Indian advertisers wake up to the promise of online video

Brands are increasingly moving to the net to attract consumers, but they first need to figure out what works.
Written by Rajiv Rao, Contributor on

Two recent news items indicate the continuing shift in the way that brands are looking at popularizing themselves with consumers by increasing momentum on their web-based advertising efforts.

Indian phone maker Micromax recently introduced the Canvas Mad A94 ($138) — a 4.5-inch Android phone powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor that comes equipped with what it has dubbed as the Mad application.

The application apparently allows mobile video-hungry Indian consumers to watch advertisements and then earn points that can be applied towards a monthly phone bill. The app, says the company, is telecom operator agnostic. To further lure prospective buyers, the phone comes loaded with Spuul, an application that allows for viewing movies, Kingsoft Office for read/write/edit attachments, and the Opera mini web browser.

India's journey into the digital arena has only just begun, so the numbers are still not that huge; the online advertising market is just Rs 2,260 crore, or $375 million. But with only close to 50 to 75 million Indians accessing the net via mobile phones out of a potential population of 900 million, the coming tide in video consumption — which Indians have already begun to ingest voraciously — is going to be huge. Already, YouTube says it saw advertising revenue jump by around 75 percent in India thanks to the popularity of online video ads.

Recently, two big brands, cigarette maker ITC and car giant Maruti Suzuki, both announced plans to launch channels on YouTube, with ITC planning a recipe channel.

Similarly, Dentsu is apparently thinking of creating a grooming channel for its client Gatsby, the Japanese grooming products and cosmetics brand for men. Apparently, there are 75 other brands planning similar launches in the coming months.

Finding another, potentially cheaper and more trackable, platform to reach consumers is always exciting news for companies. However, internet advertising is a different ballgame to television. Companies will have to work hard to identify how their ads on the net should be different from that of their television cousins, and repurposed in order to achieve more traction.

Also, as most brand experts will testify, the real trick online is to build a community of fans that engage with the brand rather than just straining to attract eyeballs. Otherwise, this advertising may prove to be just as annoying as its television counterpart.


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