Anurag Dod, CEO, On Vertical Search, Regional Languages & Guruji Ad Network

We caught up with Anurag Dod, CEO and Co-Founder, and questioned him about the guruji ad network and its differentiation, guruji’s experience with regional language search and lots more. Do check out his exclusive interview with us below.

1. Guruji has launched several verticals in search – What is the strategy behind that?

The aim of Guruji is to provide comprehensive search experience to Indian users.

For certain categories, web search experience is not enough and users would like see content in a different manner and also would like to search this category with different dimensions. Such categories transform as Search Verticals on Guruji. e.g. in City Search Category, user would be more interested in establishment’s phone number, address , location rather than a mere link to the website. Similarly Movie timings, Music, Finance have different content expectations and different search needs.

2. Guruji has launched an ad network – How do you plan to differentiate yourself from other networks?

AdGuru-Content is our ad network. Most of the Ad Networks in India are concentrating on display/banner ads only, we are offering both text as well as display ads. Currently, we are doing targeting based on content & geography and have plans to move into behavioural targetting as well. With addition of AdGuru-Content along with AdGuru-Search, we are able to give a comprehensive solution to our advertisers: performance-driven v/s branding-driven in one dimension, search based v/s content based in other dimension.

3. Has guruji planned to raise more funding or an exit strategy in the future?

We are well funded and had closed $8 million Series B round in late 2007 led by

Sandstone Capital.  We are concentrating on building the right products and increasing the traffic/usability of the site.

4. By when does guruji expect to break even?

Over the last few quarters, we have seen healthy growth in traffic and revenue. We have done adjustments as per the current economic condition and overall we are on the right growth path.

5. What would be the other verticals that you would look at going forward?

In the near future, we will be concentrating on improving the web search and existing verticals.

6. How has been the adoption of regional language search on guruji – Could you share some numbers?

We launched regional language search capability during the Mar-May 2007 timeframe. Since then, we have seen significant growth in regional search numbers but in terms of volumes, English is much larger than regional language search. What is noteworthy is that we see similar intent queries on regional language as we see in English whether its news related, entertainment, information, local search.

7. What are your thoughts on regional language search and its future?

Currently, regional information consumption is more towards browse behaviour compared to search behaviour – partly because of lack of content and partly because of input interface limitations.

For faster growth, shortcomings in a) content availability and b) ease of content consumption need to be addressed. Currently, we see major regional language content related to blogs & publishing/news sites – growth for other categories should happen.

Certain technical enhancements like standardization of fonts (UTF-8) have helped in the indian language growth. But more improvements around the interface for indian language content (better keyboards or voice enabled!) need to happen.

I think reqional language will be a major play in india in the next 3-4 years. As the internet penetration increases, there will be more users from non-metros compared to metro cities.  These users will have more affinity towards regional language compared to metro users.The initial trends are already validating this. Search being a key application on internet, will play a dominant role in the overall online regional language ecosystem.

8 Responses to “Anurag Dod, CEO, On Vertical Search, Regional Languages & Guruji Ad Network”

  1. Anupama Das
    April 9, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    Advice from failure. Guruji has tried hard in every direction and biting the dust. What is the point of this interview. Go and find good stuff.

  2. April 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    My question is are they taking their ad network seriously:cos
    They allow instant registeration no verification.
    The stats refresh after 1 day.
    The ad network looks like its working on a 300$ php script..sorry to say but that’s truth…..guruji could garner more publishers if it could provide some new and innovative features or even better good advertising infrastructure…

  3. Sushil
    April 9, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    I tried it myself. and got INR 1 for a click. with some bikini babe ads.
    Guruji sucks.

  4. April 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    Guruji has evolved over a period of time. However, as a result of evolution, could it be called as a “truely” search engine anymore? I visited the site and found myself browsing pages with relevant content when I searched for movie in hyderabad. To me, a search engine helps me finding right pages on internet.

    Fine and sensible that businesses evolve from time to time for attaining success. But, then they should re-brand and reposition themselves accordingly. This might help them reach the mass more effectively.

    Why then still calling an “Indian Search Engine”, when it could be repositioned in a different manner?

  5. April 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    Guruji is trying hard but unfortunately I don’t see any success for them. I sometimes wonder how VCs bet? Search and Ads are not a piece of cake for everybody to say – me too as they have moved into a space of massively parallel supercomputing with extremely complex algorithms.

    Lets see how good Ad guru will be w.r.t context & behaviour Ads.

  6. April 9, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    Adguru all time sucks. They take months to send your earnings. They never pay on the time.

  7. April 9, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    To me its more of a case of typical emotional attachment with your first venture. I advised several times to Anurag via comments to “rm -rf src/websearch” but he does not listen. He should try to become vertical and try to sell what sells i.e mobile apps, little bit of local search, little bit of classifieds, little bit of web2.0, little bit of marketing campaigns. Basically come outside in the street from plus software development centers…my friend…

  8. sachin
    April 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    Guruji is actually becoming a joke of the indian internet industry. They want a piece of every pie without actually doing any work for it in terms of differentiation or product features. The ad network is of course a below average one with publisher revenues being as low as Rs.0.6 per click. The search results continue to suck and the local search which was touted as a big product has been eaten up by competition long back. The only product worth mentioning is music search which will last as long as the music production companies dont sue them. The USP of the company has been the 8m$ they raised in series B. I am sorry Mr.Anurag, I dont see people using your search just because you are sitting on a pile of cash!! get your ass off the cash and do some catch up please!!!!

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