Indian Express: Where’s the you in YouTube?


by Jen Carswell

Taking a page from the worldwide web, the supremely popular video-sharing site YouTube has also decided to transform into a glitzier 2.0 version. Current users have the option of changing to a more aesthetic and participative page layout—but soon the switch will be mandatory. However the initial overhaul date has been delayed by weeks, perhaps months, because of still unsolved glitches. But forums and comment spaces are buzzing with unhappy YouTubers, fingers angrily expressing their distaste for the updated version. So, why all the fuss?

First things first: the new look. With a sleeker, sexier design—rounded edges, warmer colours—the user’s posted videos fill the screen, with the latest video in the main player. Underneath, organisable boxes house other features like friends, subscriptions and recent activity. At first glance, the new site seems more professional, with a less basement, messing-around-with-your-mates vibe.

But many YouTube fanatics are not at all impressed by the revamp. The YouTube blog, created specifically for the switch, is alight with negative comments. Japanlover97 says “I don’t care how many bugs there are, or when they’ll be fixed. Why “fix” something that isn’t broken?” User Selif adds, “The new one is over-bloated with flash and is a pain to work with. I like the channel design just fine without changing.” On Twitter, FattLip is “so happy the switchover to Beta is delayed, there are a lot of problems with it! Please reconsider forcing everyone to switch”.

Surfing from his desktop in Andheri, Anish Chatterjee uses YouTube, like most of us, to find funny clips and movie trailers. So he doesn’t spend a lot of time on his personal homepage. “I think the version’s nice,” he e-messages, adding “it doesn’t really make a difference to me, since I’m the kind of user who goes straight to the search bar anyway.”

Asfaq Tapia, a 25-year-old techie who uses YouTube nearly everyday, doesn’t understand why people don’t like the new look. “I like the new design, there are more options to view videos and it’s easier to navigate.”

The majority of unhappy commentators simply want an option: to update or not to update. But despite YouTube’s usual freedom of expression, it is, after all, not a democracy.

The reasons behind the change are to allow a more customised look for users, to allow them to navigate more easily and to beef up security. Most importantly, all corners have been rounded, which will save on costly pixels. A lighter running model would allow YouTube to cut down operating costs—a measure that the Google-owned site desperately needs.

Internet giant Google refuses to give specific numbers, but estimates run anywhere from $100 million to $400 million. Twenty minutes of video are uploaded every minute and traditional advertising barely dents the website’s perennial deficit.

“When Facebook changed its look, it faced the same kind of backlash,” explains Aditya Nag, a senior analyst at PC World India. He is quick to point out that the YouTube ‘blackout’, asking users not to log on to the site for 24 hours on July 14, failed to gain substantial momentum. With few constructive comments, understanding the discontentment is difficult. “In a month, everyone will be used to the new look and will have forgotten about the whole controversy,” adds Nag.

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Indian Express: New ways to lure audiences to theatres


by Natasha Sahgal

Gone are the days when movie posters and commercials were all that was needed to entice the viewer to watch a film. Today you can listen to Kareena Kapoor’s fashion tips on your phone, read Imtiaz Ali’s blog-posts about filming Love Aaj Kal or pretend to be Akshay Kumar and perform dangerous stunts in front of the computer, all before you set foot in the cinema hall.

With around 500 million Indians with access to the Internet, it’s not a surprise that movie marketing budgets are now being directed towards this new medium. “The number of Internet users are growing by the second, movie makers cannot ignore this revolution and have now started to take full advantage,” says Neeraj Roy, CEO of Hungama Digital Media.

According to Roy, most movies have started to dedicate at least 10-15 per cent of their total marketing spend on the digital medium. “While Hollywood films easily spend 30 per cent, the Indian makers will soon realise the great impact it can have. It won’t be long before the online spending will increase,” he says confidently.

The figures tell the same story too. The website of Ghajini had over 3 lakh unique visitors a month before the release, Saawariya had hundreds of followers on Twitter and sites like receive 100 million page views each month. It’s clear that Indians are now going online to get their fill of Bollywood.

There was a time when the only form of online marketing was on social media networks, which is basically spreading the word free of cost on sites like Facebook, film forums and blogs. “But production houses have realised that the response they get is really good and so they have slowly started to spend money to make themselves visible and alive online,” explains Moksh Juneja, an online media catalyst. This change is extremely visible by the number of image ads of Kambakkht Ishq and Love Aaj Kal that are doing the rounds of Indian websites for the past month. These spaces are usually bought for a period of time or are paid for every time the user clicks on an ad.

The biggest advantage of online marketing is that it can be targeted towards the right audience. “For example, when you pay for an ad on Facebook, you can choose to target the age group, sex and even interests of the users. This way you know your ad is being showed only to the right people and your advertising budget is not being wasted,” explains Asfaq Tapia, Communication Head from Pinstorm Technologies.

If you happened to log on to MSN before the release of Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na you wouldn’t have forgotten Imran Khan knocking on your computer screen to ask you to watch the film, the Hanuman videogame had hundreds of children glued to their screens and debates on Aamir Khan’s look in Ghajini are still going strong online.

The film plots may be hackneyed but ways of luring audience to the cinemas are hyper-creative.

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