Disrupting the newspaper industry by massive research

Came across this interesting case study on IK@W about how newspapers in India are competing cutthroat with each other on acquiring customers and how the Dainik Bhaskar group managed to make DNA one of the most widely read paper in Mumbai, by extensive market research. What’s fascinating about their research is that they don’t outsource the work to an agency such as IMRB, rather prefer to do everything in house, and at a magnitude of 600,000 households in some cases. That is almost 6% of the population of a metro city in India. [link]

The Bhaskar Group has had a different approach. It tries to learn what the market wants, and instead of outsourcing this task to a market research agency, it does this largely in-house. For example, when Dainik Bhaskar made its Rajasthan entry in 1996 with its Jaipur edition, it surveyed 200,000 potential readers. Before launching DNA in Mumbai, it went one better; some 600,000 people were surveyed in the first round. “For us, this is much more than market research; it is a way of involving the reader,” says Girish. Adds Pawan: “We have always looked at what our consumers want. We have always looked at things that are latent rather than what they already know. This has been our primary differentiator in our approach to content. We look at how we can surprise our reader rather than just please him.”

The Dainik survey is an awesome experience. They build their own teams of part-timers from scratch. For instance, in Ahmedabad [for the Divya Bhaskar launch], they used 1,050 surveyors, 64 supervisors, 16 zonal managers and four divisional managers. Dainik surveyed 1,200,000 households — possibly the single biggest consumer contact program in history. And they met each household twice.

Fascinating stuff, this. Must’ve been a logistical nightmare — Kudos to them!

[Another interesting read: How to dismantle a billion dollar industry … as a hobby!]

Why Politicians make for bad Policy Makers?

I was reading this piece in Businessworld, and found a very succinct reason why politicians, who are so successful at stirring up local emotions, falter when they win the elections and enter the bigger stage (near the end of the article): [link]

Politicians grow up in stagnant little wells of local politics, where they learn to play with parochial prejudices. The prejudices are shackles in the larger roles politicians end up in.

Made a lot of sense to me!

Sometimes, some politicians are smart enough to figure out that in order to build up grassroots base they need to stir up emotions — and they do it just to win the elections, even though they know full well that its just a means to an end. What’s happening in Mumbai (marathi maanoos) and what happened in Gujarat (post Godhra) earlier, and often keeps happening in Bangalore (Kannada Rajyabhasha) are obvious examples of these.

I am also so thankful that our prime minister is a non-political person. At least he doesn’t do things for a political win — however, I wish he had some more politicial dexterity to handle his party, his coalition-partners, and the opposition better.

Associating Template files with HTML editing engines in Eclipse

We have been using template files (*.tpl) for one of our projects, and editing in plain text is always painful. So, here’s a mechanism to use the default Web Editor in Eclipse to edit the files:

  • Add filetype association: open Window > Preferences > General > Content Types > Look for ‘HTML’ and add ‘*.tpl’ (without quotes) to associate tpl files with html content type
  • Add editor preference: open Window > Preferences > General > Editors > File Associations, and associate the ‘*.tpl’ type with the ‘Web Page Editor’.

This should also work with any other templating type that uses html as the base markup.

And then, code away to glory!

Fatherly Advice to Programmers by Chuck Jazdzewski

Chuck Jazdzewski gives very topical advice to programmers in a post on his blog [link].

The main bullet points:

  • Keep Learning
  • Learn to communicate
  • Be Predictable
  • Own up to Your Mistakes
  • Never let Bad Code off your Desk
  • Programming is Fun but Shipping is your Job

Needless to say, the last one is my favourite :-)

Happy Durga Puja!

It’s the time of the year again when we are anxiously waiting for the longest vacation in the year — the time of Durga Puja in Calcutta. And the festival brings not just a phew! for the vacations, but also unbridled joy, masti abound, relatives and friends, and adda as not seen for the rest of the year. Here’s wishing everybody a very happy Durga Puja!

The only pain point in Durga Puja is the traffic. Vehicles slow down to a crawl, and stand boot to bonnet on the streets. And while you can’t wait to reach the next pandal, you are not blessed with a BatMobile, and hence practicalities of life can dampen the spirit sometimes. It’s for this reason that we have tied up with Kolkata Police to provide live traffic updates through an SMS. You can sms “PUJA” to 9874400500 to get the list of commands. We also provide location of the top 80 pandals in Kolkata, the vehicular entry points, and the closest parking (as stipulated by traffic police). You can also look up this information online at www.capillary.co.in.

Read more details at our team blog.

Cheers — here’s to a traffic free puja!

PS: A handout for your reference:

Live Traffic Updates this Durga Puja!

Live Traffic Updates this Durga Puja!

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