The growing internet penetration in India could further rise by 24 per cent if content is made available in local languages. This was revealed by a study titled ‘Local Language Study 2013’, published jointly by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International.
As per the study, 43 per cent of the non-users of internet in rural areas have said that they will adopt the medium if the content is provided in local languages. In urban areas, the same number stood at 13.5 per cent. The report identifies local language as the single largest driver of internet growth in rural areas. The findings of the report were based on a survey of 35 cities across seven states.
The report also points out that in rural India, entertainment, social networking and email remain the primary purpose of using online local language content. In urban India, email, news and search are the dominant activities online.
In rural India, 27 per cent of the users use Hindi to access online content, followed by Marathi and Tamil languages, while in urban India, 60 per cent of the users access online content in Hindi, followed by Tamil and Marathi languages.
Despite growing use of the internet, its penetration in the rural areas has remained slow mostly due to the slow spread of broadband services. Secondly, the lack of content in local languages is also proving to be a roadblock.
On the other hand, smartphones are proving to be an important tool for accessing the internet; thanks to the falling prices of smartphones, more and more people in the Tier III and IV towns as well as rural areas can now afford data-enabled phones. Thus, it has become pertinent to have content in local languages. However, restrictive monetisation of local language content is keeping marketers and brands venturing into this area.
It will be interesting to see how local language content is tapped by marketers as well as media in the coming days, since the potential and demand already exists.