Rajan Anandan is the Vice President and Managing Director of Google India, responsible for all Sales and Operations in the country. He joined Google in February, 2011.
India makes a substantial contribution to Google’s worldwide operations. Google India, with offices in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, and Mumbai, provides the company with local support and representation in the country.
In conversation with exchange4media, Anandan speaks about the evolving internet landscape in India, Google’s contribution to growth of digital in India, bringing about a social change and more…
How has the internet landscape changed in India over the years?
The growth of Google has been parallel to the growth of internet in India. It took 10 years for the internet to go from a 10 million users to a 100 million users. When I joined in 2011, we had just crossed the 100-million benchmark and then India went from 100 million users to 200 million users in just three years. As we stand in the middle of 2014, India is heading to about 4.5 million new internet users a month. So, the growth of internet users has been drastic in the last few years.
Another development has been the rapid emergence of mobile. Three years ago, there were a few smart-phone users, but by the end of 2013, India had 17 million smart-phone users and by the end of 2014, the number is expected to go up to 100 million. So, essentially we will be growing from a non-smart-phone market to a 100 million smart-phone users.
Yet another perceivable change is the growth of videos; YouTube, which had 10-12 million users, now has around 60 million users. Online branding and a boom in e-commerce are also evident. Flipkart is almost five years old now. Brands were never launched online, but today we have Moto G, the most successful smart-phone launch in the history of India. E-commerce has finally arrived and digital advertising which was niche and small is now beginning to expand. The advertising spends on digital have increased from 2 per cent in 2010 to 6 per cent in 2013 and to 8 per cent in 2014. So, digital advertising spends have increased by 350 per cent.
How has Google grown and how has it contributed to the growth?
In terms of our growth, Android has been a great success in India. It is doing well in the smart-phone market and India is the fastest growing smart-phone market in the world. YouTube has really flourished and online videos are doing well in India.
We have gone from having business which was centered around performance clients like online travel or job listing and so on to a rapidly growing Small and Medium Business (SMB) segment. The overall advertising industry in India is very small. As per GroupM, the total advertising revenue is $7 billion, while China’s digital advertising industry is $14 billion, and the US advertising industry is $200 billion. In India, digital advertising is not about taking share of print or television, it’s about the growth of overall advertising industry.
One of the key focus areas for Google is establishing digital as a brand building medium. People perceive digital as a performance based medium. Online platforms like YouTube can significantly impact brand matrix by delivering significant reach. So, establishing digital as a brand building medium is a huge priority for us.
We want to work with brands, help them understand and leverage the multi-screen phenomenon. 100 per cent growth in the internet in India is coming from mobile. Today, there are a large number of internet users who only have a mobile device. So, how do brands ensure that they leverage this phenomenon of a large number of people having only a mobile device? To ensure that they have mobile configured assets, they have apps and they also need to learn the mobile advertising medium. Half the users from the 200 million internet users access internet only through mobile phones.
What are the various tools that Google is offering to marketers?
First thing to keep in mind is that digital is very measurable medium. Marketing channels consists of consideration, awareness, sales and loyalty. Digital started off focused on one part of sales which is to help generate leads. Now, digital is able to impact the whole marketing channels, to measure the incremental reach that digital platforms are able to deliver compared to other media. Then there is consideration or engagement. Besides measuring how digital moves your brand matrix at campaign level, we can also help you understand how the performance of moving KPIs compared against what other media can do. For sales, we have advanced Google analytics and we trace the number of visitors on the website, their activity conversions and so on. But now we have a whole set of new tools; for instance if someone visits a mobile site, we can trace what they did after they left that mobile site. Someone visits your mobile site and also does a transaction on the desktop. So that’s cost device measurement and we have very powerful tools for that.
What significant role did Google play in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections?
Internet had an impact on urban India in the 2014 elections, while in 2019 it will be the whole of India and not just urban India. Out of 200 million internet users, 150 million are urban. From the given figure, only 100 million vote. So, 100 million people from a population of 600 million voting is not massive. Hence, these elections were not really social media elections. Our role is very simple. We want to make internet useful to users, to businesses, so you see a lot of different things being done to make the internet useful. Almost every political party has a useful YouTube channel.
What are the basic differences in working with Google and Microsoft or Dell?
These are global brands and they all have done well and are large businesses. In many ways they are very similar in terms of work ethics, very focused, have a lot of institutions, very well organized., and at the same time they are very different. Google is in the business of internet and we are a consumer focus company, while Microsoft is largely an enterprise focused company and is in the business of software and similarly Dell is a hardware company. For us, being a consumer focused company innovation is more important. Speed becomes more important and the ability to think big is even more important. A culture is everything for a company. Companies are really about cultures. You can’t tell your employees to perform, you have to inspire them to perform. You have to hire people who are inspired and want to do good things and their objectives are very aspirational and give them the empowerment. At Google, we have a very empowering culture. One of the worst things you can do at Google is to micromanage work . We do not like micromanaging employees, we like to empower them.
Can you now say that Google has started playing an important role in India in bringing about a social change?
Our belief is that Internet can make the world a better place. In India we certainly believe that internet can dramatically improve many aspects of the consumer’s life or business future.
IITs have now a channel online, where every single course which is taught in IIT Chennai is on YouTube. India has 4 million engineering students. Imagine if every engineering student could go to IIT. It will improve the quality of engineers in the country.
Most of the Indians do not have enough access to even healthcare. We don’t have enough doctors and hospitals. Imagine what internet can do in terms of information and also in terms of businesses that can be built for rural health care. Imagine if every farmer has access to all the weather information on his fingertips. Whatever area it is, we think that internet will have a significant impact. A small business that is on internet grows 50 per cent faster than a small business that is not on internet.