Long before there was the top-ten list of sites doing top-ten posts, there was Indiatimes. Before Buzzfeed was even launched, Indiatimes execs had found that top 10 links and clickbait drove great pageviews from the homepage of what was a horizontal; now, it is just that: a site full of click-bait headlines and stories with the top 10 list format. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Prior to this change, Indiatimes.com was a horizontal portal in the classic sense, operating as a gateway to all of the Times of India group’s digital properties, including business properties (TimesJobs, MagicBricks, SimplyMarry, among others), publications (timesofindia.com, economictimes.com, maharashtratimes.com, navbharattimes.com, among others), spirituality (speakingtree), among many others. I remember visiting Indiatimes on a regular basis, looking for a ‘new’ tag next to a page, because it would invariably point me towards a new launch, which would be a story.
Indiatimes seems to have transitioned to its new avatar in September this year. It mentions that this avatar is not just a cosmetic makeover, rather a whole new avatar. “From the way we look to the stories we want to tell, everything’s different”. True to its nature, the company has made a list of the top comments it has received over the last 15 years.
A few things about this transition:
1. What about discovery of verticals? Instead of providing discovery to its verticals (idiva, Zigwheels, HappyTrips, SpeakingTree etc) via the Indiatimes.com horizontal, discovery is now being provided via a navigation bar on top of TimesofIndia.com, and its menu.
2. Mostly on their own? While the Times of India page still has links for verticals like BoxTV and Gaana, we wonder if the verticals are being mostly left to fend for themselves, without bringing in the visibility that Indiatimes.com gave to them. We wonder if this means a reduction in visibility and traffic from the rest of the group sites.
3. No more duplication of genre across publications? There’s always been some lack of clarity about what exactly Indiatimes was about, and issues of duplication of content with The Times of India group. It seemed as if the print operations and multiple web editorial teams didn’t really speak to each other, and different teams created the same genre of content across different sites. For example, Indiatimes had a tech section, while the group had Gizmodo India (and before that, Technoholik), and TimesofIndia.com had its own tech news segment. Now there’s one less, but invariably, I think that the new horizontal (in Times of India) should be an aggregation of verticals, and whether content or services, the brand must be the same irrespective of mode of distribution.
But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Despite the new Indiatimes.com, the Times of India also features Quicktir. It’s as if Times Internet Limited and Times of India Digital are two separate companies. Are they?
4. Times Internet Limited is not Indiatimes: The transition of Indiatimes from a horizontal to a site that proudly gives you “8 Reasons Why Virat Kohli Is A Ladies Man” alongside “7 things Arvind Kejriwal needs to do to win the Delhi elections” also inadvertently completes another repositioning exercise that began in 2008: in a sense, establishing that Times Internet Limited is different from Indiatimes.com. Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani had pitched a product approach to Times Internet Limited at our #NAMA conference in 2008. Watch that video here.
As an aside, Itimes is still around: we’re not sure of what exactly itimes is now, but what was the Times of India groups attempt at a social network is still around (and active).