Internet giant Google Inc. has said its focus in India, its second largest market by the number of people who use the search engine, will increasingly focus on local Web search, spatial search such as maps, and queries based on mobile phones, besides ratcheting up visibility of its social networking site Orkut here.
Relevant strategy: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president, Asia Pacific and Latin America, Google. Photographer: Ramesh Pathania / Mint
“Staying focused around the core of search is very important for us here and we will invest more deeply in search that is more relevant locally, whether defined by Indian languages or by a better map experience,” said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president, Asia Pacific and Latin America, Google. “We recognize that mobile is the next touchdown for India. You will start to see investments in the mobile search area.”
India currently has almost 200 million mobile phone customers, for many of whom the cellphone is the first interface with a computing device. Google has launched a number of mobile-based technologies in the recent past, including the short message service, or SMS, search allowing the user to text message a search query to a five-digit number. The Internet firm also launched a platform that allows advertisers to receive prospective leads over the phone.
“Less than a month back, we launched voice-assistive local search in Hyderabad, where one dials into a toll free (number) to search for restaurants or movie halls in the neighbourhood. It is too early to talk about results, but this pilot is something to learn from,” Cassidy, who is visiting India from the Mountain View, California headquarters of Google, told Mint here. Orkut, which has a large following in India and Brazil, Cassidy said, would “be at the heart of our strategy in India and an asset that we will continue to invest in.”
More than 90% of Google’s revenues come from search advertising, and though India differs from the Western world in its developing electronic commerce market, the firm is keen to deepen its ad focus in the country. “On the ad side, we want to deepen our insight, which is mostly vertically driven, and invest in areas which have an industry focus. We want to extend our agency relationships. That’s a head strategy. On the tail, it is having the right local forms of payments,” Cassidy said.
The difference in ad patterns between the developed and the emerging worlds is the size of the overall online ad market. “That’s a function of where the Internet users are spending their time, and how developed the e-commerce market is. India’s e-commerce is less developed, but it is heading there,” Cassidy said.