Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Opinion | Video sets spurs to vernacular in social media

As more Indians continue to come online, India will become an essential player on the global digital stage sooner rather than later

Earlier this year, India crossed the 400 million mark in terms of internet users, making India the largest online market today, second only to China. The growing availability of and accessibility to the internet has given rise to low-cost smartphones and dirt-cheap internet data. Easy access to the internet has also resulted in India having the highest amount of data consumption in the world. Driven by the government’s support for digital initiatives, this growth is not just exclusive to the urban city areas.

There is a significant growth in the rural areas, too, with content consumption in tier I and tier II cities increasing, and, sometimes, exceeding the content consumption in the metros. Like what is happening globally, India is being set up for a digital transformation in the next few years. India, along with most Asian nations, has overtaken other developed countries in accepting mobile technology. So what are the accompanying trends we can expect to see in 2019?

Video is king: Video has been gaining popularity over the years for the right reasons. With a reach like no other, the medium is easy to consume. It is not restricted to only the educated population but can also be viewed across most age groups. It is the preferred choice for mobile-device users. A recent study by Google found that approximately 40% of millennials consider video to be a trusted source. All these developments signify the popularity of video as the entry point for many new digital users in India. A recent Ficci-EY report forecast that India is expected to become the second-largest online video-viewing audience globally by 2020. The total number of online video consumers is estimated to reach 500 million by 2020.

According to a Cisco 2017 report, video content is projected to account for 76% of all online traffic in India by 2021. India will generate 84 billion Internet video minutes per month by 2021, which equals to 160,000 years of video per month. Overall, there are only 180 million TV sets in India (50%+ are CRT) and the mobile is becoming the new platform for consumption, a.k.a video consumption across news and entertainment. We can expect to see it play a significant role going ahead.

Content is primarily vernacular: Vernacular content is critical in bringing in users who do not know English. It has the highest audience in tier I and tier II cities. Today, no brand can afford to ignore the rising voice of the native digital consumer on the internet. Both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have been focusing on localisation through language subtitles apart from continuously introducing niche content driven shows in regional languages. India’s varied regional print publications, hugely popular entertainment TV channels, coupled with the entry of a flurry of over-the-top (OTT) platforms catering to diverse local language content in various genres, have demonstrated that the audience wants to consume media in their preferred language. Companies around the world should sit up and take note of this phenomena.

Social media is trending: Today, we see a deep integration of social media into all services. The trend will only increase exponentially, and social platforms will become even more integrated with other services. As many as 90% of apps may start to share all user data with their audiences. They will also provide a seamless experience across third-party apps. However, we need to be careful of the growing menace of fake news.

In the past few years, we have also seen live video and influencer marketing rise in popularity. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram’s live video services made waves in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Digital sharing and storytelling of user’s life and movements will increase in 2019. Another driving force behind social media will be the integration of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. We can expect to see an increase in the use of chatbots.

With all these technologies becoming an intrinsic part of the social media strategy employed by all brands/internet businesses, the future looks promising. As more Indians continue to come online, India will become an essential player on the global digital stage sooner rather than later.

Umang Bedi is president at Dailyhunt