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Part 2: Maya Hari On Conde Nast India’s Approach To Digital Sales

When magazines go digital, apart from enabling immediacy of content (discussed here), another important factor comes into play – how does the approach to sales change? Is online inventory sold bundled with offline, or sold separately? Also, given that it is niche content, and is unlikely to reach the scale of a Rediff or Indiatimes, which model do you adopt – CPC, CPM, or spot based sponsorship. In part two of our two part interview with Maya Hari, Head of Condé Nast India Digital (Internet & Mobile), we discussed their approach to sales online.

Will online sales for Conde Nast India will be separate from offline sales?

It’s still an evolving model. We do have a dedicated sales team, but also our advertiser relationships lie in the luxury space on the print side. So there is an integrated model as well. We’ve decided to go the hybrid route, but exactly how it will pan out, and whether it is something that… I think we will evaluate it at the end of six months or a year.

There are two independent media properties – print and online, and these are fundamentally two different skill sets. It’s a question of attempting and seeing whether existing relationships can be leveraged using a hybrid model; here we have a great collaboration between the print and digital on editorial, marketing or sales.

What’s the model that you’re adopting for sales – CPM, CPC, Spot based sponsorship?

We’re starting with spot based sponsorship. I envision this to be the case for at least six months, if not longer, given that we are a niche platform. We currently give 100% share of voice for an ad-banner slot for the period of a week. That might change after six months. In China, we do this on a per-day basis, which presumably, could be looked at, at a later stage. There are others in India who also work on a time-slot basis.

How has the response been from the agencies been, because spot-based is not something they’re used to?

Yeah, it is actually quite interesting, because it’s fundamentally different…there are a few luxury properties online, and because of that, there have been few luxury advertisers online. So the agencies have not the opportunity to deal with too many of these. Also, it is a fundamental shift in the sales model, because they’re so used to thinking CPC, CPM, what is the traffic etc, that this is a very different ball game. Really, what we’re selling is access to an extremely premium audience, rather than the numbers, in terms of wide audience – Pageviews, Unique users. Going mass is not the selling point for us.

So would you look at direct sales, or go down the agency route?

It will end up being a combination of the two. We have the direct sales model, which we lead with because we have relationships with advertisers. But a lot of times, the fulfillment happens through the agencies, so they are never excluded from the picture. It’s just a question of whether the conversation has been led by meeting the client, or it has been a pull generated by the agency. We believe that the space that we are in, because there is no bouquet of portfolio of premium media portals. If we start with Vogue, it’s place where you are getting a predominantly evolved women audience. There are a certain set of brands that I could envision who are struggling to reach out to them, for whom the agencies might push Vogue.in as a media plan as a default. It’s an evolving process. There is interest in the market, and we have to demonstrate that we have the right environment.

What kind of metrics are advertisers looking for, from a premium property? Is it being determined by the content and brand perception, or are there are metrics?

It’s quality of audience. We, in general, as a company in India, always do a measurement in terms of who our audience is. We use several yardsticks to measure income, interest and consumption, through surveys and research. We use yardsticks like – the number of cars, and what categories, how many times do they travel abroad… We would replicate those for online as well, to provide benchmarks to advertisers and brands.

Secondly, there is a certain amount of self-select, in terms of content. There are certain types of people interested in reading about an Anupama Dayal outfit, where to find really kischy Indian silver jewelry, and at the same time aspire or own a Valentino couture outfit. If they are spending time in terms of minutes, and coming back every so often, those are the metrics we will share in order to say that the content is working.

Will some of the content be behind a registration wall?

Currently we’re of the mindset of doing all-open, but having said that, there are certain areas which, in the future, there could be potential to do paid content, though this is something we will debate on a monthly or a quarterly basis. There are certain areas which we feel there is value we will provide to a certain person, whether archives or other portions of content which are premium, there is cost for maintaining that, and if there is value to a certain segment of audience which will be willing to pay for that kind of content.

But fundamentally, as a media property, it’s pretty much an open consumer access property, which goes with what works well in terms of portals internationally.

What plans for the mobile?

We are planning to launch something on mobile, which I’m not able to share yet. I can tell you that it will be primarily for GQ to start with. We will have a WAP presence for all our sites, but what the other mobile play is, I will be able to share with you later.

Part 1: Vogue India Relaunched; Maya Hari On Conde Nast India’s Approach To Digital

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