Why Marketers Should Focus On Local Language Content

IAMAI stated that increase in online local language content will grow internet users. We look at various data points of the report and why local language content remains important for marketers

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Last year a joint study by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International predicted that regional language content availability can boost the growth of Internet in India by 24 percent. With the growing penetration of smartphones in the country, demand for regional content is still positive.

Earlier this year Vuclip, the leading premium mobile video on demand (VOD) service for emerging markets stated that 78% of Vuclip viewers in India have shown preference to watching content in their native language. Though movies and television shows account for around 80% of the International content consumed on the Vuclip platform.

These latest findings were a part of the Global Video Insights (GVI) by Vuclip – a survey it conducted in April 2015 of more than 8,500 users spanning the emerging markets of India, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. Videos in Hindi dominate the viewership traffic by 40% in India. Regional languages such as Tamil (8%), Telugu (6%), Bengali (4%) and Marathi (4%) are also seeing increased traction.

These findings got further crystalised when the IAMAI recently revealed that increase in online local language content will lead to an increase of 39 percent in the number of internet users. Titled ‘Internet in Local Language’, executed in collaboration with IMRB International, the report highlights that rural India will be the primary driver of this growth (75 percent), while in urban India, the growth will be 16 percent.

The report that showcases the information captured from various data sources in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 states India has 353 million Internet users as of June 2015. Out of this, 269 million access Internet at least once a month and the survey has been conducted among them.

The report finds that the local language user base is growing at 47 percent, YOY, and reached 127 million in June 2015.

The report further adds that communication, social networking and entertainment are the three primary reasons people access the internet. The report finds that majority of urban Indian users like to access internet for communication, whereas rural India users access internet for entertainment.

These consumption patterns are backed by the increasing growth of smartphones in the country and companies stressing on mobile first to mobile only approach. We have already seen companies like Myntra, Flipkart, Ola and now Faasos following the mobile only approach.

Outbrain’s content consumption report highlighted that 76% of Indians consume content from Android led smartphones. This isn’t surprising when 65% of India Internet traffic is dominated by Mobile as per the influential annual assessment of the Internet economy by Mary Meeker.

The IAMAI report also compared the medium with television which it said had on an average four out of five ads in local languages irrespective of the mode of the channel. Even the online channels like YouTube and online broadcasting sites are producing and disseminating the ads in local languages.

Technology giants are aware of the immense marketing opportunities that remains untapped from the regional markets. Earlier this year Google came out with a new application called Google Handwriting Input which allows users to input in 82 languages and also allows users to draw emojis. The application can function as an additional input option for any Android application but is available for devices running on Android 4.0.3 and up.

Just a day before Microsoft rolled out its translation app for Android and Android Wear devices - Microsoft Translator. The application is available for free download via Play Store, and can operate in 49 languages which include eight regional languages including Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, and Hindi.

Not just international giants but Indian companies such as Reverie Language Technologies, Swathanthra Malayalam Computing and KeyPoint Technologies’ are also supporting the growing trend of regional content.

The upward growth of regional content is also influencing the overall digital ad spends. According to the IAMAI report, the overall digital advertising spends in India will be Rs. 3,575 crore, by the end of December 2015. The proportion of digital ad spends in the local language will be 5 per cent of the entire market at Rs. 179 crore. With the increasing availability of digital content in local languages, this share is expected to reach nearly 30 per cent of the overall digital advertising spends, by the year 2020.

End of last year Google announced that its mobile and web advertising network, AdSense will support Hindi, which it describes as one of the most widely spoken languages in India, and one that has over 500 million speakers across the world. Google stated that the move will help the AdSense platform support the “wealth of quality Hindi content” that is currently available online.

While it is a great business move by Google, challenges in case of monetization include those with getting specific creatives for Indic languages. “An English creative gets 0.1% to 0.15%. A language creative can get 0.4-0.5% CTR,” was highlighted at the #NAMAIndic conference.

The other challenge highlighted by IAMAI’s report includes provision of only partial local language content by most of apps. The report also calls for intelligent translations instead of just mechanical processes that are in place on many websites. For example, a website selling 16MP camera literally translates MP to “Saansad” in Hindi, which means Member of Parliament.

Nevertheless, with digital growing in the country with the help of smartphones, startups, publishers and marketers have a large scope for local language Internet as non-English speaking population constitute 88% of the population. At least 50% of the population speaks Hindi, says the IAMAI report.