The Reliance-ADA Group promoted has made its mark in the Indian social networking industry and is now searching for additional revenue streams, one of them being reality shows on its portal. Mandar Natekar, Head, Marketing and Revenue, argues on these strategies, and others to 4Ps B&M
Reality shows have been the talk of the town on the idiot box for many years now. Be it the longest-running MTV Roadies, the much-hyped Big Boss or the popular Indian Idol, all of them have created enough buzz in the marketplace to take the segment to a new level. And the latest trend attempting to make its mark is the launch of reality shows in the social networking arena. As Yamaha’s India Bike Rally created a lot of noise on the BigAdda platform last year, the social networking portal has followed it up with the launch of Get Fit India. Mandar Natekar, Head, Marketing and Revenue, shares his thoughts on the future of the social networking and the scope for growth in the reality shows arena in the industry with 4Ps B&M.

The India Bike Rally was good. But an online fitness reality show on BigAdda? Will it work?
The program is called Get Fit India and it is the first ever fitness reality show on the internet space. It’s an 8-week long reality show on where auditions will be held across select Gold’s Gym outlets in five cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mohali. Such programs have clearly opened new revenue streams for the company as Revital and Equal are the main sponsors and co-sponsors respectively along with Gold Gym as the main sponsor. We love to surprise our users constantly with such initiatives and will continue to do so in various innovative ways to enhance user engagement.

So, basically it is something similar to what you did with Yamaha India Bike Rally.
Yes, we did the rally last year and the response that it got was overwhelming. In fact, we would like to do it again this year as IBR2. We received stupendous response to India Bike Rally and here we are with our second reality show Get Fit India which is aiming to tap the young and enthusiastic India. With fitness being one of the most popular thing today among the youth of the country and social media being the fastest growing internet networking platform, we are confident that this show will not only entertain the participants of the show, but also ensure high engagement for all our users right from day one of the show. Moreover, our offline partner Gold’s Gym will also play a major role in its success.

So you’re saying that you’ll launch more such initiatives?
From now on, we will keep on launching such initiatives on different platforms in the coming time. In fact, we have already short listed the upcoming platforms and we are working on that keeping in mind the response the first one has got. But I would still refrain from divulging any further details on the same.

Is it because of the fact that the competition in the Indian social networking sphere copies formats really fast? Yes, because of the segment that we operate in, it will not take much time for the competition to copy us as an original idea takes a lot of time before it turns into reality.
There is immense competition in social networking industry. Where do you believe BigAdda stands in front of counterparts like Facebook and Orkut?
If you ask me frankly, we don’t consider Orkut as our competitor. Orkut is more of a dead brand in the country and it is only Facebook which is getting much of an action from the users. It was during a couple of years back that Orkut created a lot of buzz in the Indian market but that has settled now and we only consider Facebook as our competition as far as the players in the Indian social networking industry are concerned.

Does the fact that Facebook is now getting more serious about the Indian market and is opening an office in Hyderabad worry you?
The office that Facebook will be opening will be focusing more or less on supporting their back-end and hence will not be a point of worry for us.

What are your thoughts on other small social networking players in the Indian market?
There are a handful of social networking players operating in the Indian market but frankly, they haven’t been able to get anywhere so far. We don’t consider them in our league as we at BigAdda are aiming for the top slot in the Indian social networking industry.

But does BigAdda really have the potential to reach the top slot in the Indian social networking industry?
We are very much confident that we have what it takes to become the number one social networking portal. In fact, that’s what has been ingrained in the DNA of the ADAG that whichever segment it operates in, it always aims for the top slot.

Do you believe that localised content is the USP that many Indian social networking websites have vis-à-vis the globally established players?
Localised content is what BigAdda banks heavily on as it makes the platform more closer to the user and that’s what a Facebook or an Orkut can’t do. For that matter, we keep on organising such activities for our users where they can chat with Bollywood stars giving them an opportunity to interact with them on the BigAdda platform.

Pawan Chabra

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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