Digital is mainstream: Rajan Anandan, Google

Rajan Anandan, Vice President, Google India and South East Asia was in Mumbai to deliver the annual Subhas Ghosal Memorial Lecture, organised by the Advertising Agencies Association of India and Subhas Ghosal Foundation

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 21, 2018 8:58 AM

The profile of the internet user is dramatically changing from ‘metro, male, millennial’ to include more women. “By 2020, 45 per cent of all internet users is expected to be women. There has been a 4X growth in rural users since 2012,” said Rajan Anandan, Vice President, Google India and South East Asia, speaking about The New Internet User in Mumbai on Thursday. Anandan was delivering the annual Subhas Ghosal Memorial Lecture on the invitation of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and Subhas Ghosal Foundation (SGF).

Giving out stats and figures about the changing internet landscape in India as he addressed a room full of advertising veterans, Anandan said that voice, vernacular and video are defining the evolution of internet in India. Anandan noted that of the 390 mn internet users in India, 330 mn (around 80%) access the internet on their mobiles. This number is expected to grow to 500 mn by 2020.

At present, nearly 95 per cent of all video consumption in happening in Indian languages. Anandan pointed out that new Indian users who are coming online for the first time are Indic language users. He said that by 2020, 400mn of the 650mn using Indic languages - 62 per cent users will use the internet in Hindi and other Indian languages. Currently, 200mn of the 390mn Indian internet users are Indic language users. “There has been a 10X growth in local language queries over last 18 months,” Anandan noted.

He said that the trend of using voice on the internet has been a rather surprising development. The industry has seen a 270% growth in voice search and 400% growth in Hindi voice search. He said that new internet users are more comfortable with speaking to the internet, therefore companies need to start thinking about building products with a voice-first approach.

At a time when ad spends on digital are growing at 30% CAGR, television is still the mass reach medium for advertisers. He said that with YouTube’s 245 mn MAUs (monthly active users) the reach of the video streaming site far exceeds the reach of any TV channel. “Digital is mainstream in India,” he announced as he gave out more numbers.

The digital explosion has surely made life more convenient, be that ordering food home, or booking a taxi, and why even getting groceries delivered home, but digital can do a lot more than that, Anandan pointed out. He said that Indians in rural India who spend nearly 35-40 per cent of their income on medical expenses are the ones that need the internet more than the urban/metro folk. With more connected users coming online, Indian entrepreneurs need to be solving real problems of real India. He cited the examples of start-ups Niramai, Sig-Tuple which are revolutionising the medical diagnostics space in India. “As the new internet users comes online and get connected, we are going to start seeing some incredible things that you can do to solve their real needs,” he concluded.

While it was an evening of new learnings from Anandan, it was also an evening to remember and celebrate the great doyen of advertising - Subhas Ghosal. This year Ivan Arthur, who was groomed by Ghosal,  went down memory lane as a tribute to his mentor. Arthur delivered a poetic remembrance that gave the audience, who had not had the good fortune of knowing Ghosal, a little taste of what it was like to work with and learn from the legend. Arthur brought Ghosal alive, even if for just a few minutes, and inspired the room to aim higher and seek perfection.

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