The 5 factors that will fuel India’s digital growth in 2019

With the digital advertising market in India expected to have grown 30% last year, there’s no denying that 2018 was a year of strong growth for digital. But is there a possibility that this growth could have been amplified even further? After all, in anticipation of an eventful 2019, there is a possibility that some advertisers might have held off on their budgets, such that, all things considered, 2018 could almost have been said to be a slow-moving year. 

However, that’s all about to change as we hurtle into the new year. Sandeep Balani, Head of India, Outbrain, shares 5 key trends that will dominate India’s digital growth in 2019: 

  1. Growth in news consumption thanks to the Lok Sabha Elections: The Indian general elections are about to be held in 2019 and no matter the outcome, it definitely is good news for publishers in India, as news consumption will see exponential growth during these months. This will be further fueled by the many state elections due to take place concurrently. At the same time, as the Indian user is increasingly consuming all sorts of content on digital platforms, including the news, any growth in consumption of news is likely to translate to a boost in page views for publishers to monetise. The upshot is that we can expect to see a lot more ad dollars flowing to online platforms. 
  1. Widespread adoption and growth of OTT – fueled by a love for cricket: In cricket-crazy India, 2019 is set to be a thrilling year. An event that could almost be considered as monumental as the General Elections themselves is the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, taking place around May to July this year, following swiftly on the heels of the Indian Premier League 2019. With these events being eagerly awaited and avidly followed throughout the country, we can expect this to pull a hefty amount of budget from advertisers. The biggest winners here? Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms – as it is, India is already poised to rank among the top ten OTT video markets in four years.

    Indeed, this is symptomatic of a wider trend for 2019, in which we’re seeing OTT platforms continue to grow in popularity, as Indian users migrate away from Direct to Home (DTH). This year, local platforms like Hotstar, ZEE5 and Eros Now will continue to expand, with a stronger focus on regional content. For these players, content will definitely be king and the fight will only intensify in 2019. 
  1. Surge in digital content consumptionamidst low data tariffs: In recent years, data tariffs in India have plummeted steadily. In fact, last year, it was revealed that data tariffs had plunged by 93% in the preceding three years – nor are they expected to increase anytime soon. Alongside this, digital adoption will only continue to grow, especially as internet usage and mobile penetration soars to even greater heights – data usage per user surged by over 25 times in the same period the drastic 93 per cent plunge in tariffs was observed, while the number of mobile internet users was projected to swell to 478 million by mid-2018. As a result, we can expect content consumption via digital platforms to keep growing well into 2019. 
  1. Scaling of native ad spend: As advertisers continue to find ways to diversify spends away from the Google-Facebook digital duopoly, we can expect native to enjoy a good share of those budgets. This is especially since, as mentioned, digital content consumption is poised to soar in 2019. To take advantage of this, advertisers will increasingly be looking to native to scale their spend in an uninterruptive way that does not irritate or annoy users, leading ultimately to an exponential growth in India’s overall digital ad spend. 
  1. The unstoppable rise of video: In the past few years, video has been on an upswing, and in a very big way. Just last year, it was found that online video consumption in India had grown by almost five times, while a separate study at the end of 2018 revealed that Indian users are viewing 190 minutes of video per user per day across different platforms. As a result, in 2019, video advertising can be expected to gain a higher share of the overall growth. Additionally, this growth would take place across various platforms – at the moment, more than 30 digital platforms exist in India, alongside many TV channels, with the average Indian user consuming 10-15 channels per day and 2-3 applications each month.

    Of course, with so much video content jostling for eyeballs, there needs to be a way to make video advertising more effective – especially since we find ourselves in a market where a high stimulation threshold and the dominance of a push advertising model has effectively led to video advertising blindness. Thankfully, we are seeing new innovations in video being rolled out by the industry, such as Outbrain’s FOCUS. Combining a click-to-watch format, sophisticated targeting and engaging long-form video formats conducive for deeper storytelling, it ensures that video content is not forced on the viewer, but rather, chosen by them.

Clearly, if these 5 trends are anything to go by, 2019 is going to a very exciting year for the Indian digital landscape. Indeed, this comes not a moment too soon, especially if India is to realise its vision of becoming a trillion dollar digital economy in the next few years.


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