Friday, March 16, 2007

Topic for the Day - Take 15

Hey guys,

Many of you have been complaining to me that there is nothing much happening on the blog these days. I had been a little lazy I shud admit. But apart from that, was a little busy replying to queries on forms and PI questions on mail, was a little busy at work and also thot that there was enough preparation on GD. Am also trying to work out something for the website too.

In the meanwhile, PS has requested that I shud put in a topic that is of dear to him and he is sure that there will be good participation from the group. So here is the topic for discussion

"Given all the powers of India (being a dictator with no opposition), what steps will u take to improve India"

And my GD analysis for the last one is pending. I think this has been the nth time I am saying that it will be out soon :p.... The promise still holds good :)


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Where do we go from here

It is touching to see so many people come and say that I cannot stop the blog. It has been a splendid journey for me and I am not going to let the enjoyment of learning and teaching go. I am doing what I like best and with so much support, I have no doubt that I want to keep doing it.

Now that it is going to go on, the question comes on what to do next and how to do it best. The best way forward is to help people prepare strong for CAT next year. So let me set the objectives right, so that we can move with the execution plan
1. The basic idea is to increase knowledge and not just be exam focused.
2. It is to have experienced people sharing knowledge and also giving the best fundaes that no coaching institutes give.
3. It will be a knowledge portal and a ‘guidance’ class. Not a coaching class. What it means is that it will not compete with IMS/Time/Career Launcher etc. (I still hold a strong view that coaching classes are not necessary for cracking CAT. The material they provide sure helps in practicing tests though)
4. Ads will keep running and generate revenue based on clicks on the Ads, but the objective of the site will stay non-monetary

So now for setting some ground rules for the execution of the objectives

1. Anyone who wants to contribute can.
2. There is no bind on what you want to send. No rules, no deadlines, no work pressure. Most of you guys who will join MBA institutes will not have too much time for other things :) One suggestion is send things in areas that interest you most and where there is some learning for you too.
3. The content will be moderated for aptness and quality.
4. All the people contributing to this effort will do it purely for personal delight and self-learning. 5. Based on the quality and quantity of contribution, I may decide to send thank-you mails, e-greetings, personal cards, small gifts, books, gift vouchers or hefty paychecks as the case may be :) This will be completely funded by the Ad revenues
6. The copyright will rest jointly with me and the writer. Note that this is to make sure that people don’t misuse the content by doing a cut-paste in various websites and forums

The areas I thought would be helpful are
1. Simple math problems – these will try to give clear understanding of basics rather than being practice problems for CAT. People will be allowed to participate and answer
2. English Grammar section – will have questions so as to aid understanding and clearing the basics. People will be allowed to participate.
3. A word a day – to enhance vocabulary. Usage will be covered too
4. An article a day – The article should have good language apart from knowledge. This is to make reading a habit. This will be of great help for RC. We can have sections in this covering different areas of interest
5. We need to do something for the DI section too. Let me think on this.

These are just a few things that came to my mind. I would like you guys to come up with ideas that will help this initiative. As always, if you don’t agree with any of the above, you are free to critique/shout/’raise a hell’ and we will fight it out to reach a common ground.


Monday, March 05, 2007

The long tail of advertising

Courtesy: Nidhi

“The long tail” is being talked about in a number of contexts these days – music, books and advertising being most popular. Very simply put, the theory reverses the logic of ABC analysis and Pareto’s 80-20 rule (For businesses, this meant that 80% of your revenues come from 20% of your customers). The earlier theories proposed optimization by focusing on few entities (products/ channels/ customers) to bring in higher value. The theory of long tail reverses the logic by saying “hits” (entities that bring higher value) constitute only a fraction of total value and significant value lies in entities of higher value.

This is the concept that has revolutionized the way Web 2.0 is evolving and the way internet companies generate revenues. So, here I talk about the long tail concept in relation to internet advertising. Since internet has emerged as a new marketplace, cost of distribution has hit rock-bottom. It has become feasible to cater to a number of smaller entities. In advertising context, these entities are advertisers and WebPages (publishers). There are a few advertisers with huge budgets and infinite number of those with smaller budgets. Traditional media like TV, radio, newspaper are costly vehicles for advertising. Internet, on the other hand, provides infinite ad space with only marginal cost to webpage owners. Hence it has become a very attractive destination for these small time advertisers

Let us see how Google acts as a mediator to get the maximum out of the long tail to understand the concept. Google provides a platform for contextual advertising. It means that Google searches the webpage on which an Ad is displayed, picks up the key words and serves an Ad relevant to the content of the webpage.
Say e.g., OnlineCat is an online CAT portal that wants to advertise on the internet. It subscribes to Google Adwords like ‘CAT’, ‘MBA preparation’, ‘online MBA’ etc. So when these words are found on a website (like Catfundae blog), Google will put in the Ad for the company. When there are many companies competing for the same Adwords, the one paying more will get his Ads displayed. So more competition means higher price. When user click the Ad on the website, Google charges the company and also pays a part of it to the person owning the website.
With Google Adwords, an advertiser can spend anywhere starting from Rs.800 per month and still reach a sufficiently large audience.

In short, Google acts as a mediator between millions of websites and thousands of advertisers. Webpages are like newspapers publishing Ads. More the reach, more the revenue.
Note that unlike newspapers, on a webpage, you can measure the interest shown by users through clicks. More popular websites get higher revenue Ads and hence get paid more for each click on the advertisement (Like TimesofIndia charges more for an Ad than Deccan Herald)

But things are not hunky dory for all the websites. What people fail to understand in this is, that with 7 million web pages being created per day, the supply-demand scenario is such that advertisers have an upper hand. It is possible to get a page to advertise your product; no matter how low the budget is (even zero budget charity ads find takers).
So if you think you just have to put ad-sense on your page and rest is easy, think again.

Suggested readings:


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Why I do what I do

No, god did not call me like he did to Bush and ask me to save the world

It has been two months and the journey of guiding so many people for GD/PI has been enthralling. Lots of people have said ‘thank you very much’ through comments, personal mails and even phone calls. Now with the interview and GD schedules at most colleges coming to an end, I thought I should write on what inspired me to take this whole initiative. I have put my reasons in the reverse order of importance (The last point is the most important :))

1. Was it money? Many would have heard about Google Adsense and would also have seen the Ads on my blog. Yeah, the clicks on Ads do generate some revenue and I have been richer by a couple of dollars (you heard it correct) in the last two months :). The attraction for me was not a few dollars (though it buys me a couple of coffees), but to learn about Google Adsense and how it has revolutionized the way Advertisements work on the net. This is called ‘Long tail of Advertising’ and has inspired internet users and is a driving force behind Web 2.0. So it has been a great learning for me understanding the whole thing practically and I don’t mind the couple of coffees it would buy:) If things I have talked here are too heavy, dig up a little on the net on Google Adsense, ‘Web 2.0’ and ‘Long tail of advertising’. Anyway, Nidhi has agreed to write a small piece for my blog on the these subjects in the next couple of days to enlighten us all.
I Learnt.

2. I love teaching and Nidhi says I am good at it. I have been doing a little here and there. I also guided many of my juniors at IIMB for their GD and PIs. So when some people asked for my help in their prep for GD and PI, I thought blog was a nice way since I could do it everyday and many more people can benefit from it.
I Taught.

3. Writing has been a passion, but the urge for writing comes once in a bluemoon. I had started writing a blog and had written about four pieces in the last one year. I wrote only when I was in a great mood to do so, not for the sake of it and enjoyed every bit of it. Catfundae gave me another venue and I have been enjoying writing and thinking
I Wrote.

4. Job satisfaction Vs Work satisfaction – I pursue good set of hobbies like Bird watching, trekking… Play a lot of sports (you name it, I play it)… eat of a lot of food… write a little bit here and there… read a lot… travel… fight with my wife… play with my kid… I have always done a lot of things outside my job and have never demanded that my job give me all the pleasures of life. At times I have killed myself at the job working like mad, but mostly have maintained a sane work-life balance. Catfundae was something I loved, was decently good at and was a great learning experience. What more can you ask from your work.
I Worked.

5. Most importantly, Blog provides what other work may not – Independence. You have complete control on what you do and you can spill your creativity as much as you want. People can cry hoarse, but they cannot stop :)
I Enjoyed.

I may have disappointed a few who thought it was ‘just philanthropy’ and some will bash me up for digressing (from GD/PI fundaes).
I wanted to say it. I have done so. As always, the comment section is open for critique. Roses and brickbats, keep them coming. They keep me going.