The recently concluded second edition of our Digital Leadership Summit held in Mumbai saw many industry leaders sharing key insights and discussing trends in the digital marketing landscape. Among our speakers was Mr Abraham Alapatt – President and Group Head: Marketing, Service Quality, Value Added Services and Innovation at Thomas Cook. Mr Alapatt spoke about unlocking growth through innovation. Let’s take a look at some key insights from his speech.
Set up in 1881, Thomas Cook has been around for 137 years. Today Thomas Cook has grown in strengths from a travel agency to a brand that deals with travel, foreign exchange, business travel and many more. Thomas Cook’s massive growth since 2012 all boils down to innovation. For a brand or company to stay relevant and sustain success, they need to continually innovate to come up with new and fresh ideas for operations, products and service
Alapatt spoke about his role as head of innovation at Thomas Cook. Innovation isn’t something that is forced. Innovating your process or brand for the sake of innovation is redundant and will only do your company more harm than good. As a brand, try to look for a particular value to enhance. The easiest way for businesses to innovate is to find new customers or create a unique opportunity with an existing customer. The best way to this is by implementing a full-funnel marketing approach will help target and retain customers better. Take a look at our video on full-funnel marketing and how it can help your brand.
Many brands are still yet to make the shift from traditional marketing to digital. Today, ignoring the power of digital marketing means leaving your brand in the dust. By employing a digital-first strategy, any brand can achieve higher reach, better engagement and an increase in generating high-quality leads. Here, Alapatt cited two examples. The first was targeting people who make pilgrimage visits. The Thomas Cook website lets users create personalised tours and packages centred around pilgrim centres around the country, pre-book the darshan and continue on the holiday. This feature helped them tap into a whole new target audience including those in tier I and tier II cities. The second was adding an “Explore” feature to target millennials. The explore button gave millennials the chance to create their own personalised list of activities including adventure sports, sightseeing, etc. as well as a prompt to download an app that shows your every route needed for your vacation. The idea behind these features on Thomas Cook’s website was essential to explore new categories to tap into India’s next billion internet users.
Alapatt touched briefly upon Thomas Cook’s virtual reality feature that gives customers a sense of their planned vacation. In the last few years, virtual reality has become a significant part of mainstream digital marketing efforts. Google India’s Year in Search Report 2017 posits that the Indian travel market will hit $48 billion by 2020. Given these substantial numbers, VR is an excellent way for a brand’s audience to “experience” their products or services without direct physical effects. Not only does this help increase engagement, but combined with an effective digital marketing strategy, VR can help mould the future of marketing for your brand.
YouTube is currently the world’s second most popular search engine. In India alone, there are now around 225 million active users on YouTube, with this number expected to increase to 500 million by 2020. Brands need to leverage the power of YouTube or face losing out on a sizeable audience. From ensuring your video content uses techniques like YouTube SEO to exploring multiple formats, brands can improve performance and conversions. Videos have been around for decades, but have recently found their spotlight in terms of social media and digital marketing. Going forward, videos and interactive content will be at the forefront of digital marketing trends in 2019 and beyond.
Innovation does not need to be restricted to marketing efforts or revenue made. Several brands around the world focus on giving back to their community and society at large. Thomas Cook, too, with the aim of social impact started a Centre of Learning. The primary objective of this institution was to drive skilling and employability. They are also involved with multiple NGOs and government organisations that help uplift those in need. CSR via innovation is another way to scale up your business in 2019.
This session by
Mr Abraham Alapatt was insightful for several of the attendees. The pace of
growth today is astounding. Business models transformations that took ten years
are now changing in as little time as three years. To stay ahead of the
competition, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and brands must anticipate change
and act with the future in mind while continuing to deliver results.
One of the key highlights of the Digital Leadership Summit held in Mumbai was the panel discussion on the topic ‘Building a brand through digital marketing – Pushing the Frontiers’. The discussion moderated by Mr Suneil Chawla, the Co-Founder of Social Beat, had two reputed panellists: Mr Ajith Narasimhan from Sundaram Mutual Fund and Mr Vipin Guliani from Piramal Group. Let’s take a look at the key insights of the session.
Everyone has been talking a lot about the increasing impact of digital marketing in building a brand. But the most important factor that needs to be discussed is the nature of the digital marketing technique, which in fact, plays a major role in achieving the desired results. That very thought started off the panel discussion. So how strategic or technical is digital marketing today?
Ajith from Sundaram Mutual Fund strongly believed in the strategic nature of digital marketing techniques. To substantiate his stand, he explained how the shift of mutual funds from being a push-driven product to a pull-driven product, paved the way towards the necessity of digital marketing today.
Due to major changes brought in by GST and demonetisation, mutual fund companies no longer need a medium of distributors to sell their products. Customers from the newer generation are more interested in getting serviced by the companies directly. Therefore, it becomes very important for companies to build a connection with the customers as well as retain that connect for a very long period of time. This is why the industry gives a highly strategic approach to digital marketing. Doing that helps them understand the need of the customers and provide them with services as per their requirements.
Vipin, from Piramal Group, too emphasised on the strategic nature of digital marketing today. When the aim is to build and sustain the brand, it becomes important to strategise digital marketing. However, he gave equal importance to the technical aspect of digital marketing as well. He was of the opinion that only the technical data mattered as far as the sale of the service or product was concerned.
Both the panellists were of the same view that digital marketing has evolved to a great extent and is no longer just a marketing tool. Over the years, the type of customers who consume different products and services have changed to a great extent. The customers of this generation need to be acquired, nurtured, retained and engaged with.
The need to innovate new ideas in order to connect with and understand these customers is the need of the hour. Apart from giving companies the advantage of targeting the right customers, digital marketing also helps them to understand the needs of the customers and design their brands and services accordingly. Therefore, it becomes important to incorporate digital marketing techniques right when the idea of launching a product or a service comes into the picture.
With changing times, the kind of products and services that customers need are also changing. Ajith was of the opinion that in the coming years, there will be a need to re-categorise the products completely. The need of the hour then would be curated solution-based products and goal based offers. That is when there will be a great scope for bringing in innovation in the digital space and engaging with India's next billion internet users.
Vipin also agreed with him. The requirement now is to first find out what the customers need and then build the product. This involves a lot of research for which innovative ideas have to be developed to find the right information from the customers through the digital space.
The number of consumers has increased rapidly. And not all the people who consume data are recurring customers. There is a need for customer profiling in order to put forth the right suggestions to the customers. Both the panellists agreed that the digital strategy that needed to be applied here varied in the case of B2C and B2B.
Since there has been a shift from mass targeting to micro-targeting, strategies, too, need to be changed. Instead of bombarding all the people with the same digital ads and search ads, it is important to connect with people based on their profiles. This data-driven model would do wonders in the area of lead generation.
In the case of B2B, the target audience is very limited. Therefore, a blended strategy could be used, wherein apart from directly trying to convince the distributors, the help of customers could be taken to influence the decision of the distributors. This could be done with the help of social media platforms like LinkedIn.
The new generation needs easy access to everything. Today, it is not difficult to bring a customer on board if your products are given to them in the most simplified manner. Going the digital way makes sure that customers get instant satisfaction. Therefore, it is necessary to spend the money to upgrade the reach of the company.
As compared to the other mediums, digital marketing is the most objective way of measuring ROI. It becomes easy to determine the success or failure of one’s campaign if it’s ROI driven. Not only does it help to determine the number of engagements, but it also helps in finding out the right platforms that help in targeting a specific audience. With ROI driven marketing technique, brands can easily recognise the right social media platform to connect with their customers.
Both our panellists were of the opinion that digital marketing is a key player as far as the game of connecting with the customers or distributors is concerned.
The Womenwill Leadership Workshop was an initiative conducted by Google. The world’s most used search engine had invited its premium partners to nominate the inspiring female leaders of their organisations. Rachna Ganatra – Head of Strategy and Business Development – represented Social Beat in the workshop. The event was geared towards understanding gender disparity issues that women face at work. It also threw light on how to overcome systematic and personal barriers in career success, building confidence, recognising and creating strong connections and making a robust personal plan to move ahead.
The workshop was conducted by the very accomplished and vibrant team of woman entrepreneurs Jinny Riat and Neha Kalia who used a lot of storytelling and kept the audience engaged throughout the workshop. It was amazing how participants opened up about challenges, personal experiences and collectively worked on exercises that were geared towards a lot of self-reflection and taking ownership to drive solutions.
The day-long workshop was a wonderful opportunity for self-learning and reflection. Additionally, the attendees shared space with other exceptional women in the industry, with a lot of bonding over wonderful personal experiences. Since Social Beat is an organisation which has more than 65% women in its workforce, the insights were really helpful and inspirational.
However, it was not all about learning. The venue, decor, goodies and food were all tastefully done with a thematic layout across. Not only was the workshop extremely enriching and enlightening, but it also had a vibrant ambience, accounting for a day of laughter and bonding.
As the saying goes – A woman is unstoppable when she realises she deserves better. Social Beat is happy and proud to be part of this initiative. You can also read our blog on women in leadership and how to retain talent in a start-up for more insights.
The World Marketing Congress and CMO Asia recognised the 50 most influential strategy leaders around the globe at the Mobile and Digital Marketing Summit 2018 held on the 27th of November at Taj Land’s End, Bandra, Mumbai. We are extremely happy to announce that Mr David Appasamy – Head of Brand and Strategy, Social Beat – has been selected as one of the top influential strategists from across the world.
David has an exemplary career spanning over 35 years with several leading companies such as ITC Ltd, Mudra DDB and Sify Technologies covering Business strategy, Brand and Marketing Management, Digital Marketing and Audience Engagement. From 2006-2011, David was the Co-Chair for the International Chamber of Commerce’s Task Force on Internet, Telecoms, Infrastructure and Services. In 2010 and 2011, he was also part of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) guiding the UN Secretary-General on Internet Governance.
The 5th edition of the World Marketing Congress was held this year with the central theme of Futuristic Marketing. The conference covered various aspects such as digital initiatives, customer experience, advertising and branding. The conference also discussed the importance of linking sustainability with a brand’s identity and how to develop a sustainable brand by changing the dynamics of marketing strategies. Various industry experts also stressed the need for brands to focus on their marketing culture rather than only their products and services. The other key aspects that were highlighted are the role of brands in empowering customers by using interesting engagement initiatives to create brand perceptions and nostalgic memories.
This year’s World Marketing Congress also included the 8th edition of the Mobile and Digital Marketing Summit. This summit was organised jointly by the World Marketing Congress and CMO Asia. The main purpose of this summit was to discuss the future trends of digital marketing and the need for every brand to incorporate effective digital marketing strategies in order to establish a strong presence in today’s continuously evolving digital landscape. This summit was a great platform for industry experts to gather, explore, discuss and brainstorm ideas on formulating compelling strategies to reach India's next billion Internet users using digital marketing tools, case studies and global practices. 100 marketing wizards attended the summit from across the globe including market research experts, brand strategists and media professionals to discuss and ideate the best industry practices.
You can also read our other blogs on the top digital marketing events in India in 2019 and the second edition of our Digital Leadership Summit.
We are happy to announce that our co-founder Vikas Chawla, Head of Social Media Innovation - Anuradha Nair and Creative Head - Panisa Shah have received nominations under the first edition of Social Samosa’s 40 Under 40.
Social Samosa 40 Under 40 is a salute to pioneers in the field of marketing and advertising in India – to celebrate thought leaders and entrepreneurs who have disrupted and impacted growth within the ecosystem.
Google India’s Year in Search report estimates that by 2020, more than 650 million Indians will be online. In the last two years, digital underwent a major paradigm shift – from a support-marketing channel to a full-fledged business platform of its own. According to the Digital Marketing Industry Report 2018 that we recently released, 68% of brands leverage digital marketing to promote their products and services.
Those nominated for #SS40under40 are those individuals who strive to leverage our country’s growing digital audience and formulate the best strategies to engage with the next billion internet users in India.
The nominations are spread across 10 categories namely - Account Management, Analytics, Brand Management, Business, Content Marketing, Creative, Digital Marketing, Media Entrepreneurship/Leadership, Media Planning, and Strategy.
Each candidate is nominated and assessed based on creativity, planning and execution, strategy, ability to analyse numbers and trends and implement them, crafting their brand’s message and how effectively they engage with consumers.
After a whopping 450 plus entries, Vikas was shortlisted among 228 other nominees by a jury of marketing stalwarts namely:
We wish good luck to our Social Beat members in the final selection!
For more insights into the awards, visit 40under40.socialsamosa.com
At Social Beat, being imaginative and innovative is part of our DNA. We work hard to reach our client’s goals and exceed their expectations. So it’s always a wonderful feeling when accolades come our way! The recently concluded Big Bang Awards 2018 by The Advertising Club, Bangalore was a celebration of India’s digital advertising talent.
Social Beat won Silver for the Digital Award in the Real Estate Category. We were recognised for our stellar work for Brigade Group – the leading player in India’s real estate industry.
Awards like this prove why real estate brands need to shift from print to digital.
Established in 1986, the Brigade Group has a pan-India presence with a diverse portfolio that covers both commercial and residential properties. Apart from property development, Brigade’s repertoire also includes property management services, hospitality and education.
Brigade approached us with a simple objective - build user-generated content and create a buzz around Brigade’s social media handles. Keeping this in mind, we came up with a photo contest idea. While the campaign was centred on audience interaction, it reaped a two-fold benefit – the pictures sent in would promote Brigade and thus increase visibility, as well as encourage people to follow the company across social media platforms.
One of Brigade’s top priorities before the start of any campaign is to be as unique as possible, and the Photo Contest campaign did just that. Brigade’s audience was able to actively engage with them. Each participant had to send a maximum of 5 images, of which at least two had to feature Brigade properties. Participants also needed to add specified hashtags to their posts and follow them on social media platforms. This helped Brigade gain visibility and increased their social media followers.
To help spread word about the campaign, we created a small video that held all the details. The results achieved were staggering. In fact, this campaign also won Silver for the Best Social Media Brands under the Real Estate category at Social Samosa’s digital marketing awards.
There were over 15,000 views and engagement of more than 30,000 people, with more than 3000 clicks.
We received over 500 entries in response to the campaign. The majority of our audience was between the ages of 18 to 24.
This one-of-a-kind approach to creating engaging real estate marketing strategies is what sets Brigade apart from their competitors.
This award is further proof of Social Beat’s commitment to pushing the boundaries and delivering only the best in digital marketing for our clients.
You can also read our Complete Guide To Digital Marketing For Real Estate for more insights.
Our creative, quirky campaigns have always won the hearts of our clients, but when they win awards too, it’s always an added perk! The 2018 edition of Social Samosa’s much-anticipated digital marketing awards was held on July 31 and included 19 categories with 14 special categories.
Social Beat has won two Silver awards for the Best Social Media Brands under the Real Estate category. This was in recognition of our exceptional work with Brigade Group and Casagrand, two of the largest real estate developers in South India. These awards are further proof of why real estate brands need to shift from print to digital.
Casagrand is one of the most reputed developers in South India, with a 14 year legacy behind them. Established in 2004, Casagrand has developed over 12 million sq.ft. of premium residential real estate across Chennai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore. Their core values of innovation and quality have translated into their engaging real estate marketing strategies.
Some of their best-performing social media campaigns were able to tap into the variety of emotions that make a house a home.
The #FeelAtHome campaign by Casagrand was a creative representation of the small things that make our homes special. This campaign featured day-to-day things most of us do, but often take for granted. Each post was crafted along the lines of the philosophy that it’s emotions that go into making a home and not just four walls and a ceiling.
This post, for example, depicted a colourful rangoli, a staple at the doorway of almost every South Indian household. It performed very well on social media as a large part of the audience were able to relate to it on a personal level. The familiar feeling of waking up in the morning to the sight of rangoli being drawn at the entrance of the house is something most had grown up with.
One of the factors contributing to Casagrand’s win was their willingness to experiment with new formats and push the boundaries. During the Wimbledon season, we created a 3D post for Casagrand, which also acted as a quiz for the audience. It featured a tennis ball and users could move the 3D image around to check which side of the court it was on. The post was also able to creatively plug in a mention of Casagrand’s amenities in a non-intrusive way.
The Brigade Group, first established in 1986, is focused on property development. Apart from residential properties, Brigade has a multi-domain portfolio covering commercial property development, property management, hospitality and education. The same attention to detail and drive for excellence that sets their projects apart also drives their social media marketing strategy.
One of Brigade’s key differentiators is their unique way of showcasing new project launches. For Brigade, we have looked past the usual promotional posts and instead, depicted new projects in a way that captures their true essence.
For the Brigade Woods launch, we structured the entire campaign around the abundance of greenery that was the biggest USP of the project. These watercolour-style posts depicted the joy that comes with owning a house in the midst of lush green spaces.
Brigade’s social media approach also involves using creative ways for their audience to actively engage with them. One of the best-performing contests by Brigade is a photo contest. Each participant had to send a maximum of 5 images, of which at least two had to feature Brigade properties. Participants also needed to add specified hashtags to their posts and follow them on social media platforms. This helped Brigade gain visibility and increased their social media followers.
These awards are further proof of Social Beat’s commitment to pushing the boundaries and delivering only the best in digital marketing for our clients.
You can also read our Complete Guide to Digital Marketing for Real Estate for more insights.
While bidding farewell to 2017, Google India came out with a comprehensive report titled, ‘Year in Search’ which throws light into the way Indian consumes content. Google’s annual report offers a unique perspective on India’s most significant trends, major events and local and topical interests that reflect the ever-changing psyche of India’s online millions.
As of 2017, India’s internet users were estimated a little north of 400 million. Today, that number is closer to 450 million. While that number constitutes less than 30% of our total population, it is the second largest online market after China – and it is only growing. By 2020, the Year in Search India report estimates more than 650 million Indians will be online. That’s double the population of the United States.
Every day, more and more Indians are discovering the internet and integrating it into their daily lives – to look for information, entertainment, answers and everything in between.
The report spans 11 verticals and delves into consumer behaviour to reveal what goes on in the minds of India’s next billion internet users and the implications this has for brands and marketers. Here are the top five emerging trends identified in the report.
Non-metros in India are quickly catching up with the major cities regarding internet usage. Voice, vernacular and video are three key pillars that are showing strong and steady growth. Search queries are growing at a faster rate in non-metros than metros. In fact, 2 in 3 queries are from non-metro cities. And given the growth of regional content online, Hindi is of course still the dominant language; other regional languages like Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Punjabi are swiftly gaining prominence online.
This only goes to show that brands would have to focus on Tier II and III cities and digital marketing strategies would have to focus on languages apart from English. This is the only way to reach the right target audience.
2017 saw digital undergo a major paradigm shift – from a support-marketing channel to a full-fledged business platform of its own. According to the digital marketing industry report that we recently released, 68% of brands leverage digital marketing to promote their products and services.
Sectors like auto, banking, finance and insurance (BFSI) showed a direct correlation between online research and offline purchase. A leading OEM’s sales were driven 20% by digital. Similarly, sectors like FMCG and banking saw entire transactions being carried out online. Consumers relied on Search to educate themselves and discover products before finally converting online. For instance, consumers not only searched for hair care tips online but also looked for products that would help them solve their hair problems. As per the report, the Internet will influence $45 billion of FMCG sales in India. This is further proof of how digital will revolutionise the FMCG sector.
Growth spurts in e-commerce, travel, finance and digital media have driven online consumer expenditure, which is expected to grow 2.5 times to $100 billion by 2020. Furthermore, the report projects that India’s online spender base will expand 2-3x its current volume to reach an astounding 180-200 million by 2020. There was a 70% growth in Telco-owned owned mobile wallets like Airtel Money, Vodafone mPesa, etc. All these figures point to a robust e-commerce ecosystem.
The online and offline are merging to create a holistic story. The lines between digital and physical consumer behaviours continue to blur. Take for example – a 50% increase in search volume for “stores near me” indicating that online searches for stores are an now an integral part of a consumer’s shopping experience. Similarly, the auto industry saw an astounding 79% of car buyers making purchases after watching a video online. These examples reinforce the fact that what happens online directly affects what happens next offline.
Newer technologies like AI and machine learning are upping the ante, leveraged as marketing and business solutions. Across categories, Google’s Year in Search shows several examples of a market primed to take on the benefits of AI and machine learning. India’s auto industry saw intending car buyers take favourably to 360-degree video and virtual reality, which could potentially replace test drives. Insurance players turned to AI-chatbots to efficiently answer user queries at scale. Concurrently, content consumption patterns on video viewing platforms continue to be influenced by machine learning.
As per the Google trends in India report, online searches related to the auto sector are on the rise. This is more so in non-metros where digital sales drove 20% of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sales.
Two wheeler insurance saw a 100% increase in queries, while searches related to parts and accessories and servicing saw a 43% and 70% rise each.
The report also states that car buyers are now looking for a more omnichannel experience. This is evidenced by a 50% reduction in offline touch points during the buying process. Car buyers are relying more on the internet for videos regarding their vehicles and virtual test drives prior to finalising. In fact, 71% of consumers believe VR test drives and 360 videos could replace the conventional method of test-driving a vehicle. Videos are the simplest way of building your brand and utilising the video medium was one of the key digital marketing trends of 2017.
Business and personal home loan queries saw a massive surge, as did searches related to banking solutions and information about mutual funds. BFSI brands have also seen a significant impact on driving consideration and overall digital acquisition as a result of using a “search bar” as a call to action. Businesses also began utilising machine learning for speech to text translations and sentiment predictions in their call centre transcripts, all of which have resulted in a seamless experience and improved efficiency for customers and businesses alike. All in all, leveraging digital marketing for the financial industry has proved beneficial.
2017 was a good year for the e-commerce sector. There was a 41% growth in shopping queries, most of these coming from non-metros. The most significant growth markets are Patna, Lucknow. By 2020, digital spending and women shoppers are expected to grow by 2.5x.
The largest e-commerce category is fashion with a 53% growth in fashion e-commerce queries. Other fast-growing sectors include baby care, growing at 36% and groceries showing an average growth rate of 65-70% between 2017 and 2020. The report evidences that online shopping is increasing beyond India’s metros; searches in Hindi and other regional languages have gone up by 61% with Hindi commanding the highest share.
Education is rapidly coming up online; it comes as no surprise that learning and education related searches grew by 2x, while education content on YouTube grew to 4x. Non-metros showed more than 100% growth, with maximum interest in courses that taught new technology, i.e. machine learning, cloud computing, artificial intelligence.
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Digital is spearheading business for the FMCG category, particularly the beauty industry. 2017 saw a 60% increase in beauty related searches and searches related to parenting and baby care buying decisions.
Much of this is also influenced by YouTube as there is a 4x growth in watch time for baby care videos. According to YouTube Brandcast 2018, more than 50% of women professionals watch YouTube videos for more information before purchasing in categories like beauty, real estate and automobiles.
Real estate, too, saw a 43% jump in search queries and a 49% growth in searches related to affordable housing.
Showcasing properties on digital platforms is one of the most effective ways for developers to sell their properties. With a multitude of techniques including advertising on various platforms, multilingual content and a strong search engine marketing, real estate developers can generate even a 190 crore in revenue using the digital media.
Regional content ruled all aspects of entertainment with a 100% growth in vernacular entertainment watch time on YouTube. There were high conversions and growth in watch time when viewers were exposed to a TV ad for a show online.
We have witnessed first-hand the power of regional content on YouTube. For the ‘Good Netizen Good Citizen’ Campaign by The Murugappa Group, we at Social Beat conceptualised for a video that would resonate with their audience base. Since The Murugappa Group is based out of Tamil Nadu, Tamil language content would be more natural for their audiences to understand and relate to.
These videos performed incredibly well on YouTube - one of them even received over 570,000 views. Users actively engaged with the video, commenting and sharing it on various social media platforms.
Providing shoppers with an omnichannel shopping experience is proving valuable for businesses. Shoppers Stop worked with Google to connect their offline sales with their digital marketing spends. This got them a 2.5x Return on Ad Spends (ROAS).
Our client Gehna, too, follows an omnichannel approach with a physical boutique and presence online, selling on Facebook, Amazon and on their website.
Indians in non-metros embraced India’s fast-growing internet penetration and used it to research before buying new gadgets, which resulted in a 45% growth in queries for consumer electronics. New and niche technologies also witnessed a boost in search queries to the tune of 3x more interest in smart home devices and 2x growth in both in smart homes, appliances and lighting, and smartwatches and fitness bands.
Business-related tech took off in a big way as well, with an increased interest in accounting software, website builders and HR and finance/payroll categories.
With the advent of 4G in India, most of our internet traffic this year came from outside India’s top eight cities. Consumption patterns fluctuated with searches for mobile data jumped to 70% for 4G and dropped to 30% for 2G and 3G.
With the top 4 telcos offering competitive prices, consumers took full advantage – searches for offers shot up by 141%. There was a substantial increase in payment bank searches – nearly 174% as consumers are now looking beyond cash and card payments.
India loves to travel, and by 2020, the Indian travel market is poised to hit $48 billion, with Tier 2 cities leading this growth. Voice and fast loading mobile experiences and brand awareness are emerging key factors in travel-related searches.
This report only proves that digital marketing is the most important medium to market your brand. Whether you are a real estate giant or an FMCG brand, if you have an ambitious project in mind, reach out to us.
For more information, insights and opportunities in your vertical, download the report here.
The 2018 edition of Mary Meeker’s eagerly anticipated Internet Trends report is out and provides one of the most comprehensive insights into the global digital landscape. This year, the report covered a wide range of important themes from mobile usage and the rise of cryptocurrency to work patterns and immigration. One of the most important topics covered was the rise of China’s technological growth and how it will very likely overtake the US in terms of innovation and advancements.
While the 2018 report hasn’t covered India in depth, it is still an excellent barometer by which we can understand how the digital landscape here compares to the rest of the world. India’s internet growth has followed a very different path due to several factors that are unique to the country. While the US and China are already massive established markets, India’s strength lies in the fact that this is still an emerging market. This presents a huge potential waiting to be tapped into.
Here are a few key takeaways from the Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report 2018 and how India compares.
2018 records the highest number of people on the internet. Almost half of the global population, around 3.6 billion, are now connected via the internet. One of the reasons for this is the growth of WiFi networks across the world. Today there are around 450 million WiFi networks globally, as compared to five years ago when there were only around 100 million.
In India, however, it is not so much WiFi that is spearheading the growth of the internet, but mobile data. Drastic reductions in the price of mobile data have made the internet more accessible to all sections of the population. One of the catalysts for this development was the launch of Jio. Of the 150 crore GB of mobile data consumed by Indians, 100 crore GB was through just the Jio network. Google has made some strides with its Rail Wire initiative and there is free WiFi available in over 370 railway stations. They recently reported 7.5 million users consumed 7,100 terabytes across these stations. Additionally, 80% of all enquiries come in through mobiles. Because of this, mobile platforms are becoming increasingly important for brands. Speed and convenience are two of the most-valued features in Indian markets. This is why brands here are beginning to adopt a ‘mobile-first’ approach and utilise AMP-implemented landing pages to improve a user’s experience and generate higher leads.
Global internet adoption rates are growing slower than they ever have. In 2017, internet user growth stood at only 7% as compared to 12% the previous year. This could be because since most people are already connected to the internet, there are fewer new users to be added.
In India, however, a completely different scenario is unfolding. Up until 2016, Indian internet users were growing at an incredible 28% annually. Mobile data, cheaper smartphones and growth of vernacular content online has played a pivotal role in expanding the internet beyond just urban areas, into tier 2 and 3 cities and towns. Most significantly of all, internet penetration in India stands at only 27%. This shows that there is a huge opportunity for brands to take advantage of as internet adoption in the country continues to rise.
While the total time spent on mobile devices is increasing, 2017 marked the first year where smartphone shipments showed no growth. Again, this could be because the number of smartphone users around the world has more or less plateaued. The year also witnessed a paradox, wherein despite some of the most expensive phones such as the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note releasing, global average smartphone prices are falling.
As a fast-growing market, India’s smartphone sales figures were markedly different. Counterpoint revealed that India recorded an incredible 48% YoY growth in Q1 of 2018. The demand was for affordable smartphones which still provided a wide range of features. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Chinese phone brands known for providing just this dominated the market. Of the 10 top selling phone brands in 2017, 6 of them were by Chinese manufacturers.
While consumers in the US are spending more time than ever on their smartphones, mobile advertising budgets are not reflecting this. An average adult in the US spent around 5.9 hours on their mobile phone each day in 2017 as compared to 5.6 hours in 2016. But while advertisers are slowly branching out into mobile advertising instead of just traditional advertising, this shift isn’t happening fast enough. While 29% of time is spent on mobile, only 26% of advertising budgets are used for mobile platforms. This has resulted in a $7 billion gap that brands need to take advantage of.
In India, this potential might be far greater. As the country begins to benefit from cheaper mobile data and smartphones, higher digital literacy and greater access to digital content online, the number of hours spent on their phones will also increase. Currently, Indians spend 89% of their total online time on mobile data, far greater than the US average of 29%. Because of this, a study by Nielsen and BCG identified a $100 billion opportunity for digital consumer spending in India. One of the biggest contributing factors for this was the growth of mobile internet in the country.
One of the biggest trends in 2017 was the advancements made in voice technology. Google’s Machine Learning technology achieved a 95% accuracy, which is the same as that of a human. Amazon Echo’s sales also skyrocketed to 30 million in 2017 as compared to 10 million the year before. Consumers today are more willing to use voice search as accuracy and convenience of the technology improves.
As Google’s Indian language voice search accuracy improves, more Indians are beginning to use it as well. 28% of all searches on Google in India are voice searches. There has also been a 400% growth in Hindi voice search, indicating the willingness of users to perform voice searches in vernacular languages. The Google India Search Insights 2017 also showed that there was a 63% jump in data/voice usage. Moreover, 7% of all travel-related queries were through voice. Google Home and Amazon Echo were also launched in India recently, however, they do not support Hindi as yet. It remains to be seen how the lack of Indian language recognition will impact their adoption in India.
Amazon is by far the biggest player in US e-commerce sales. In 2017, it had a 28% share of the e-commerce market, with $129 billion in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV). To put this into perspective, it had only a 20% share of the market in 2013, with a GMV of $52 billion. The report also showed that most product searches today happen directly on Amazon. While 36% of product searches are conducted on a search engine, 49% of them are started on Amazon. But while Amazon is the biggest e-commerce player in the US, at $701 billion, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has a much higher GMV.
Back in India as well, Amazon is growing at a breakneck pace. In FY2017, Amazon announced that it had grown in its revenue by 105% in India. The number of app downloads for Amazon crossed 100 million by November 2017, with around 4.8% users visiting the app every single day. In the five years since its launch, Amazon has overtaken homegrown e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Snapdeal. The only competition for Amazon India could be Alibaba who has also announced plans to expand into Indian markets.
These findings prove that India’s rapidly expanding market presents a huge opportunity that brands cannot afford to ignore. As more Indians continue to come online, India will soon become an important player on the global digital stage.
After the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook has taken several important steps to tighten their data security. The multi-billion dollar social media platform recently announced a new set of amendments to their data policies. The question that has arisen is whether or not the recent changes in policies will affect brands and their advertising strategies. However, most of the new terms involve reiterating existing ones, which is unlikely to affect brands’ marketing strategies. Here are some of the most important announcements Facebook has made about their revised data policy and the impact it is likely to have on brands.
One of the most significant policy changes Facebook is making is to revoke access to user information for third-party apps that haven’t been used by them in over three months. There will also be a more visible button on the news feed which will allow users to restrict access to certain apps by themselves.
Impact: This change will only improve privacy and safety for users with zero impact on brands and advertising. Since apps that users consistently engage with will not be affected, brands will still have access to their main target audience.
Impact: This new policy is a step in the right direction towards better security for users. The improved privacy settings will help users be more confident about actively participating on the platform. For brands, this is a positive change as it means that their consumer base on Facebook will remain largely the same.
Earlier, through a feature called Partner Categories, advertisers on Facebook could target consumers based on very personal insights provided by third-party data agencies. But now after details of these providers exploiting private user data has come out in the open, Facebook is shutting down Partner Categories.
Impact: The Partner Categories feature allowed brands who lacked an existing customer database to find a target audience. While brands can continue using Facebook’s database as well as their own customer data through the Customs Audience tool, the exact impact of this change is yet to be seen.
Users will now be able to decide which ads they want to see appearing on their newsfeed. This is also an important step towards personalisation of a user’s newsfeed.
Impact: This feature has always existed on Facebook, the only difference now is that it will be more prominent. As long as brands are using the right targeting, they will be unaffected by this change as users will be interested in their ads. Brands with inaccurate targeting, however, are very likely to be negatively impacted.
Advertisers who upload their existing database onto the custom audience tool will not be able to see the exact reach of their targeting. This is to prevent advertisers from being able to see exactly how many of their customers are on Facebook.
Impact: While advertisers will not be able to see the exact reach when using the Custom Audience tool, they will still know how many customers were in their database. This will give them a reasonably accurate idea of how big their reach is.
The revised data policies are unlikely to have any significant impact on the way people are using the platform. Currently, India is Facebook’s biggest market with 240 mn monthly active users, overtaking even the US which has 230 mn. Far from decreasing anytime soon, these numbers are only going to grow. By 2020, there will be around 250 million new smartphone users and 100 million new internet users. A significant portion of these users will also start using Facebook.
For brands, Facebook is and will continue to be one of the most effective ways to reach out to their consumers. Despite the new terms and conditions, the number of Facebook users in India has not shown any significant decline, nor is it expected to. With their customers still active on Facebook, brands need to maintain a strong presence on this platform in order to build brand awareness and encourage customer loyalty. Advanced social media analytics tools, can also provide detailed targeting for brands. As the number of users will only continue to grow from here, Facebook remains one of the most important platforms for brands to engage with India’s next billion internet users.
As our Digital Marketing Industry Insights for India 2018 also points out, Facebook is one of the best-performing platforms to help brands meet their business goals. Through Facebook, we have even been able to generate a 190 crore revenue for Casagrand. The recent privacy changes Facebook has implemented is a positive step towards protecting a user’s personal information online. Brands in India are unlikely to face any negative impact over this decision as the number of Facebook users are only going to grow from here.