They have been all over TV for the last 2 months, but if you missed them for some reason, watch them here before you read on: ibibo ad #1, ibibo ad #2
Notice something strange – its an internet company, that too a social network using a mass media platform to advertise, huh. I wonder who is running their marketing, but whatever they are doing goes completely counter to the concept ( of social networking ) that they are selling.
So whats wrong here – a couple of things:
1) Mass Media = Old Media. This is the age of sending specific, targeted messages to people who are interested in listening to them, not blasting people with messages they don’t want to hear. Imagine a joint family watching a movie and one of these ads shows up in the interval – how many of them are the real target audience?
2) Mass Media is for branding. Mass Media is used by companies that want to build brands, like HUL or P & G, who want you to remember the name of their soap so that you pick it over others in the shopping mall. Using a Mass Media approach for intent driven advertising has all signs of failure.
3) Mass Media is costly. Every time your ad runs on TV, it sets you back by a few lacs at least. For a company that is offering a free service, that can be a huge setback in the balance sheet and will make it extremely hard for them to become profitable. Yes, they may get some users, but how long can they sustain by pooling in money from their other businesses.
4) To top it all, the concept of social gaming has been copied from facebook, which is not only going strong globally, but also making inroads into the Indian market. Plus, they have an extremely viral strategy going for them which means that everyone that is on ibibo is probably also on facebook. Which of them is going to stick – the answer seems obvious.
5) Finally, you need to scream when your product doesn’t speak for itself. I haven’t used ibibo games, but my guess is that they don’t have a good product out there which is why they need to burn so much money in marketing to get noticed. Good products, especially the ones that are social, spread quickly through word of mouth ( or mouse ).
What they should do? Here is my advice:
1) Come up with a unique product concept, think about something that has a local zing to it, something that facebook is not going to do. So when you copy farmville, you have direct competition from facebook, but if you choose to do something around IPL for instance, that is something that the nation is already crazy about and can ensure visibility for the product from the word go.
2) Stop burning money in Mass Media for God’s sake. That is for companies that sell soap, not for internet social networks. Instead, spend more time planning an internet strategy that would spread the word – a bit of adwords, a bit of SEO and lots of social media could be the perfect mix.
3) Most importantly, focus on building virality inside the service itself. This is an intensive process and requires depth in product management to pull off. But if you have the money, why not get some good guys who can figure it out and turn the service into one where every new user brings in 10 of his/her friends rather than wasting that money in Mass Media.
4) Specifically regarding social gaming, a neat thing to do would be to have a strategy that lets other sites embed games inside them. That opens up avenues for partnership and several distribution channels which will spread the word far and wide with very little cost.
What is your opinion about their strategy? Any solutions you would like to propose?