Marketing is transforming and how.  We see 2 major transformative changes- the attention fragmentation of consumers’ and their changing buying decision journey.   The webinar, below, delved deeper into these phenomenon.

We addressed a few interesting questions from the attendees of the webinar, and tare presenting the transcript as takeaways below:


Given the engagement stage of buying journey is very critical , what % of our budget should be spent in this phase?

OK, so there are two important learnings from the presentation:

  1. It’s prudent to invest money on creating experiences for users at every stage. So what we are saying is that you should focus on what kind of experience is needed in a specific stage and then allocate a budget accordingly. Do not make it watertight by stage- rather focus on experience needed and then spend what is necessary to create that experience.
  2. We have to collect  a lot of data to be able to understand the impact of experience on consumers.  We need to observe if creating positive experiences, results in the flow of users from one stage to next better than earlier or not. This will give us a conversion rate (and a lift in conversion rate) by funnel stage. And then we can see how much each stage contributes to the final conversion or sales.   Now, you can attribute a clear cost of conversion by stage and can attribute a cogent budget.

This is the reason why modern marketers need to invest in  data and skill sets to create experiences.  (Our media expenses should be less in general, and investment on people & skills, data and experience creation should be more)


What are the Key metrics or KPIs for marketing RoI that we should  consider?

See, Key metrics or KPIs will depend on your goals for a specific campaign or goals for a specific journey stage, or goals of a certain product line etc.

CXOs look at Business growth as one key metric. Within business growth they look at market share growth, mindshare growth, satisfaction growth and profitability growth

However as you go down the hierarchy the metrics should become more granular.  At the end of the day as a marketing leader, you should be responsible for high level metrics- that’s where your value add is.  However you should look at granular metrics to understand what’s causing a lift and or decline in growth.

You should create a metric funnel. At the top of this funnel should be high level metrics and as you go down the funnel- define metrics for each layer of hierarchy, responsibilities and platforms or marketing areas that they handle. The top of the funnel is more strategic and bottom is more tactical, campaign based, platforms based, seasonality based etc.


When we do demand generation, we get a lot of leads, but how do we determine what’s a good lead?

So, net net, if my sales guy just has to pick up a phone, call the lead and the lead converts easily- then that lead is great!

But that’s easier said than done, and in real life it doesn’t happen that way most of the time.  The reason is our ignorance- where we look at all types of leads with one standard perspective and expectation.

If a lead has shown interest, and we have been able to collect correct contact and demographic data- it’s a good lead. But unless we attach intent and stage level data- it’s not a great lead.

Once we understand at which stage of buying this audience is and what exactly is the intent – then we can take appropriate steps and create expectations of how soon can this lead convert and what do we need to do till then.

We also need to understand that our target audience follows a journey and then at an opportune time fills up a lead form.  Leads forms are not filed on impulse. Hence it’s imperative for brands to capture intent and hand hold audience over time, and transition them towards a final lead capture of form fill.


While consumer attention is getting expensive for advertisers, should brands focus on creating communities?

The focal point should always be user experience. If the journey stage demands advertising, so be it, if it needs touch point experience, let’s invest there. So as I said earlier, let’s not create watertight compartments. If there is a clear rationale of who would be part of the community, what experience will this community deliver and if the context and importance of this experience is justified, we should invest in communities.  But lets not forget that metrics or brand expectations should also be in syn with experience objectives. An advertising objective will be quite different than community objective. While advertising is easy relatively and more direct and transactional, community experience will be tough to manage, long term and very less transactional in nature.


Please click here to access the 5 Stages of Consumer Experience Infographic and keep tuned in , for our announcements about our next set of webinars.


If I ask you to rent out your car when you are not using, and make additional money ; perhaps the answer would be ‘no’, at best you would skeptically ask “do these concepts work”?, a car sharing company in San Francisco, has signed up 10,000 vehicles in less than 2 years! This is becoming reality faster than we imagined! I can name about half a dozen such companies, including Airbnb- which has helped over 4 million people find places since 2008 (2.5m in 2012 alone)
People are listing and sharing everything, bicycles, cars, beds, pie-makers, lawn mowers, vacation kennels for pets.
There are obvious challenges here:
1. Trust: What will make you hand over the keys of a car or home to an unknown person
2. Regulation: If there is an accident in a hired car, who would be responsible? What about insurance?
But despite this the trends are strongly in favor of Sharing Economy. This becomes even more exemplified as GM , zip car, Avis and Relaycar, all make investments and some level of partnerships can be seen among them leading to better integration of this internet model with an offline model
Undoubtedly 2 major triggers for the success of Sharing Economy are:

1. Recession and 2. Facebook

The millenials, post the recession, have become sensitive to owning assets, and facebook are the triggers to allow and boost sharing. Together these trends have made this concept of shared economy possible.

The question that you may ask is if the Sharing Economy is applicable for intangibles also and if so then what are the dynamics? Well that’s a subject for the next post-watch out!

image courtesy:

TheWhizTimes, a unique platforms for kids and families, initiated a very innovative PR campaign this week.

Before we talk about that, here is a brief about, started by an ex-Nokia Head of earned Media and a social and online media veteran-Shalabh Pandey in Singapore, plugs a very relevant gap in today’s society and that is about how to give kids and families a safe educative and entertaining platform where they can be abreast about the latest happenings and also collaborate and create to give vent to their creativity.
The concept and the content itself is very unique and is the need of the hour

(Look at the infographic below to appreciate the relevance of such a portal):

TheWhizTimes already has a great content, engagement tools and good traffic both on the site ( and

What it needed to do now was to reach the editors of major publications. Given that editors already get hundreds of press-releases every day, TheWhizTimes thought of a unique idea to catch attention of the press:

They created ‘personalized videos’ for each editor and explained the concept like a one to one meeting.

Given that each animated video is personalized, editors view the video out of curiosity and hence the objective of getting the attention in a relevant way gets fulfilled.

Needless to say one such video came for me also at ‘atomthought’ and I was tempted to carry it and share this unique and innovative way of media marketing/pr with you all.

The innovativeness of this concept and the the marketing technique is undoubtedly a great learning experience for all marketers.

Those of you who are clued on the NASA’s Mars Curiosity mission would have comprehended, but for others, we are talking about Curiosity’s descent to Mars and the 7 minutes that it took for curiosity to plunge from Mars atmosphere to the ground (and that it slowed down from about 13000MPH to almost zero in the same duration)!

However the highlight of this post is about the commendable work NASA has done to arouse interest, enthusiasm and engagement in the masses across the world, especially the teachers and student communities around the MARS exploration!

NASA and Microsoft created a game for XBOX which is all about trying one’s hand at landing the Rover on Mars. Users say it’s a uniquely enjoyable way to use the Kinect to experience the landing.

The game is available for free here

Apart from the game that created immense engagement and buzz; NASA also leveraged other sociaL channels, the main being twitter.

The followers on the @MarsCuriosity twitter account exceeds 1million and has over 1200 tweets!

In the recent few days the average number of tweets is hovering around 1 tweet every 5-6 hours! That’s enough to keep the excitement alive.

And not just that the tweets cary pics and videos which make the experience come alive so much more.

NASA also leverages ustream to broadcast live and recorded events. For e.g. Today (Aug 22nd, 2012) you can get a LIVE UPDATE on Mars Rover Gale crater exploration.Click here to view

Not to forget Youtube, which is heavily populated by NASA and you can find volumes of videos around Mars and other stuff. Talking about Kids here is an interesting animation created on

Everything converges to buzz and UGC that is created out of this, and what better testimonial than Barrack Obama who said that he would check with his team on whether it makes sense to sport a Mohawk hair style as sported by the flight director: Bobak Ferdowski! (Read a nice report on Washington Post here:)

As we end this story here is a link for you to check out an interactive panoramic view of Mars. Click to enjoy. (Watch this in full-screen)

I discussed this question with a few people in the industry (internet) and frankly I was dissapointed because
many of them without any concrete logic expressed their agreement with Online classifieds being a winner takes all market.

It’s easy to describe a market as ‘Winner Takes All’. It’s easy because it gives one an easy way out of many questions.

When the market is ‘winner takes all’- then you only have one option and that is to grow largest in the quickest possible time-leveraging network effect to the fullest.

However, somewhere I am not convinced with this and thought of discussing this aloud on atomthought with you all:

So here are the thoughts, and then let’s discuss and decide if this is indeed a winner takes all market!

Firstly there are various examples in India and abroad that signify that multiple players can operate with significant market shares in classifieds market:

1. If you observe the ‘Vertical Classifieds’ market in India you can see that very clearly there are 2-3 big players in each vertical:

Jobs: Naukri, Monster and Times

Naukri despite being in the market since 15 years and despite being a very dominant player, is still under pressure by the other 2 players.

Matrimony: and Both players very strong.

Real Estate: 99 acres, Makaan and Magicbricks.

Observe the Print classifieds market- there is no single winner. Despite ToI being the largest English newspaper, and Dainik Bhaskar perhaps being the largest newspaper
None of them is a clear winner.

Net. net, in all the above examples the winner doesn’t takes all.

2. Even in Europe we have leboncoin, and a couple more horizontal classifieds portals competing and sustaining successfully.

3. In order to become a winner takes all player- there needs to be a very strong network effect- for example look at facebook- more the users join > larger the value for each user> thereby attracting even more users> even more value for users …and so on.

The effort required in creating and maintaining our network on a 2nd social platform is so high that we restrict ourselves to 1 social platform (read Facebook)

Now that’s then a winner takes all market. Read Social Networks & Their Strategy for India here

However we don’t see such a strong network effect in classifieds space.


To be a ‘winner take all ‘  there should be broadly these 4 requirements:

1. Multi-homing costs high for users (at least one side of the network)

2. Cross Side network effect to be strong (great if same side network effect is also strong)

3. Users do not have a high need for differentiated offerings

4. Natural Monopoly

I don’t see the 1st and 3rd conditions getting satisfied in horizontal classifieds market. Point 4 is rarely seen.

To give you an example Railroads, Electricity, Telecom, TV service etc. may show traits of natural monopoly. In recent times platforms/companies like Akamai show natural monopoly traits-because they invested and built expensive and expansive infrastructure which is difficult to be duplicated or competed with. (Source: Harvard Business Review Publications)

The sellers, in a classifieds space, can post their listings in 2-3 portals (because it’s free, and it takes a minute to post); the buyers on the other hand like to explore hence they don’t mind surfing 2 -3 portals, and more importantly buyers search on Google initially and then go to 2-3 classifieds portals for further search and purchase.

The question can be asked that if a classifieds portal amasses huge volumes of listings quickly can it not easily kill other players, by demonstrating strong network effect?

The answer is ‘no’. More listings per day means that a particular listing will get less time on first page, thereby attracting less number of views and responses thereby dissatisfying users.

Hence more volumes will not build network effect-infact after a threshold it can break whatever little network effect was created.

So In classifieds space- there is a network effect; however it breaks up before becoming strong enough, thereby allowing more than 1 player to operate with a significant market share.

Infact people will use more than one classifieds portal, also because some portals will be very efficient in certain categories or geographies-hence it looks like that Online Classifieds space is not a winner takes all market. We will continue to see 2-3 major players across the world and in India in this space.

But these are my thoughts, what’s your take?

ebay is gradually but steadily& seriously working towards becoming the dominant ecommerce player if the world. After having been beaten by Taobao in China and observing the surge of Amazon as a cloud-marketplace, it’s not unnatural for ebay to initiate what it calls X.Commerce.

ebay realises that to win this battle, it has to play the end-to-end game; meaning ebay wants to control, payments, logistics & supply chain, multichannel customer experience & transaction,
enabling hosted shopfronts, and providing scale & targetd reach to SMBs, large enterprises or C2C merchants

I tried creating an infographic to show the ebay strategy based on my understanding and you can understand how the recent buy-outs by ebay are starting to make sense.

Let’s look at the buy outs first:

1. – Over 1.2 lac retailers onboard. Location based ad-network + local deals. (USD135M)

2. ecommerce player (USD 75M)

3. Open sourced ecom platform-alongwith mcommerce and hosted shopfront options. Over 90,000 retailers onboard. (ebay bought 49% stake last year @ USD22.5M, the rest 51% was bought this year)

4. GSI- Complete logistics, order management and CRM platform. ((USD 1.96B)

5. PayPal: mobile and web payments (USD1.5B)

6. FigCard- Point of purchase payments (figures not available)

7. Red Laser- barcode reading app (bought in 2010)

At the centre of the ebay nervous system is the Open Sourced Web & Mobile Platform- Magento-this platform can enable anyone to start a shop, and enables customers to transact
from a web or mobile platform. This platform also enables developers to develop applications and solutions which can be bought by both buyers and sellers

On this platform ebay plugged in PayPal for payment integration, and GSI for logistics, supply chain, and customer care.

This kind of closes the loop for everyone.

The services range from free to a few thousand dollars a year for merchants.

But the story is not over yet, ebay understands the merit of local shopping, local search, and offline payments. If these could be
brought in the ebay ecosystem then ebay will indeed control the real end-to-end of shopping.

And that’s how Milo, Figo and Red Laser make sense.
Milo is a local ecommerce platform- that allows users to search and buy products within a specific geography. This will also be integrated with the Open Source Platform.

Red Laser- allows users with smartphone to do comparison shopping offline, and then buy online near their location (courstey Milo), through barcode readers. (ebay had sold USD 600M of products through mobile phones in 2009, and tosay 10% of all ebay sales are on Mobile phones in UK)

See how Red Laser works here

‘Where’ allows users to search intersting deals locally, and also allows advertisers and merchants to target users by geography.

Figcard is another interesting acquisition, given that it enables offline transactions via mobile. Watch this very interesting video on how Fig Card works here:

An interesting read on Mobile Payments is also here

The question, after having read the above, is Are Indian eCommerce companies thinking on these lines yet? And more importantly- have Indian eCommerce players missed the bus already?

xcommerce bus image courstey:

What do you think will power the next generation enterprise? My long-time friend and the Editorial Director of The CTO FORUM Magazine asked me! Even before this, a few months back Gaurav Dewan from Solution Digitas asked me about Enterprise 2.0!

My discussion with Rahul and Geetaj Channana of CTO Forum Magazine, went on for a while and they asked me to share my thoughts as an article in the magazine. SO here is an excerpt of the same article and a link to the full-version below. Hope you enjoy reading the same and do write back with your thoughts! 

 So,  What do you think will power the next generation enterprise?

Maybe you know the answer already – people! Want to go even deeper – it’s collaborative ideas!

The success metrics of new genera-tion enterprise are already very clear: how can we be more innovative, relevant, effcient and adapt to change at 2X the speed thus far?

While the metrics and the power engine (people and ideas) seem traditional, the implications are very futuristic.

CK Prahlad, a world renowned strategy professor and thinker, states that in the new age enterprise will have to focus on a simple formula: n=1 and r=g. What he means by this is that the next generation enterprise will have to create products and services customized for every single consumer and in order to do so they need to source resources globally. No single frm or individual can have a complete monopoly towards satisfying customized needs of individuals in the new age of business. This is the key for Enterprise 2.0.

The next generation enterprise will have to harness the collaborative power of its stakeholders (its buyers and suppliers largely) to generate new ideas, work on those ideas and create innovative, relevant and effcient products that can be adapted quickly.

The next generation enterprises are already facing a tough problem – they are global in nature. Their intellectual capabilities are scattered across the globe. The only means to organise this intellectual energy is email and the age old intranet! Read this article where it was originally published:




image courtsey:

A few days back I penned down some thoughts on facebook notes and while doing that I found facebook notes really useful. Not many people use it though, it’s not in your face and not very glamourised but very utalitarian. Here are the thoughts originally penned here:!/notes/saurabh-pandey/the-power-of-facebook-notes/326953028518

I find facebook notes more powerful than twitter. I can put random thoughts, receive comments and the thoughts grow into something more meaningful and bigger in size.

Tweets are ephemeral, they are lost quickly, tweets are also restrictive.

Overall I guess one needs to intelligently use both the apps, it’s a pity though that not many people use notes features.

Facebook also on the other hand needs to work further on notes. For example how do i integrate my notes  with my 2 business pages? How can I have common notes across etc.

On the other hand, I have been able to integrate my blog with it and suddenly I have a populous notes section. I can also feel that it’s easir to pen down thoughts than writing a full fledged blog, writing notes is also quicker and one can do it via mobile from anywhere. It looks like a great tool for establishing thought leadership. Just imagining how this tool can be used by many CEOs to express their thoughts and establish tought leadership, not just that ideas can be invited and discussed as well.

Essentially notes are social but less frivoulus than social network comments, notes are microblogs but more comprehensive than twitter, and notes are complete expression through an online dialry just like blogs but much easier to execute , maintain and share.

What’s your thoughts on this?

Posts navigation