Home >Industry >Advertising >Twitter looks to expand its online advertising base in India
According to a study on the Indian media and entertainment industry by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and KPMG, the Indian online advertising market stood at `2,000 crore in 2012, and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 32% to `7,400 crore in 2017. Photo: Mint (Mint)
According to a study on the Indian media and entertainment industry by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and KPMG, the Indian online advertising market stood at `2,000 crore in 2012, and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 32% to `7,400 crore in 2017. Photo: Mint
(Mint)

Twitter looks to expand its online advertising base in India

Twitter eyes newer revenue streams to reach its 2014 global sales target of $1 billion

Bangalore: The Indian online advertising landscape is set to witness more intense competition in the near term with the entry of the world’s biggest microblogging website Twitter Inc. into a market dominated by the world’s largest search engine Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

Twitter, which hired Rishi Jaitly in November last year to lead the company’s efforts in setting up a base in India, is in the process of putting together a bigger team that will focus on key partnerships with television channels, network carriers and operators, as the San Francisco-based microblogging site looks to tap into newer revenue streams to reach its 2014 global sales target of $1 billion. Jaitly is a former head of public and private partnerships at Google India.

Twitter is looking at India as a lucrative market for online advertising, with the country’s rapidly increasing population of Internet users, as well as users of the microblogging website. India currently has nearly 20 million Twitter users, according to a joint study by market research firm IMRB International and the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

“On Twitter, we have conversations between the Planning Commission and citizens or celebrities and celebrities…or IPL teams talking to another IPL team on Twitter. It’s important to think of conversation as our product," said Jaitly, India market director at Twitter, during an all-day social media conference in Bangalore.

Jaitly, who used to assist chairman Eric Schmidt in communications and special projects during his stint at Google, added that another focus area for Twitter in India would be to target the country’s rapidly developing start-up ecosystem.

“Media companies around the world are doing really interesting things using Twitter. One of the things we would really like to work on is nurturing an ecosystem of entrepreneurs who are really interested in innovating on top of Twitter data," said Jaitly, citing the example of Bangalore-based media start-up Frrole, which has designed a social media online newspaper using Twitter data and news feeds.

According to a study on the Indian media and entertainment industry by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and KPMG, the Indian online advertising market stood at 2,000 crore in 2012, and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 32% to 7,400 crore in 2017.

Google, which runs the popular advertising platform for brands known as AdWords, currently dominates the online digital advertising market in India with a majority share, followed by Facebook, according to several experts tracking the sector and media buyer estimates. Google is currently projected to control about a third of the digital advertising market this year, according to eMarketer Inc. Exact figures on the market share of Google and Facebook in India could not be verified.

“Google leads the digital ad market by a huge margin followed by Facebook. Twitter is not amongst the top line-up as of now," said Praseed Prasad, national director (digital trading), GroupM, a media buying agency.

Several experts tracking the sector said India, which has an Internet user base of nearly 150 million, presented a huge opportunity for a company such as Twitter, despite the presence of the likes of Google and Facebook.

“Our broadband connectivity, our Internet penetration is still at very low levels. From a macro standpoint, there is a lot of headroom for growth," said Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment at KPMG India.

“It’s not different from what we saw in the US where Google was already dominant when Facebook really became popular. The fact that Google is dominant in India doesn’t really bother Facebook or Twitter in that sense. Advertising follows users—there are huge user populations on both Facebook and Twitter. The market is large enough and growing for a number of players to have room to play," added Thakkar.

Twitter, which has already worked with UTV and Star TV in India where they co-promoted the trademark Twitter hashtags on the channels, is looking to sign more partnerships with television channels, network carriers and operators, and also manage its existing partnerships with high-profile sportsmen and athletes in the country who are verified users on the site, such as Sachin Tendulkar, Mahesh Bhupathi, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Saina Nehwal.

Twitter also created a special page during the recently concluded Indian Premier League and the Karnataka elections, where people could track results and updates using the hashtag.

According to its jobs page, it is looking to hire a partnership manager for sports and a manager for TV partnerships in the country.

“There is the display side of advertising that is growing much faster right now that is brand advertising. There are a large number of brands that are coming online or have come online in the last six-nine months and they are starting to spend significant amounts of their marketing spends online," said Kedar Gavane, head of Comscore, a digital marketing agency.

“The Indian market is a significantly large market compared to many other global markets in absolute numbers. In terms of absolute usage, online advertising is pretty big in India—so it’s an intelligent market for any global advertising company to be in India at this point in time," he added.

According to experts tracking the online digital advertising space, Twitter might initially struggle to compete against the likes of established players in the market such as Google and Facebook.

“Google and Facebook came into India much earlier...so Twitter needs to work harder in attracting more advertisers and users," said Karthik Srinivasan, national lead of social media at Ogilvy & Mather.

The upcoming 2014 general elections will be a huge opportunity and crucial for Google, Facebook and Twitter in terms of gaining market share in the online ad space, added Srinivasan.

Vidhi Choudhary in New Delhi contributed to this story.

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