New Delhi: On 14 October, Sreekant Khandekar, 53-year-old director of Banyan Netfaqs Pvt. Ltd, uncorked the bubbly among 250 invited guests at Mumbai’s swank Olive Bar and Kitchen to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Afaqs.com, India’s first business-to-business (B2B) website in the advertising, media and marketing domain.
Khandekar’s online venture, which was earlier named Agencyfaqs.com, began in New Delhi in 1999 and is moving into new business segments.
A few days from now, Banyan Netfaqs will go live with its website Telecom Yatra.
“It will be India’s first B2B telecom website,” Khandekar said, adding that the company will launch two new websites in the next one year and leverage afaqs as the umbrella brand.
Road ahead: Director of afaqs Sreekant Khandekar says almost 25% of the company’s revenue now comes from non-media clients in the automobile, telecom, tourism and other sectors. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Banyan Netfaqs also publishes Brand Reporter, a fortnightly magazine, and has ventured into events and conferences.
Khandekar expects to keep growing in the next few years.
“I don’t see why we can’t be 5X or 10X of what we are today in the next five years,” said Khandekar, also the founding editor of A&M, India’s first advertising and marketing magazine. “It would depend on our ability to execute the projects.”
Khandekar is confident of creating content and selling ad space on the Internet. “Most online businesses are subsidized by the original print companies, but nobody subsidized us and we have learnt on the job,” he said.
The media industry pegs advertising expenditure on trade magazines and media and marketing websites at Rs30-40 crore a year.
Competition has intensified with the advent of online and print B2B products such as Indiantelevision.com, exchange4media, Campaign India, Impact and Pitch, among others.
Anurag Batra, co-promoter of exchange4media, launched in 2000, claims that his website has an edge over afaqs in terms of the number of visitors as well as advertising volume.
Afaqs flaunts its Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) electronic audit conducted in the UK. ABC is an industry body that verifies and reports on media performance.
“Last year, we became the largest site in our space anywhere in the world,” said Khandekar, adding that it gets about 3 million page views a month.
Batra argues that such numbers are not relevant to B2B portals. “Check out the volume of advertising on our home page. The absence of an ABC audit has not impacted us,” he said.
Khandekar, however, said that the UK certificate has helped attract non-media clients to its website. “Almost 25% of the company’s revenue now comes from non-media clients in the automobile, telecom, tourism and other sectors,” he says.
According to the chief executive officer of a large media buying agency in Mumbai, “Exchange4media is aggressive and even sensational, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but afaqs is a product from a journalist.” The executive requested anonymity.
Khandekar had earlier spent a decade in India Today and covered the Bhopal gas tragedy for the magazine.