Internet is extremely accountable. Gut and instinct cannot
work with it." Meet S. Ramakrishnan, the wannabe
Internet advertising expert who quit a secure job with
Procter & Gamble (India) to start up his own
agency. Along with him came V. Krishnaraj, also earlier
with P&G, fired by the idea of starting out on a new,
highly promising medium.
The duo seem to have adapted to the Net environment pretty quickly -- their names and
designations on their visiting cards carry no upper cases. And the name of their agency,
called 'intercept consulting' also has no upper case (however, we're using the capitals
here to avoid confusion). Their designations read the same strange words: client
understanding. "You can call us directors of the company," says
Starting out in December 1998, intercept consulting has managed gross billings of
"around Rs 60-70 lakh", according to Krishnaraj. Ramakrishnan adds that the
billings came from part consulting, including design, media campaign planning, and web
designing and development. Intercept Consulting has also expanded into Bangalore and
Delhi, and plans to open an office in Mumbai shortly.
"We were perceived as web designers when we started out," says Ramakrishnan.
But they wanted to be something bigger and far more relevant. "Know thy Web"
would perhaps best describe the area of their targeted consulting, and theyve got
their own products and propositions to support it. The first product (service actually)
launched by them is called WebSight, a tracking and analysis system that could be relevant
to content publishers as well as advertisers.
"We offer a lot of analysis of page views; we have a database to help track IP
numbers. We can tell you which country the visitor hit your website from, how many views
happened on a particular property. We can track references -- from where (not geography,
but direct references or other websites) did people come to your site," says
Intercept consulting has been offering this service for free so far "because we
want content owners to really understand their business," says Ramakrishnan. The
interest here is certainly not altruistic. In fact, the duo is considering putting a price
tag on the service, after a client uses it for six months for free. There may not be much
that's unique about the service that WebSight offers, but it gains importance for
Intercept when it is linked to AdCept, the other branded service that the agency offers.
Dishing out ads
AdCept, a centralised advertising management solution, has just been launched. It involves
websites becoming members with Intercept, whose server will download focused ads to a
visitor to any page(s) on member websites, even as he/she clicks for the page. The ads
will be directed depending on specific information on the visitor (which is where WebSight
comes in). This means that different visitors to the same page may see different ads, even
if they visit the page at the same time.
Sounds good, and Intercept says this would be attractive for both advertisers and
website owners. The advertisers will have the advantage of focused messaging, while the
member website will be able to get advertising depending on its visitor profile(s).
"The AdCept server analyses a page request and serves the right ad in real time,
using POINT technology," says Ramakrishnan. "The network is called the AdCept
Zone and to be on it, you have to have our code (a cgi component) on your page. AdCept has
already been tested on a server in the US and has worked very well. We will continue to
have a server there and add one on in India."
Asked whether the ad display can be timed simultaneously with the opening of the
requested page, Ramakrishnan says confidently, "AdCept can execute 12 requests a
second on an average HTML format. We will cater to 70-80 million impressions at a
He, however, does not totally shrug off the query that given current glitches in
Internet connectivity in India, will AdCept in reality manage the same efficiency in
delivery as it has shown during its US server test?
But he strikes a positive note: "We have 12 sites already signed on for the
service and 25 more are willing to sign up."
Not bad for starters, that. Side by side, in an attempt to
consolidate its importance as an Internet consulting organisation,
intercept conducted an online survey between September and
November 99 on the value of the Net. The
survey, called NetValue, had Mode in for research across six
metros. Twenty-five websites participated in the survey; the
report should be out anytime now. Krishnaraj says the industry
norm for such surveys is six months and intercept may also
follow the same time frame. "Clients will get our reports