The big mobile marketing trends of 2019: Priyanka Shah

Guest Column: Priyanka Shah, Senior Director, Mobile Isobar, says that Voice, Video and Vernacular will dominate the near future of mobile marketing

e4m by Priyanka Shah
Updated: Dec 6, 2018 8:27 AM

The number of mobile internet users in India is estimated to touch 478 million by June 2018, buoyed by cheaper smartphones, faster connectivity and affordable services, according to an IAMAI report. The report forecast that given a 59 per cent penetration, urban India is expected to witness a slowdown, while rural India, with only 18 per cent mobile internet penetration, would emerge as the next area of growth.

The voice-related mobile spends have been coming down since 2013, and the popularity of Voice over IP (VoIP) and video chatting has further amplified this trend. This, in turn, led to a rise in the proportion of data expenditure in comparison to voice expenditures for most users. Between 2013 and 2017, the ratio of data to voice went up from 45:55 to 84:16, as per the IAMAI report. With Jio disrupting the market and semi-urban and rural India being the clear focus, Voice, Video and Vernacular are the clear three trends that will dominate the near future of mobile marketing.

Voice has been emerging as the preferred mode of use for new internet users. We’re seeing major growth of voice queries in India. Furthermore, online video now accounts for 75 per cent of all mobile traffic. And as for vernacular, the majority of the internet users today are Indian language users, a number expected to reach 500 million plus in the next two years. Further, 95 per cent of video consumption is in vernacular languages. As per Google, 9 out of 10 internet users in the next five years are likely to be Indian language users. And 88 per cent people are more likely to respond to digital ads in their own language.

Low cost of smartphones and data, the rise of Jio, the government’s push for digital adoption as well as other factors have accelerated the transitioning from feature phones to smartphones in India.

Key Trends of 2019

Vernacular Conversation

The attenuating share of English on one hand and increased internet penetration in Hindi speaking markets or regional language markets clearly indicate that regional language internet users are poised to drive the next phase of internet adoption in India. This will be as much as 2.5 times more than that of English internet user base by 2021, as per Deloitte India eighth edition report on technology, media and telecommunications released in January this year.

In fact, by 2021, over 201 million Hindi users, who form 38 per cent of the Indian internet user base, are expected to be online. Nearly 90 per cent of them are more likely to respond to a digital advertisement in their local language as compared to English ads.

To put it simply, vernacular conversation is essentially about an overarching trend that implies that a large majority of brands in India are focusing on mobile ads in the local language to communicate with their audience.


By 2020, 50 per cent of the searches would be voice searches with semantic search for better understanding the queries. Smart sSpeakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod have become increasingly popular with consumers. In fact, 65 per cent of consumers say they wouldn’t go back to life without their voice-controlled assistant.

We will likely see more online publishers embrace voice and publish audio content to these devices in an effort to land a spot on the listener’s ‘Flash Briefing’. Also, we will likely see Amazon, Google and Apple monetize their content by allowing companies to buy and sell ad space. Jio will be a game changer in India with its vernacular voice interpretation capabilities customized to Indian markets.

Video viewership and domination of regional language video user base

Be it Facebook, Twitter or any other social media channel, you can barely scroll through your feed without viewing at least one video. As per KPMG report, 80 per cent of global Internet consumption will be video content by 2019. More importantly, video viewership in India, dominated by the regional language user base, is expected to catapult even further. Consumers today spend about 50 to 60 per cent of the average time on Hindi videos, followed closely by 35 to 43 per cent on regional content videos and only 5 to 7 per cent on English.

The format of the video will continue to evolve with mobile as a priority, and brands need to embrace the changing landscape. Better connection speeds allow for more quality content and interactive elements, something that is unique to mobile video. Marketers are now trying newer forms of videos like vertical videos, hotspot videos, videos with shoppable links etc to lure the audience.

Dominancy in AR/VR

Mobile devices can now be converted to devices which provide virtual and augmented reality experience thus making advertising more immersive. Various retail, travel and automobile brands are experimenting with them to wow their audience.

Live Streaming

By 2019, about 78 per cent of world’s mobile data traffic will be from this domain. Users spend about 3X more on live video content v/s static content as per Facebook


Podcasts are episodic series of digital audio files which a user can subscribe to and deals with topics that range from music and books to health. Touted as the new radio of the millennial era, the last one year has witnessed dozens of podcast shows springing up in different cities with localized content in India.

Podcasting as a platform helps brands to create connect with their audiences and also to build brand stories. Brands engage with their audiences using podcasting by:

  • Advertising on a podcast with a brand story
  • Creating integrated native content in a show
  • Developing advertiser-funded programming

The Indian podcast scene has a handful of notable players – Audiomatic, India’s first podcast network launched in 2015, and Indus Vox Media. Even digital music offerings like Saavn, Gaana and Hungama have joined the bandwagon with their original programming line-ups.

Mobile Gaming

As per Kantar IMRB report, 50 per cent of smartphone users play mobile games and average time spent on mobile gaming is more than one hour daily. There are 250Mn+ mobile gamers in India and the number is expected to grow to 368Mn in 2022. A total of 48 per cent of gamers are females and 55 per cent are moms. And 1/3rd of gamers are 35+ in age.

Given the dramatic shift towards the way consumers are engaging in mobile media and gaming, in particular, it is very imperative to leverage the opportunities within gaming for brands. E-commerce, FMCG, automobile, telecom, and banking are the top categories whose ads were recalled by gamers

Location-based advertising

With location-based messaging, brands can reach out to consumers while they’re near their products in the shopping aisle. This location-based messaging allows brands to offer deals and events based on the consumer’s area, creating a targeted experience.

Prominent AI

Personalisation of information by helping brands cater to consumers in a much more involved manner will revolutionize marketing by 2020. Tractica Project research predicts a virtual digital assistant will be on 3.3Bn devices by 2020


Progressive Web Apps (PWA) is an emerging technology which is the next big thing for mobile. By 2020, PWA will have replaced 50 per cent of APPs.

2018 is coming to end and it is time to shed old techniques of planning and strategy in favour of a multi-screen planning approach that would bring incremental results. Those businesses that will tell unique stories and provide jaw-dropping experiences to the target customers are bound to leap ahead in their game. You have to watch for the latest features of the key digital marketing platforms and create personalised and innovative campaigns for your audience.


(The author is Senior Director, Mobile Isobar)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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