At the Digital Marketing Round Table organized by the IAMAI and Pinstorm on Wednesday in Delhi, Hitesh Oberoi, COO of Info Edge spoke about how the companys advertising spends shifted online, and how they make marketing decisions. We were rather surprised when Oberoi mentioned the value of some of the marketing deals that they had inked – most interestingly, the one with Rediff which started them off on spending on marketing online.
 

Info Edge Marketing Split

 
2005-06: A Rs. 5 Crore Marketing Deal With Rediff

Oberoi said that in 2005-06, they began spending almost half their marketing budget online.  At that time, one of their competitors – JobsAhead, which was later acquired by Monster, had a head start in launching database access services. Print and TV had never really helped Info Edge get too many resumes, so they had to get aggressive on resume acquisition.

“We did a Rs. 5 crore annual deal with Rediff, which took a long time to negotiate. We got around Rs. 2-2.20 per click – that works out to around 2.5 crore clicks a year. That was a lot more than the total Internet population in India at that time. When we did the deal with Rediff, suddenly our resumes went through the roof. The conversion rates were around 4%-5% of all traffic. It fundamentally changed the way we looked at advertising. Since then it has been at around 50% for the last three years, and it’s only changed this year.”

No To Print, Yes To TV; Creative Matters

 
“We stopped advertising in print a long time ago – in display. It’s just too expensive. Radio has never worked for us – it’s too expensive, but with no great branding benefits. For brand building we prefer TV. When you advertise on TV, it gives you a lot of credibility. It works for employees (and their parents), customers and investors. Offline makes sense when you have big spends. Now we don’t go to TV if we can’t do a Rs. 3 crore burst. 

Some of our best deals have been offline. We ran crawlers on Euro 2000 for a month, and paid Rs. 8 lakhs – 12-14 crawlers per match. We were one of the main advertisers for the 2004 Olympics, for Rs. 3.5 lakhs. We got those deals because publishers were desperate. These deals have become very expensive now, and even we’ve burnt our fingers.

You need to have clarity on whether you want to build a brand or acquire a database. Quality of creative makes a huge difference – we didn’t spend too much on Hari Sadu, but it worked brilliantly. At the same time, we did a new creative for JeevanSathi this year, and spent Rs. 2.5-Rs.3 crores on, and it bombed. We withdrew it instantly because we knew it wasn’t working. The reason we were able to do that is because we track metrics extensively – as much as we can. We’ve noticed that if we advertise when the competition is not, our resumes and conversions go up even through we may be spending less.

Metrics & Online Matters

“The key thing is to define what is performance – whether views, clicks, unique visitors, searches, leads, registrations, sales, time spend/bounce rates (relevance) or some other quality metric. Over time, we’ve evolved our metrics. Online, we can change our creative every day, many times a day. Online is great for lead generation, inquirires, online transactions, selling. The effect of TV lasts much longer than online. If you turn off the tap on Google, the traffic goes to zero. Internet is still not a local medium – can’t limit to one state, and we still need to do vernacular, TV etc. We still end up doing a lot of offline.

Earlier we looked at a standard – Rs. 100 or Rs. 50/resume. Then we defined a quality score for each resume, and defined performance metrics for each type – which keywords got us what kind of resumes. So we say we’ll pay Rs. 10 for some resumes, and much much more for a high quality resume. We also check that if the quality scores of resumes in a period go up, then by how much. This helps us make the right calls. We’ve got 84 MIS (Marketing Information Systems) for Jeevansathi.”

Pay Per Performance vs Traditional In A Recession

Oberoi said that their business in Q3 and Q4 of this fiscal year has been hit. “Risk Awareness is high, so you may want to push sales right now, instead of building a brand. You may see companies moving spends to onlne – because they don’t want to take risks. The Internet gives you the ability to turn off the tap.

Disclosure: I own a small number of shares of Info Edge India.

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