Andre Nair optimistic on the growth of Indian online industry

MUMBAI: At the Internet and Online Association conclave on 1 October, Group M South Asia chairman Andre Nair spoke about India's position with regard to the online advertising market vis-?-vis international markets like US, UK and Australia.



His presentation was interestingly titled - Gloom or Dhoom? On an optimistic note as far as the online industry was concerned, Nair said that it took 50 years for television to penetrate 50 per cent of the market. In comparison, Internet's penetration rate has had a rocket like growth. Quoting some figures, he said that the IAB had forecasted that online revenue in the second quarter of 2004 will be $2.4 billion.



Nair emphasized on the fact that the number of people having online access are increasing day by day and hence the time spent on the medium is going up. Taking Hong Kong's example, he said that 53 per cent of the universe of the country was actively online. Also notable is the fact that during SARS, this number drastically went up as more and more people went online to find out what the epidemic was all about. On an average, people in Hong Kong spend 35 ? hours online per month.



On the other hand, in India too, there has been a growth in people spending more and more time on the Internet especially during the weekend. The number of heavy users has also grown in the last 12 months or so.

Whereas in Australia, the number of Internet users were much higher than that of television or radio from the period October 1997 to September 2003. During this period the number of heavy television and radio users drastically went down.

"Indian online consumers are becoming mature and sophisticated. They now come to the Internet for local news, travel, instant messaging, information and financial transactions," said Nair. Also in our country, the youth is driving the medium as the key growth has been in the 15-34 user age groups, which has increased in 2002 - 2003.

Nair also stressed on the fact that rich media and search engines were becoming more popular and that visual ads in the US were becoming richer. The average size of banner ads today is 2.5 times bigger than the standard banner ads. Also he revealed that the advertising revenue of search engines had grown almost 100 per cent in the US. However, in India, the search engines category was very small. But if one looks from the audience behaviour perspective then India is very much following the global trends.

The one message that Nair conveyed to the Indian advertisers was - "Jump! It is not as wide as you think. We at M One have created enough success stories in India to believe in the Internet medium," Nair said, while at the same time eulogizing about his company! "Enough research support needs to be supplied to justify the ad monies that are spent behind online. This research support will attract traditional advertisers to spend money on the Internet and then Internet will start appearing in the media mix," Nair added.

Online advertising will grow significantly in India and by 2007, almost three fourths of the total spends in India will go to Online. He however, said that a media mix was very important for any brand whether Indian or international and that online will assume its role in that total media mix. In conclusion he said that it was not about "Gloom or Dhoom," since the reality was always somewhere in the middle.

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