rajshri-tamil-bengali-marathi-teluguIs there really a case for Rajshri.com to launch separate sites for Bengali, Tamil, Telugu & Marathi? When I first read about plans to launch of Tamil vertical, I wasn’t very skeptical. Tamil cinema is well known for its massive fan base, eclipsing Bollywood when it comes to passion. This would be an attempt to reach out to the “long tail” of Tamil Cinema viewers. But Rajshri.com has now launched four verticals – for Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. Corresponding channels at YouTube have also been launched. What’s more, Rajshri Media MD Rajjat Barjatya told MediaNama that they have plans for launching 8 more language properties – four each in the next two months.“It’s like having multiple channels,” Barjatya said.

But does the viewership justify having multiple channels? Is it a good idea to split pageviews across segmented portals? Barjatya explained the move to MediaNama:

Users Prefer Separate Portals: “What we realized was that we are getting truckloads of content, in multiple languages, and it’s cluttering rajshri.com. We found pecuiliar behavior – users going to a Tamil channel would just go straight there. There wasn’t much movement between separate channels. From an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective it’s better to have separate portals for separate languages.”

Marketing & Tie-ups: “From a marketing and branding perspective. I can now promote local Tamil movies at RajshriTamil.com. The entire site is in Tamil. I want them to get the feeling that this is a local Tamil website. For tie-ups with local films and TV channels etc, for which I could get a logo in a Tamil movie, or a local Tamil TV station for promotion. We spend zero on marketing. We started using YouTube and have attracted over 25000 visitors in May 2009 from YouTube to Rajshri.com.”

Why Split Traffic? Impact on Revenues: “The cost of promoting each vertical would be substantially higher, and why split traffic at a time when others are looking to consolidate pageviews. Barjatya responds: “I know that my Alexa rating will suffer to a large extent. In terms of NRIs, we’re gettting more ads than we can serve, but in India, our traffic is very small. I’m not worried about splitting my traffic. I can focus on each segment, and, for example, promote Rajshri.com in Andhra Pradesh, and tap local advertisers. I have a representative there, for local acquisitions.”

Change In Advertising Approach: “Currently, we’re operating entirely on a performance based model for overlay and banner advertising – based on clicks, not on impressions. For video ads, we charge on an impression basis. Earlier we used to operate almost on an ad-network basis, on a CPM basis. Today it is 90+% direct clients and agencies. Today, it’s worth it to do a CPC. I’m getting 3-8% CTR for video ads, 1-2.5% CTR for overlays, 0.2-0.8% for banner ads. We’ve recently introduced a new ad unit, called a semi transparent. It’s a 300×250 semi transparent on your video. It’s an intrusive ad unit. We’ve introduced compulsory registration.”

Financial Performance: “We are nipping at break even. Our revenues are what they were July-Aug-Sept last year. We went down after that, but recovered…reduced costs, and scaled revenues.”

Rajshri Media is also planning to launchour efforts are around creating original Caller Ring Back Tines (CRBT). “We’re rolling out end of June,” Barjatya said.

Our take: We don’t quite like the idea of launching 12 language portals in a matter of 3 months: too much too quickly. We think it would have been a better idea to launch them one by one, and focus on building them one at a time – in terms of relationships with local channels, film makers, and local advertisers. Lessons learned with the first implementation would help in building the next.