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Digital Insight bottom of pyramid

Published on August 7th, 2011 | by Saurabh Pandey

Online Classifieds in India & The Bottom of Pyramid

At first we thought it was a joke! A buffalo listed on our classifieds portal-tradusAds.in
We decided to do a telephonic check. (Each ad on tradusads.in passes through a moderation check, and a few also go through telephonic check even after they appear on the site.)
The results were even more surprising! The lister was genuine. He is a driver with MCD and had just sold his buffalo as well!
My immediate reaction was-that these are the people who will make classifieds portals click in India. If the bottom of the pyramid starts using our portal- then we can claim real and genuine success.
We need to make classifieds portals useful to the most common denominator in India.
After this incident, we have seen at least 4-5 more cattles being listed on tradusads.in and not just that many trucks and tractors are also being listed as well.
Why target the bottom of pyramid? <(Read more about the bottom of pyramid here)
Look at the investments in classifieds portals in India- In the last 3 odd years at least USD50m has been poured in only the top 3 or so portals.
The pressure of RoI must be looming large on the portals that have digested USD15-20m already.
What can they show as RoI? How the Investment cycle will FAIL in many cases here!
1. No. of listings- Yes the big ones have million plus listings. However spare a moment to look at the quality of these listings – most of the listings appear spam, expired or non-local.
2. If they want to show premium/paid listings as RoI- it’s still a non-starter. Very miniscule. Each of these portals will need about a million paid advertisers to come closer to showing any RoI.
3. If they want to show reach- most of them are unknown, and are used largely as a replacement for yellow pages-not as a C2C classifieds like craigslist.
Ever since Google bid $6b for GroupOn and AOL bought patch.com, the entire world went into a frenzy of investing into a local or a deals portal.
The after effect of this-
1. Toms, Dicks and Harries started new classifieds and deals portals
2. Invested millions of dollars into adwords
3. Acquired listings by millions (spammy most of them like-work from home, MLM, tantric etc.)
4. Claimed leadership
The Existing Model-Doomed already?

The Ideal Model- Will this be a reality?
1. Engage people, including the lowest common denominator, in such a way they see and experience the compelling benefits.(Indians are now beginning to see the benefits, but classifieds portals need to show compelling benefits to many more)
2. Demonstrate success. Success breeds success.
3. Make yourself relevant- the categorisation, localisation and listings should be relevant to the lowest common denominator.
The day 2million people start paying for premium value added listings (which means that 200m people will list for free), that’s when classifieds will be really successful. And for this to happen the classifieds portals need to think beyond the obvious to reach the bottom of pyramid. (Read more about the bottom of pyramid here)

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