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No medium can evolve without talking the native language: Sunil Kataria

10-September-2018
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No medium can evolve without talking the native language: Sunil Kataria

“No medium can actually evolve without talking and being distributed in the native language. Two large mediums in India - Print and TV - have grown on the back of regional content,” said Sunil Kataria CEO, India & SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products Limited, on Friday as part of his keynote address at the second edition of exchange4media's Content JAM. Kataria was addressing a room full of eager learners on the topic of ‘Rise of Regional Content to Realise Dream Digital India.’

“Nearly 90 per cent of the print industry in India is regional. In the case of television, English channels contribute less than 4 per cent of the TV watch time. He demonstrated through data that the history of the two large mediums tells us that a medium has to speak the native tongue to really achieve scale.”

Strangely though, digital alone has evolved through non-native language first and is now taking the regional route. “Nine out of 10 internet users who are online in India use indic languages. Regional content is driving consumption,” Kataria pointed out.

Because of cheaper data costs, deeper penetration of feature phones and the easy access to internet, Kataria felt that going regional on digital is crucial to the growth of the platform and brands on the platform. He shared insights on how brands can leverage digital for regional.

Kataria said that the greatest insight about how people use regional language search is that people search for things online just like they talk about those things. “People do not search for ‘uttam bima’ online, they instead write ‘best insurance’ in their regional language in the search bar,” he pointed out. Therefore, he said that brands need to be prepared for conversation keywords or natural language search.

Ad creatives tend to be made in one language with one generic creative or photograph, but that trend has to stop, Kataria said. “You cannot afford to have copy translations for regional content,” he said. “The days of a master Hindi copy or English copy getting a language edit are gone. We are in the time of creating ‘language masters’. Brands need to have multiple language masters.” He said that one way to create such regional content could be to work with local freelancers who are connected to the region they represent.

One of the main insights that Kataria shared was that marketers could explore digital audio as the next big content domain. He pointed out that feature phones have greater penetration outside urban cities in India where smartphones are yet to be adopted. “Therefore, digital audio in regional language can take off much faster in India. And digital audio also works for urban and metro audiences who may use it as companion audio while walking, traveling, or working out.”

Kataria said that brands should choose content-led targeting for regional audiences. But with that comes the main challenges of making regional content sitting in Mumbai and Delhi. The other main challenge is that of measurement of digital in India. He said that while the industry is talking about the next big wave of digital and regional, we badly need a measurement tool like EKAM (proposed by BARC) to study and build on the trends.

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