In India, digital would mean more of mobile in 2016: Study

Number of active rural mobile Internet users grew about 99% to 80 million by October, and is expected to reach 87 million by December, according to a study


By the year-end, there will be 402 million Indians with access to the Internet, up from 375 million in October. Photo: Mint
By the year-end, there will be 402 million Indians with access to the Internet, up from 375 million in October. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Mobile phones—both feature phones and smartphones—have become the gateway to the Internet for most people of India, making it an important digital touchpoint for brands to expand their customer base, even in rural areas where television and other mass marketing channels have limited reach.

This trend will increase in 2016 as consumers brands are likely to go less active on mass marketing channels in their effort to “adopt digital for higher returns on their marketing investments,” says a joint report by Omnicom Media Group India and MICA (formerly Mudra Institute of Communications) released on Wednesday.

Omnicom Media is the media services division of global advertising and marketing company Omnicom Group Inc.

By the year-end, there will be 402 million Indians with access to the Internet, up from 375 million in October, according to a joint study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research firm IMRB International.

This makes India home to more Internet users that the US, and second only to China. Majority of these are on mobile, especially in the rural areas. Number of active rural mobile Internet users grew about 99% to 80 million by October, and is expected to reach 87 million by December, according to the IMAI-IMRB study.

Here are the top 10 trends that the Omnicom-MICA report predicts for 2016:

India gets Mobile-ized: Mobile first will be the way to go ahead in India because of its young population.

Commerce everywhere: This will mean better micro-segmentation and personalization as brands can better gauge the desires of each consumer by analyzing their online behaviour.

Story rises above the medium: For starters, it’s time that brands must have an always-on 2-screen experience strategy. A story that goes beyond the television commercial or print ad into the digital medium must become the norm. Digital ‘culture creators’ will be the new ‘brand ambassadors’ as brands will focus on made-for-web and integrated content.

Moment marketing breaks silos: Brands will need to drive collaboration by integrating cross functional teams that currently exist as silos, such as information technology, consumer research, customer relationship management, sales, e-commerce for sustainable business value.

Rise of OTT content: With the growing appetite for video content, over the top (OTT) service providers like Hotstar and SonyLiv are seeing rapid growth. The active OTT video subscriber base is expected to rise from the current 15 million to 105 million in 2020. Shift towards OTT content means that even marketers will shift their advertising spending onto digital.

Social moves into walled ecosystems: Brand conversations are less likely to be driven by a piece of advertising. Instead, brands need to show consumers authenticity and value to inspire peer-to-peer conversations held within chat apps.

Internet scales up from urban to rural: The rise of e-commerce, social media and smart education has already encouraged the rural consumer to go online. Disruption in traditional models of banking, insurance, and governance will promote will increase the relevance and penetration of Internet. A shift to a low-carbon economy, ways to connect farmers and ease of payments and business will mean that rural economy needs to be included and brands should prepare for this change.

Rise of vernacular content: With more than 65% of the population communicating in local languages, the need for local language content and services is rising. The growing penetration of mobile Internet in emerging markets will result in greater demand for vernacular content on the Internet. Today, 75% of online users in India prefer video content in their local languages and 40% of online traffic is for Hindi content. To remain authentic, relevant and conversational, brands will have to create vernacular content and engage with consumers in their native local languages on social media, websites and other owned media platforms.

Internet of Me: Brands can target individuals across their consumer journey programmatically with optimization and hyper-local targeting, showing them different messaging depending on attributes such as location, weather, device, local language or time of day.

Form vs Function in Wearables: As with intuitive technology, consumers are looking for a device that makes their lives easier, instead of being yet another aspect that demands their attention. Brands should place the consumer first and create a product that addresses real consumer needs - this may be something simple, but it will definitely be embraced by consumers.