Hindi Is Driving Regional Content Consumption In India

Google India states that Hindi content consumption on Internet is growing at 94%, re-emphasizing the importance of focusing on local language content


Recently, Scroll Media released its WhitePaper on digital advertising in India. The findings showed that India’s digital advertising market has grown in double digits for the past five years, yet it remains small both relative to the total advertising spend in India as well as in absolute terms.

The paper found out that the gap between online audience growth and digital advertising spends has been because of low penetration of devices, slow broadband connections, and lower discretionary spending. However the gap is being bridged and Scroll has offered three strategies which will help brands best use the Indian digital economy.

In addition to the three strategies: 1. Radically relocating ad spends toward social media and video, 2. Digital first campaigns and 3. Focus on ad formats for driving greater engagement from mobile-centric world, we had stressed on the fact that marketers need to focus on local language content too.

Our advice has been bolstered with Google India stating that, “Hindi content consumption on Internet is growing at 94%.”

Catering to the internet users in tier II and III towns, technology giant Google is now focusing to expand usage of its products like ‘Maps’ and ‘Search’ in vernacular languages, especially Hindi. “While there are an estimated 500 million speakers of Hindi, there are just 100,000 Wikipedia articles. India’s Internet population is growing really fast, from 100 million users in 2011, we are now the world’s second largest Internet base with 300 million users and we are well-poised to touch 500 million base by 2017,” Google India Marketing Director Sandeep Menon told PTI.

He further added that one in five (21 percent) prefers to access Internet in Hindi in the country. “Hindi content consumption on the web is starting to take off. It has grown 94 per cent year-on-year compared to 19 per cent growth for English content.”

Unsurprisingly, the growth is driven by the proliferation of mobiles and the increasing mobile internet activities. Keeping this trend in mind Google is focused on bringing in products that understand the requirements of users rather than just cater to the demand and can work well in low network areas. “For India, the growth in Internet user base has certainly come from mobile phones. From 20 million in 2011, we have 152 million users accessing Internet over their smartphones. By 2017, it is expected that 490 million (of the 500 million Internet users in the country) will access Internet from their smartphones,” he said.

Keeping the regional markets in mind, Google has recently launched a new “instant translation” feature in Google Translate that allows users to translate printed text, like street signs or ingredient lists by opening the app on smartphones and pointing the camera at the text.

Apart from language, Google is also offering offline features like the ability to save Maps or YouTube Offline to help users access services in patchy networks or without incurring huge data charges.

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.

Very recently 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.

Recently, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International stressed 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 finds that the local language user base is growing at 47 percent, YOY, and reached 127 million in June 2015.

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.

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.