Are Indian English bloggers relevant for brands, advertisers and buyers?

Indian bloggers, advertisers / brands, and buyers are not on the same page. There is a big disconnect of brands with bloggers; and this problem is not going to disappear overnight. A fact check:

Look at these observations about Indian blogs that are almost irrefutable:

Most Indian blogs are on free platforms.
On most Indian blogs, there are not many comments. Out of the comments, very few have substance.
Most Indian blogs have very few visitors.
Indians have started online purchases in a big way but they seldom look to blogs for advice. 

From the above, we can draw these inferences:

Brands and advertisers do not see much value in Indian blogs because (i) there are not many people looking at display advertisements; (ii) not many people are likely to be influenced by the advice of particular bloggers; and (iii) not many people will be influenced by the engagement taking place through comments.

It is not that firms don’t patronize Indian bloggers at all. In the last one year or so, many bloggers have won cars for promoting them (e.g. Ford, Mercedes) on their blogs; bloggers routinely win prizes on platforms such as IndiBlogger and BlogAdda by participating in promotional campaigns / competitions; bloggers’ meets do get sponsors; travel bloggers get offers of all-paid trips and hotel stays; beauty and book review blogs get hampers and books; sometimes blogger-exclusive competitions / events are organized and bloggers are rewarded handsomely (e.g. Kerala Tourism). But this all is more of patronage or at best part of a social media engagement; it does not amount to blogging being seen as an influential medium that has influence on buyers.

Now look at the bloggers' attitude towards brands. Not many Indian bloggers use blogging for earning money. Even if a blogger is serious about monetisation, he is likely to take the quick route of remotely placed advertisements (e.g. AdSense) as he does not invest time and energy in building a relationship with brands.

This is a lose-lose situation: bloggers lose and brands lose. Brand apathy in India is also aided by general lack of appreciation among advertising and media companies about blogs. For them, it was websites earlier, and social networking sites now. If at all, they prefer AdSense route for advertising on blogs because it is well-aggregated, effortless and hassle-free. 

(Our observation is at variance with a one-year old Indiblogger study saying that 86% Indian blogs monetise, 45% are approached by brands and 56% blogs influence buying decision of buyers.) As expected, Indians settled abroad properly monetise their blogs and some of them earn handsomely from blogging.

Blogs as influencers of buying decisions: many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Many surveys have made us believe that blogs are taken as reputed web spaces. But this reputation ends with seeing the blogger as one who can write or who has a formidable archive of posts. A buyer takes many actions before making the purchase: She makes a search on Google / Bing / Yahoo, or compares different products and prices offered by different sellers, she may have an app on her mobile phone or laptop to help her take the decision, she might like to use up the discount / coupons / cash in the mobile wallet, and this might also influence her decision. She might like to take her friend's opinion or visit / call up the seller. Etc etc. Where does a blog fit in? Perhaps nowhere, unless it is a well-known blog-turned-website dealing with the subject?

So, what makes a knowledge-blog a buyer-friendly blog? We would like to discuss this broad issue later. For now, let's not digress from the topic, i.e. how Indian blogs fare in being relevant for brands, advertisers and buyers.

Our observation tells us (and pardon us for repeating that), Indian bloggers fare extremely poorly. When people search for products or services, Indian blogs are likely to come too low in search results to be of any relevance. On the other hand, by virtue of their popularity and also their advertisements on search engines, comparison and review sites take the limelight. Most Indian bloggers are too small to offer a discount on a purchase made through them; that reduces the chance of offline and word-of-mouth publicity. For advertisers, blogging is an advertising medium in which there is less reward per unit of effort made.

We conducted a quick survey during the last one fortnight on how Indian bloggers look at brands. We also approached head of a media firm. The findings  have helped us write this article with greater authority. Since some other articles are waiting for publication on ITB, we'd post the survey sometime later.

Articles in this series:
1. How active and influential are Indian bloggers?
2. What is the future of Indian English blogging?
3. Are Indian bloggers so much worse than American and European bloggers?
4. Are Indian English bloggers relevant for brands and advertisers?
(present one)
5. Indian bloggers don't want money; brands say, small blogs of no significance