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Regional Mobile-first Content ‘Destination Now’ For Brands?

If one looks at broadcast media, English channels are still considered niche, and most brands have way higher spends on language channels than on English ones. However, Internet arrived in India in English language, and initially saw massive growth in larger cities and metros. With the rapid growth in Hindi and regional language content on Internet, the game is changing.

A Google and KPMG India report published in April 2017, Indian language Internet users far outnumbered English language users (234 million to 175 million in 2016). The study also stated that in five years from 2016 to 2021, ten out of nine new Internet users would consume the Net in Indian languages. Out of these, close to 201 million of 38% of Indian Internet user base would consume Net in Hindi. It states that Marathi, Bengali, and Tamil would follow, capturing 9%, 8%, and 6% of the user base respectively.

No wonder Facebook supports 13 local languages and Google too is not far behind. Most of its apps on android phones now support regional Indian languages. Microsoft’s acquisition of Swiftkey, the iOS and Android keyboard app that offers predictive texting in 24 Indian languages too is a step in this direction.

Coming to Indian start-ups, localised services in Indian languages are being created to connect with consumers better. 

An AIMAI and Kantar IMRB, Internet in India 2017 report also presents a similar perspective. It states that Internet might be used by 205 million Indians if it can be accessed in language of their choice.

As per a Daily Hunt Study, 99% of Indians who use Internet in Hindi and regional languages access Internet on their mobiles. Hence, most of the Internet growth story would come from Mobile. No wonder, home grown mobile brands like Micromax have introduced a slew of models with language support.

Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO, Sakal Media Group expresses, “Mobile is definitely playing a role in enabling growth of regional content as share of eyeballs is moving that way very rapidly. The near instant as well as audiovisual nature of content makes it more appealing not just for millennials but also for audiences across demographics and geographies.”

As to what are the key benefits of connecting with consumers in their own language Rohan Chincholi, Head of Media and Business Head - Mumbai and Bangalore, Havas Media India expresses, “One of the ways of establishing a strong emotional connect with consumers is to talk to them in their language. It aids in better storytelling, breaks some clutter from the monotonous English and dominated Hindi coverage and helps the audience register the brand story faster. Is it not natural to us to converse in a language of choice? We are expressive and can share and hold a conversation longer. Personalization of content/communication is the need of the hour and technology is helping us achieve the same with minimum spillover. If brands talk to us in a way, we understand best, we have even added to media efficiencies.”

It is not only the humongous growth in Internet being consumed in regional languages but also the connect that user feels when they are accessing content in their own language that has led to the growth of language content in India. Chincholi expresses, “I do see that brands are increasing talking content and the need to invest in the same with multiple languages.” He believes that there are learnings from broadcast media that are equally true when serving content on mobile. He explains, “Just recently I did a campaign where the brand had TVC’s in regional languages catering to specific parts of India. The VTR was higher for Gujrati & Telugu creative as compared to Hindi, tends to make us believe that not all markets are responsive to only Hindi/ English.”

Dwivedi presents a similar perspective, “Ease of comprehension, affinity, and credibility, as well as long term stickiness, all get enhanced when content is in the consumer’s own language.”

As most of these users are accessing Net on their mobiles, mobile first content and marketing are set to gain momentum. Dwivedi agrees, “Absolutely, they are leading the pack anyways, either directly or through aggregators or distribution partners like DailyHunt. We should see a growth rate in excess to 30% CAGR per annum, or maybe more.”

Brands expect both tangible and intangible benefits by being the storytellers in regional mobile space, as it not only offers huge numbers but also a consumer connect like none other. This, in turn, has led to content providers trying their best to keep the consumers engaged in their mobiles. Chincholi expresses “New content consumers and creators are both being added every month. As per a report by TRAI, March 2017, BCG CCI Digital Influence Study, 2017 >50% of India’s internet growth in the next 3-4 years is expected to come from rural India. If brands want to reach out to these audiences then what better way than regional content? In 2017, Hindi and regional languages comprised more than 90% of popular videos watched online according to an Industry report.”

What is more, the Government’s mandate to add local language support in the mobile devices, would soon see all smartphones, feature phones, etc. support display of content in all Indian languages and provide input capability for three – Hindi, English and regional language of the user’s choice. Another big boost for regional language consumption on mobile.

Reasonably priced, regional languages supporting mobile handsets and cheap access to Net on them have changed the way Internet is consumed in India. We are increasingly moving from a ‘buffering’ Internet country to a mobile first Internet consumption pattern. Mobile has definitely emerged as the centerpiece of multiplatform experience. This and more at TMMS 2018.

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