscore and Alexa, and this is an effort to consolidate all the traffic rankings.”
Also, juxtapose this move of consolidating properties into a horizonal, with Reliance’s strategy of developing separate portals. I wonder how Zapak and BigFlix are doing in terms of revenues…and whether, some day, we’ll see all the BIG portals being consolidated into one, in order to showcase more traffic…
Khiani and Singh declined to discuss in detail the performance on In.com, so I guess we’ll have to wait for the Web18 Q2 results, due in a week or so, for more details. Meanwhile, it appears that CricketNext has been redesigned yet again. I think it’s the 55th 2nd redesign this year.
Disclosure: I own an inconsequential number of shares of Network18