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IndustrySpeak: Has Internet come of age in India? It’s a 100-mn question – Part 2

24-November-2009
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IndustrySpeak: Has Internet come of age in India? It’s a 100-mn question – Part 2

Continuing with the overview on the growth of Internet in India, the second part of the report looks at what Internet has to offer, whether it can take on television as a medium of communication, growing mobile penetration and infrastructure issues like broadband penetration, etc.

exchange4media.com spoke to a cross-section of industry players to find whether Internet in India come of age in the 10 years of its presence in the country and the road ahead.

What Internet has to offer

According to Amardeep Singh, Co-founder and VP, Interactive Avenues, “Over the last 10 years the response has only improved and this has reflected in the increase in ad spends over the years. Today the medium has reached a stage where it cannot be ignored by any advertiser. Internet as a medium is consumed by users actively unlike say radio or even some amount of television. Internet as a medium is consumed actively just like print but at the same time it can be demonstrative just like TV. So from a brand / marketers perspective it offers the best of both.”

Neville Taraporewalla, Director, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group, Microsoft India (Consumer and Online), noted, “I would like to see a brand launching its product on internet first. Somewhere down the line marketers need to realise that they have a medium here that gives them a pretty qualified and targeted audience however they have to experiment with the medium and unless they experiment they will miss the bus. There are so many things one can do on the web, Rich Media for instance provides a combination of pictures, it even allows audio- video all built into one, it even allows one to run video commercials across the sites within the advertising communication. As these youngsters finish schooling and colleges and when they come into the system and they take charge I believe we will see a significant shift of advertising dollar from other mediums to the digital medium which as of now is happening slower than expected.”

Faisal Farooqui, CEO, MouthShut.com, added here, “For brands and marketers Internet offers an anytime and anywhere type of marketing. It’s a very pull based ad- because internet is always around and can reach out 24x7 to the consumer with your brand communication. Therefore it is one medium that is very easy to use and secondly, it is very interactive. Internet is the only medium which is two way communications, thus one gets an immediate feedback. ROI in internet marketing is very high as compared to other mediums i.e. for a small amount one can reach a very large audience.”

Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media, noted, “The increasing growth of internet consumption in India has resulted in marketers using digital platforms for innovative marketing solutions. From one-to-many phenomena, communication today has moved to a one-on-one format. Here internet has played a key role in creating interaction between a brand and its consumers. Brands are able to enhance their offerings due to real time feedback facilitated by the various channels on the internet. This has been one of the key positives of the internet boom in India.”

‘Once Internet touches the 100-million mark, it will compete with television’

According to Prashant Mehta, COO, Komli Media, “Mobile is a big opportunity in the long term but, not in short term, there are lot of challenge in this space too. First of all, while there is a huge population of mobile in India, the percentage of Indians who have smart phone devices is still small. As companies invest in 3G, I believe we will see more interest in mobile but, will take a year to three years to gain more adoption of mobile platforms in India. In short term the single largest trend is advertising on social media which is going to change how companies big or small will interact with consumers because social media is no longer a small medium of a fabric. If you look at the top ten sites almost half of them are social media related sites. We will see social media play centre stage in India over the next two- three years after that you may see mobile also play a bigger role in India. We are seeing a very strong engagement among brands on the internet especially in social media.”

Adding to that Interactive Avenues’ Singh said, “Mobile will have a huge role to play in the growth of the internet in India. It will increase the time spent and hence consumption of internet. However as a medium to advertise it may not overtake the internet because mobile is currently a substitute for consumption of content available on the internet and also because mobile has its limitations like screen size and speed.”

“The internet will cross the 100 million mark by 2012, which is when it will seriously compete with TV, we’ve already seen signs of some advertisers shifting their print budgets to the internet and this trend is likely to increase. The total number of broadband subscribers is only around 7 million as per TRAI. An increase in this usage is going to drive the growth in Internet users as well as the overall user experience. This will also increase the video consumption on the internet which again will drive more advertisers to the internet,” he further said.

Internet on mobile

Roy of Hungama Digital Media said, “While mobile and broadband internet continue to co-exist, the penetration of inexpensive, GPRS enabled mobile phones in India is boosting the adoption of mobile internet. Telecom operators are also fuelling adoption by introducing attractive price points for GPRS access. All these factors will contribute to the growth of mobile internet over broadband in India, in near future. We believe that integrated platforms will be the highlight for the next couple of years. With multiple devices on which one can access internet, marketers will continue to explore interactive promotions.”

MouthShut.com’s Farooqui observed, “The demand for internet on mobile will only increase, in India we are waiting for 3G launch and as soon as 3G is launched in India there will be a huge jump in mobile internet usage. The biggest trend to watch out for is the democratization of media, which means, users taking control of what is said on the internet. With more and more people coming to the internet they are forming opinions of brands and this is one trend. Marketers and brands should take note of this as one negative opinion of a brand reaches out to many people.”

Taraporewalla said, “As broadband increases we will see some kind of convergence, online video will play a huge role however people will continue to search, we will see lot more qualified relevant results coming out to different products nevertheless we believe that there will be lot more multimedia based advertising on the internet. We have grown 22 per cent year on year but, I would like to see this growth by 50 per cent year on year.”

Within the Indian markets, the most basic challenges according to experts remain computer literacy and rural penetration. While the metros are equipped with these basics, the rural India is yet to experience the complete potential of the e-age in India. “Internet Ad spends had been growing around 50 per cent year on year before the slowdown happened during which it grew anywhere between 20 to 30 per cent whereas the spends on other media actually came down. The slowdown was a blessing for digital media because it made all advertisers evaluate digital media for brand building,” concluded Interactive Avenues’ Singh.

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