Yesterday, while reviewing the new version the Indiatimes.com*, we chanced upon something we haven't noticed before: an online advertisement for an Indian government department. Indiatimes featured a 300x250 pixel advertisement for the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. The Indian government is among the largest advertisers in India, and it advertises through its official advertising agency, the Directorate of Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP); so far, while political parties have advertised online, this is the first instance that we've seen of a DAVP advertising online. A document we found on the DAVP's website states calls for applications for empanelment for a pilot of three months (from November 21st 2010 to 20th Feb 2011), following which 20 companies will be empaneled for advertising in the first year. This is a fairly significant development for online publishers in India, because it indicates that a new revenue stream will open up for them. The DAVP advertises on publications after empanelling them, and once empaneled, publications usually see a regular inflow of advertising. It appears that Times Internet Ltd has been empaneled as an online publication, and we've requested the company for a confirmation. We wonder if any other online publications have been empaneled as well. Times Internet's sister concern leads among offline publications, when it comes to government advertising spends. According to data published on DAVP's website, it received Rs 34.20 crore in spends in 2009-10, while another group publication, the Navbharat Times, received Rs 4.81 crore. More details on DAVP print spends in…
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