Could video-sharing Indians disrupt television advertising?

If 3G connections begin to deliver their actual speeds in India, video-crazy Indians may force advertisers to migrate to the net altogether.

I live in a city where there are ritual fistfights over parking, and where not giving an inch of space to another motorist is a matter of pride. So it gives me pleasure to read that urban Indians are sharing something (even if it is just mobile video, which says nothing about their charitable nature, of course).

According to this report, Indians share mobile videos more than anyone else in the world. Apparently, 65 percent shared their video through mobile, versus 53 percent globally. Here, the cohort of under-18-year-olds is a juggernaut, with 87 percent of them watching videos regularly while 36 percent alone shared trailers from superhero movies.

Why is this important? With all of this mobile action, the one industry that runs the risk of getting its lunch eaten is television. With a little over $4 billion in ad revenue size today, TV advertising is growing at a meager 4.5 percent. Mobile digital advertising, on the other hand, while still tiny by comparison at around $45 million in 2013, was 150 percent bigger than the previous year, and slated to grow by 43 percent in 2014 (while internet advertising as a whole was around $330 million and expected to surpass $500 million by the end of this year).

According to data from media buying agency GroupM, India has around 43 million monthly unique viewers, and over 3.3 billion monthly video streams, and internet video consumption is expected to increase sixfold by 2016. Many ad campaigns these days, such as L'Oreal Paris Fall Repair, are digital-only ones designed for life on the internet. The L'Oreal campaign attracted more than 1.7 million views on YouTube in just one week.

Of course, it is important to keep in mind that all of this froth is despite the fact that 3G connections in India are a joke at best and grand larceny at worst. According to a study by Skyfire, the browser maker owned by Opera, more than half (56 percent) of video consumers on India's 3G networks experienced page-loading problems and re-buffering, while 40 percent of all video streams ran at bit-rates of less than 300Kbps, which is an abysmally slow rate.

Imagine what would happen to television advertising if telcos actually gave us the bandwidths they advertise.


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