Question: You have experienced both the worlds - the old economy (while at the agency Rediffusion) and the new economy (Rediff.com).When do you think the Internet will become an integral part of the media and marketing plan of companies?
Answer: Internet media today is only 2% to 10% of media spend while it is 10%-40% of reach across countries This kind of lag of Spend to Reach is normal in the evolution of a new medium and we have seen ithistorically when TV and Radio came about. This gap is usually bridged in a decade or so
Question: In the Indian internet space a few players are taking away a disproportionate share of the revenue. When do you think this will change and when will revenue convert into profit for the players in the net space?
Answer: Winners-takes-most is normal for ad revenue; the answer is to build a supporting subscription revenue by delivering a really useful service
Question: Today there are hundreds of newspapers and magazines in our country. But a large number of them are loss-making propositions. Do you think emergence of online media like Rediff is a key factor in this?
Answer: Those newspapers that are 'vanity' businesses, that is, those owners who run them for returns such as promoting a cause, social prestige in the community and so on will keep going even if there are losses. The ones which are real businesseshave a decision to make. I personally hope they will all survive and prosper because newspapers are key social actors.
Question: What is the future for e-commerce in India, considering the numerous players in the industry, and the apprehensions the Indian consumer still has about the industry?
Answer: ecommerce in India is held back by poor broadband and credit card penetration and not by consumer apprehension. Government has to act with policy initiatives to fix this
Question: Rediff has been a trailblazer and a leader in the Internet space in India. What were the major setbacks and the major highlights while you were building up Rediff? What has been impact of the US meltdown on your business? How are you coping with the current recessionary business climate? You came up with a ' No ads on the homepage' policy in your latest revamp. How did it affect ad revenue overall for Rediff? If revenues decreased, where did you cover up for it?
Answer: The business we are in goes through techtonic change every five years or so and true to pattern we are in the middle of one right now. The current change is characterized by a move from PC to Mobile ( mode of access), from text to video (form of presentation), from ads to subscription ( revenue), from passive media consumption to active ( user generated media) and from personal to social. And all this is going on while there is a recession. But I think these are the challenges that makes for an interesting life, don't you think?