Even though the Indian market is dominated by the traditional forms of media, namely print and television, there is a lot of buzz around the digital medium. And this has been the case for some time now. Companies often talk about how digital is a key component of their marketing strategy and they see more monies being spent on it in future. If one goes purely by overall statistics, the medium does not look very appealing as a vehicle to reach out to larger audiences. There are around 12 million people with a broadband connection, compared to roughly 100 million in neighbourhood China. But when one looks at the socio-economic and demographic profile of the internet user in India, it becomes a compelling medium for the advertiser. And with the advent of 3G and a huge mobile subscriber base, more and more people will be surfing the web through their handsets. Going by this, one would assume that internet advertising will already be significant in India, if not substantial, and definitely grow rapidly in the future. But when one looks at the numbers shared in various reports, they seem to be on the conservative side.
Recently, the consultancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, released its global outlook for the Entertainment and Media industry (2010-15) which spoke of the next five years being the “golden age of empowered consumers”. It also pointed towards an increase in demand for digital by consumers all over the world. In India, internet advertising will be growing the fastest among all mediums with a CAGR of 25.5 per cent. But again, when one looks at the numbers for the size of internet advertising in India, it looks conservative. I think the medium will be attracting much more advertising monies in the next five years than the current estimate of Rs. 24 billion.
Part of this conservatism stems from a lack of standard measurement tools to measure the reach and impact of digital media campaigns. Majority of media planners are comfortable with traditional media, for not only it is huge, but also there are standard measurement tools which give quite a detailed picture. You might argue, how representative they are or how much do they reflect the ground realities, but they are accepted by the industry. When it comes to the digital world, there is no such tool. People call for developing standards but somehow I feel that it cannot be created by forming committees of experts. When Google started its search engine services, it came up with its own advertising measurement tools and they became the standard. Likewise, there will be digital companies who will be able to develop a tool through which the advertiser will be able to measure the impact till the last dollar spent. So while committees are good, I think the digital world will itself churn out a solution.