Stale Internet Growth in India -Is Offline Promotion the Way to Market Internet Business?

BBC has an interesting coverage of Internet growth in the world – right from 1998 to 2008 and India, (un)surprisingly remains at the same level (relatively), while others have managed to grow the Internet population.

Internet Growth in India
Internet Growth in India

Changing the track, you must have noticed how Snapdeal and Flipkart have taken the offline route to market their offering – Snapdeal is advertising on TV, while Flipkart has an ad on ET newspaper today.

Couple of questions/perspectives:

1. Why would Internet companies go offline to promote their service, which is online?

Answer: A logical answer is brand building [Google did this with Chrome] – but that’s what banner ads are for! Most importantly, there is no way to measure RoI for TV/print advertising (unlike online) – so is there just too much of easy money these days ? (read: Are Indian VCs Hedging Their E-commerce Risk?).

Smells like bubble?

2. These offline promotions peg an important debate – if there a ceiling to Internet audience in India, will such offline promotions help increase the base/usage? Will more people check out these dotcoms because they are being advertised on TV/newspapers?

3. Ultimately, is offline/print the ‘only’ way to build (i.e. promote) a great Internet business in India (100 Crore ++), in terms of marketing/mass outreach?
4. Is this the price companies pay for founding team not being media savvy? Big corporates measure the effectiveness of PR team by looking at how many ‘free’ mentions they got in media (which otherwise they had to pay for).

What’s your opinion? For sure, Flipkart has moved ‘up’ the level. Watch this UnPluGGd video of Sachin Bansal, cofounder of Flipkart.

[link to BBC story]

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