A joint IAMAI and IMRB International study says that local language content will lead to 39 per cent increase in internet users while digital ad spends on it would constitute nearly 5 per cent of the total digital ad spends. This is further expected to increase to 30 per cent of all digital ad spends by 2020.
According to the report, the overall digital advertising spends in India will be Rs 3,575 crores by the end of December 2015.
The study, titled ‘Internet in Local Language’ said that rural India would be the primary driver of this growth (75 per cent), while in urban India, the growth would be 16 per cent.
The report finds that the local language user base is growing at 47 per cent Y-o-Y to reach 127 million in June 2015. Communication, social networking and entertainment are some of the primary reasons people access the Internet. The report finds that majority of the urban India users like to access Internet for communication whereas the rural India users access internet for entertainment.
Content providers are already gearing up for the rapid expansion in demand for regional content. For example, start-up Way2News, owned by internet company Way2Online recently launched a mobile app that caters exclusively to regional content. Currently it dishes out news in English, Hindi and Telugu. Raju Vanapala, Founder and CEO of Way2Online, says he expects to see over 5 million users on the app by the end of the year, which gives some indication of the demand.
“Seven out of ten apps are in regional languages. Two years back it would have been the reverse. The space is so big that one can easily accommodate 2-3 big players,” he told us. Way2news is also planning to expand to 8 more local languages, including Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, etc.
Similarly, in an earlier interview, Parry Ravindranathan, MD of Bloomberg Media (Asia Pacific), had also agreed that local and regional content would be a big opportunity in a country like India. “Regional language content is a gigantic opportunity, especially when it comes to business content in local languages,” he had opined.
For Mitrajit Bhattacharya, President & Publisher at Chitralekha Group, the difference between English and regional publications lies in where they lie on the growth curve. “Digitally, English has been growing for the past five years but regional content has just started seeing growth, so they (regional publishers) are on the right side of the growth curve. The way regional content is have started getting eyeballs is remarkable,” he added.
And both digital and print can survive and thrive in this new era, says Bhattacharya. “For the next 10 years regional players will definitely see growth, which will be coming from the bottom-up but also from digital. It is a robust model and advertiser interest in regional content has definitely increased,” he told us.