India: Digital Market Overview

Internet use in India and the development of the Indian online markets

Whatever market your business is working in, understanding your customers is key. The growth of internet use in India is attracting the focus of global brands, as well as changing the way national firms market themselves. The changes have been fast, and today to reach upmarket and professional audiences the internet has to be a core part of the strategy.

Internet use in India and the development of the Indian online markets »

Internet use in India and the development of the Indian online marketsIn India the web is now established as a mass market media channel for the wealthy. Email has become a mass market media channel for office workers and professional classes. Mobile (for SMS) is a mass market media channel across many demographics, but while mobile use is very high, mobile devices and the web will not properly converge until late 2010. The main changes in internet access have happened in the last five years and the internet has become an essential part of office life, and plays a key role in many homes. The number of people with access continues to rise, but so too does the time they spend online. Broadband access is growing fast, but the number of home connections lags behind comparable markets; however although the number of connections is low, a large number of people in high-end demographics have access. Significant infrastructure problems remain, creating a high cost for access compared to average wage rates.

India: Understanding the scale of change online audiences and digital media in India »

India: Understanding the scale of change online audiences and digital media in IndiaThe massive Indian market is changing fast. Internet access is mainstreaming among professionals and the use of mobile is intensifying. The pace of change continues to be rapid with digital channels constantly growing in volume and strength. More people spend more time online in India every year, and the digital tools and sites they use play an ever-growing role in their lives. Smart marketers keep on top of the scale of change and ensure their marketing strategies and touchpoints mirror where the consumer is spending their time. These notes give a sense of the scale of change we’ve seen so far and implies the scale of what is coming.

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Digital Intelligence special report: India »

Digital Strategy data - Digital Intelligence - Special report: India

As India becomes more digitally connected, this special edition of Digital Intelligence shows the way Indian consumers are going online, and on mobile. It covers the key trends you need to know to healthcheck your digital strategy and question whether digital has the right weight in your marketing mix.

Full stories and videos on click-through, and our strategists can guide you on what this means for your brand and your business plan.

Read the Digital Intelligence India special report

Recent editions of Digital Intelligence

A snapshot of digital India- 121m online users and growing fast »

India is the third biggest country in terms of internet users in the world, with a highly social and mobile audience. This snapshot takes a closer look at India’s digital consumer, and the key trends driving the country towards a digital future. It's estimated as many as 121 million Indians are logged onto the internet. It is a sizeable number, but still a relatively small proportion of the country's 1.2 billion population.

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India's internet

• 2% - Number of rural Indians using the internet
• 25% - Growth in Indian internet users in India over the past 12 months.
• 59% - Number of Indians who only access the internet via mobile devices.

What Indians do online

• 3 hours - Average time an Indian net user spends on social media.
• 13m - Number of Indians registered on matrimonial or dating sites.
• 70% of Indian internet users who watch online videos.

Continue reading "A snapshot of digital India- 121m online users and growing fast" »

Video: Winning in India- Think digital »

This video from Nielsen highlights the fast changing Indian consumer and their changing needs from the marketplace.

Website design in India? Tips from our digital strategists »

If you’re working on a global brand, remember that the beautiful site their New York agency has created might be designed for high-bandwidth markets. Always look at the load times to ensure your consumers see your message quickly. Ditch the flash and the heavy images: it’s better to be there, than be pretty but never get loaded!

India online ad spend to rise 54% this year »

The Indian online advertising market, including classifieds, will grow by a huge 54% in the next 12 months, according to new data. The research, from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB, found that as of March 2012, the industry was worth Rs 2,851 crores in annual revenue. The trade body went on to forecast that this will further grow to Rs 4,391 crores by March 2013. The IAMAI represents the online and VAS players in India.

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India: Reach of key online categories: India Vs. Worldwide »

Search, social networking and email are the top three key categories fro online communities in India, with social networking and email being significantly more popular categories in India than the rest of the world.

Reach of key online categories: India Vs. Worldwide. Search, social networking and email are the top three key categories fro online communities in India, with social networking and email being significantly more popular categories in India than the rest of the world.

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Mobile marketing in India? Tips from our digital strategists »

While ownership of Internet-connected PCs might still be relatively low across the country – and reserved mainly for the more affluent city-dweller – mobile phone ownership is more wide spread and growing rapidly. The mobile device offers a great way for marketers to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world and you don’t have to rely on the latest, most sophisticated smartphones to engage your audience. Why not think about the options that can be offered by shortcodes text back response, SMS, Interactive Voice Response and automated outbound dialling?

Video: Winning in rural India- Think mobile »

This video from Nielsen illustrates the changing habits of rural India India's 800 million consumers. There are 250 million mobile connections in rural India (more than in urban parts of the country) representing a huge opportunity to reach consumers on the move.

$40 Akash tablet gets commercial launch in India »

Akash, the low cost Indian tablet is set for a commercial launch, following its Government-subsidised launch in October. Though the base version was made for students, a commercial variant will also be made available by end of November. The Aakash will have a shelf name UbiSlate 7.

Continue reading "$40 Akash tablet gets commercial launch in India" »

India: Online App usage for men and women »

Women use online instant messaging applications three times as much as men, and are more active social networkers. However, men install more apps than women with 16 apps added per month compared to just 11 by women.

Online App usage for men and women: India. Women use online instant messaging applications three times as much as men, and are more active social networkers. However, men install more apps than women with 16 apps added per month compared to just 11 by women.

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India: Smartphone usage for women »

Women spend 3 hours more on calls every month when compared to men and 4 times longer on instant messaging applications.

Smartphone usage for women: India. Women spend 3 hours more on calls every month when compared to men and 4 times longer on instant messaging applications.

India: Smartphone usage for men »

Men spend 50% more time browsing the web on their smartphone than women.

Smartphone usage for men: India. Men spend 50% more time browsing the web on their smartphone than women.


India- Mobile web to overtake fixed line this year »

The use of the mobile Web is set to overtake fixed-line Internet in India by the end of the year, as the country’s mobile revolution continues at full speed, according to new data. Statistics from statcounter indicate that India’s mobile Web usage is just under 50% as of the second quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, wired access is steeply falling.

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Smartphones in India: Web browsing is for men, texts are for women »

In India, women spend the same amount of time on their smartphones as compared to men. However, there are sharp contrasts in how they use their phones, according to new research. The study, from Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights notes that men spend 50 percent more time browsing the web on their smartphones than women. Conversely, Women spend 3 hours more on calls every month as compared to men, and 4 times the amount of time men spend on Instant Messaging (Chat) applications.

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Low-Cost Android smartphones ‘to take 80% of market in Africa, India, and China’ »

Low-cost Android handsets will reach a penetration rate of 80% of total smartphones in Africa, India, and China by 2015, according to new research from In-Stat. The low-cost Android smartphone segment is comprised primarily of smartphones released with Android 2.2 or 2.3, since these versions are a good blend of features with modest memory and processor usage.

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Social marketing in India? Tips from our digital strategists »

As more and more people connect to the Internet in India, time spent social networking is exploding (on sites like Facebook and Orkut). It's one of the primary motivations for going online. As they do, marketers have the opportunity to reach and engage an interconnected audience and build brand reputation through the spread of positive word of mouth. But in order to be successful in social marketing you need to listen first, then plan before entering into the conversation. Once you are engaged in a dialogue, manage the responses carefully so you can maximise the benefits of brand advocates and minimise the risk of negative PR.

Video: Social Media in India »

This video from Nielsen offers key data on social media's growth in India, and its impact on marketing strategies.

Consumers ‘trust social brands more’- China and India »

The vast majority of consumers in China and India trust brands that are responsible or sociable, according to new research. The study, from Havas Media, also indicates that only 20% of brands have a notable positive impact on consumer’s sense of wellbeing and quality of life. Of those polled, 95% and 85% said they trust companies with a responsible or social profile more than those without in China and India respectively.

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India and China ‘most active social media users’- are marketers missing a trick? »

India and China have the most active social media users, while web users in the US, Europe and Japan are less likely to post information on social networks, according to a new report. The global survey by Forrester Research, found that three out of four Chinese and Indian web users write blog posts or upload pictures and music. The online survey collected from 95,000 Internet users in 18 countries.

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Film soundtrack ‘Kolaveri Di’ goes viral: Tops 8m views »

The song 'Kolaveri Di' from Indian actor Dhanush's upcoming movie 3 has become one of the internet viral sensations of the year. The Tanglish song (a mix of Tamil and English) with nonsensical lyrics came out just two weeks ago, and has already notched up over 8 million views on YouTube since its launch. By comparison, last year’s hugely successful ‘Old Spice’ YouTube ads got over 35 million views over an extended campaign.

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Infographic: Social media in India »

Social media is booming in India, with Facebook and Yahoo leading the way, according to new data. The study, from Burson – Marsteller, indicates that Facebook and Yahoo are the top two sites in India with nearly 52% reach. The findings indicate that social media is the online destination of choice in India, ahead of news and sports sites.

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Indians ‘now spend more time on social media than email’ »

Social Media has now become part of everyday life for a majority of online Indians., with two-thirds of the country’s web users accessing social media daily, according to new research. According to a study on social media usage by The Nielsen Company conducted in collaboration with AbsolutData, nearly 30 million Indians who are online are members of social networking sites and about two-thirds of them spend time on these social networking sites daily.

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India: Unique visitors to social networking sites »

India, along with Brazil, had been two of Orkut's final strongholds - until August 2010, when Facebook overtook Orkut to be the leading social network in India. In March 2011, the number of Facebook users grew to 31,593 million (48% more than Orkut).

Unique visitors to social networking sites: India. India, along with Brazil, had been two of Orkut's final strongholds - until August 2010, when Facebook overtook orkut to be the leading social network in India. In March 2011, the number of Facebook users grew to 31,593 million (48% more than Orkut).

India ‘to overtake US as Facebook’s largest market’ »

India is forecast to overtake the US as the world`s largest Facebook market by number of users as early as 2015, according to a new report from Gartner. The report attributed the growth to a rapidly increasing internet penetration in India, combined with high rates of growth in mobile connections.

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Video: India's digital consumer »

This video from Nielsen demonstrates how digital is going to change the way Indian consumers are connecting and engaging with each other, and what it means for marketers.

Amazon debuts 'Junglee' ecommerce site in India »

Amazon has launched an ecommerce site in India, marking the entry of one of the world's largest online retailers into the $550 billion retail market. The website, called Junglee.com, will offer more than 12 million products and more than 14,000 Indian and global brands, Amazon said in a statement. India has more than 100 million internet users and online shopping has been growing rapidly.

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India: Top online retail categories »

Computer software is the most visited retail category in India, and the only one which greatly outpaces global averages.

Top online retail categories: India. Computer software is the most visited retail category in India, and the only one which greatly outpaces global averages.

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India: Ecommerce category growth »

60% of all Indian internet users visited an online ecommerce site in November 2011, with the number of online shoppers increasing 18% in the past year. Coupon or deal sites have gained maximun traction with a jump of 629% compared to last year.

Ecommerce category growth: India. 60% of all Indian internet users visited an online ecommerce site in November 2011, with the number of online shoppers increasing 18% in the past year. Coupon or deal sites have gained maximum traction with a jump of 629% compared to last year.

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India: Top ten online retail sites »

This research highlights Amazon's popularity with the Indian online community. Amazon sites have nearly twice as many unique visitors as Apple.com.

Top ten online retail sites: India. This research highlights Amazon's popularity with the Indian online community. Amazon sites have nearly twice as many unique visitors as Apple.com.

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Online video use in Asia - new report shows overtaking Western markets »

Asia (excluding Japan) and BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have overtaken Europe and western markets on television viewing and video consumption via Internet or mobiles, according to a new report looking at online video use in Asia. The findings, from Nielsen’s global media consumption index also shows that globally, 14% of advertising expenditure goes towards digital.

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Maruti Suzuki Ritz becomes top Indian brand with 1m Facebook fans »

Maruti Suzuki Ritz has become the most popular brand in India by clocking a record fan base of over 1 million (1,018,000+ members) on popular social networking site Facebook. Maruti Suzuki Ritz made its debut on Social media in August 2010.

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Top Chinese mobile marketing firm Madhouse launches in India »

Madhouse, China’s leading Mobile Marketing Company has launched in India, in partnership with global ad giant WPP. Madhouse offers brands mobile solutions across the spectrum of paid, owned and earned media on smart phones and tablets.

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Google and Facebook forced to censor content in India »

Google and Facebook have removed content from some Indian domain websites this week, following a court directive warning them of a crackdown “like China” if they did not take steps to protect religious sensibilities. The two internet giants are among 21 companies asked to develop a feature to block objectionable material after a private petitioner took them to court over images deemed offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

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Email marketing: Indian marketers seek anti-spam regulation to boost reach »

The majority of marketers in India are in favour of a code of conduct to tackle to growing issue of email spam, according to new research. Octane.in, an email service provider and creator of India’s first on-demand multi-channel marketing campaigns platform, has commissioned their second annual research report to help guide India marketers as they look to boost their return on investment in 2012 by linking their email marketing efforts to social media.

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Google runs first TV ads in India »

Google is turning to TV advertising as it seeks to drive up awareness and usage of its products in India. The search giant is adapting an idea already used in several other countries, and utilising the tagline "The Web is What You Make of It", specifically for Indian consumers. India constitutes a particularly attractive market for the company, given the size of its population, alongside rising internet penetration and digital literacy levels.

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Google expects India’s web audience to triple by 2014 »

Google expects India's Internet users to triple by 2014 as telecom carriers invest in high-speed wireless infrastructure and smartphones become cheaper, according to a news report. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Google's country head in India, Rajan Anandan, said that the company forecasts India will reach at least 300 million Internet users by 2014, up from about 100 million now.

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Top India video virals- Kolaveri Di »

The song 'Kolaveri Di' used to promote the movie ‘3’ has become one of the internet viral sensations of last year, setting new benchmarks and trends for virals. The video has generated an astonishing 56 million views on YouTube.

The Tanglish song (a mix of Tamil and English) with nonsensical lyrics is performed by Tamil star Dhanush. The unprecedented success can be attributed to its appeal to India's youth market, and Sony Music Entertainment India’s plan to release the single track album.

The success has lead to multiple spoofs, including this ‘Kid Version’ here.


Top India video virals- Virgin Mobile »

These ads for Virgin Mobile were launched on digital media only with the launch of IPL (cricket in 2010). The ads were distributed via a targeted email and social network campaign aiming to reach the core market of Young Indian males. The collection of ads have racked up over a million views.


Top India video virals- True Roots »

This impressive ad promoting the brand Trueroot creates a connection with Indians in a very unique and touching way. This ads became popular under the tagline “That’s the Way we are”. Recently, the video went viral in Facebook, amassing more than 225,000 views in YouTube.


India viral videos- Reliance Big Cinemas »

The Silent Indian National Anthem by Reliance Big Cinemas attracted more than 1 million YouTube views.

Digital Intelligence India »

Digital Intelligence India
Whatever market your business is working in, understanding your customers is key. It's about getting the right message to them at the right time and the right way.

The growth of internet use in India is attracting the focus of global brands, as well as national firms looking for more effective ways to reach upmarket and professional audiences. As online commerce and internet audiences accelerate, the web is moving to the centre of the retail and information culture in key demographic groups.

To support our clients and partners we've collated together research that provides a snapshot of the online economy in India today, and there is a supporting online resources page.

Developing digital strategies for content, commerce and communications in India demands a strong understanding of the role the web, email and social media play in people's changing media mix. If you find the notes useful then add your comments in the supporting pages.

Read Digital intelligence India

Internet use in India »

Low, but high concentrations among professional classes

Internet access growth started accelerating in 2002 and both the web and email have now mainstreamed as both a consumer and business tool. Use is skewed massively towards specific up-market demographics and professional classes that have access as part of their working lives. The twenty something professionals are graduating college with internet access part of their personal landscape so a clear cohort effect is in play – as this group ages they replace the older generation where internet access is more patchy and the behaviour, on the whole, less engrained. Email has become an important business tool for both domestic and international firms, and the ability to overcome the geographic challenges of such a large country have made it a quick replacement for fax services. However it’s not just about work, the web is proving itself as both an entertainment and business media platform with many strong entertainment sites in sport and news traceable back to origins in the mid nineties. The strong home-grown content industry in India, complemented by a strong IT sectors in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi have fuelled internet development. In terms of international access, there is strong use of UK and US websites as well as international sports websites.

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Internet usage: India »

Growth of Internet use in India 1998 - 2008

Internet usage: India - Growth of Internet use in India 1998 - 2008

Broadband use in India »

Rapid growth as broadband replaces narrowband connections

India is undergoing the switch to broadband before many people even experienced narrowband, but the pace is slow because of the challenges of the telecommunication infrastructure. India will be a broadband internet country and a wireless internet country eventually, but until 2011 it will be a slow process as the exchanges get upgraded and local businesses wrestle with connection challenges.

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Broadband growth: India »

Broadband subscriber growth 2007-2008

Broadband use in India

Online advertising in India »

Fast growth from a low base

The internet advertising industry remains young in India and behaves in a similar way to the Western European internet advertising industry 5-8 years earlier. The sector is dominated by financial services, IT/mobile and recruitment, with consumer package goods and motoring accounting for only small shares of the national online advertising market. However Indian consumers have experienced web advertising from the start of their use of the web so there is greater acceptance than in some of the Western European markets at a similar stage in their growth. The market is nationally driven with extra campaigns coming from global brands, but most of the budget confined to national businesses. However, negative perceptions about advertising remain and on the whole national media have been sluggish to provide online services comparable in quality to those in the UK and USA.

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Online advertising sectors: India »

Category of advertisements seen by users

Online advertising sectors: India - Category of advertisements seen by users

Online advertising: India »

Information searched for after seeing specific ads

Online advertising: India - information searched for after seeing specific ads

Online activities in India »

What are people doing online?

Email and information remain the strongest reasons people go online in India, but the use of video has grown rapidly in the past few years and will continue to do so, following trends from Western Europe. National broadcasters as well as the BBC and YouTube have all been early beneficiaries of online video viewing from India. The role of social media is growing rapidly with over 60m people having profiles on social networking sites. This will accelerate through to 2012 by which time internet access should have broadened and social media become a standard element of web use with the vast majority of regular users having at least one social media profile. Blogging and RSS use also prove to be significantly high at present; this will continue, but relative to other tools, blogging’s share of voice will decline throughout to 2010.

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Top websites in India »

Download the latest data about the top websites in India.

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Social media and multimedia: India »

Behaviour of internet users

Social media and multimedia: India

Online activities: India »

Main reasons for using the internet

Online activities in India

Consumer internet behaviour in India »

Understanding how audiences use the internet in India

For people with access, it’s a major part of their daily or weekly schedule. The internet is a gateway to world knowledge as well as a massive platform for national media and documentation. Once people start using the internet their behaviour changes permanently and already in India over two thirds of people with access use it several times a week or more. Work audiences account for significant amounts of the online total population. Access from internet cafes remains extremely high, averaging 30% on working days

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Internet access location: India »

Breakdown of where time is spent online

Internet access location: India - Breakdown of where time is spent online

Frequency of internet use: India »

Percentage of active internet users who use the internet

Frequency of internet use: India - Percentage of active internet users who use the internet

Mobile phone use in India »

The mass market communication tool

There are around 300m mobile users in India (2008: 286million accounts). 92% of mobile subscribers are on pre-paid connection and remaining 8% on post-paid terms according to the IAMIA research of 2008. The Indian telecommunications market has tremendous growth opportunities – and according to IAMIA is set to exceed 500 million by 2010. Value added services - SMS, Hello Tunes, Music on Demand and Airtel Live - contributed to about 9.5% of the total revenues of the segment and SMS alone accounted for 4.1% of the total revenue in the market according to Go Broadband (2009).

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Search engine marketing in India »

The growth of search engine advertising

The role of search is similar to most developed internet markets, although there is a lack of accurate data due to challenges in researching the market size effectively. Search is the largest segment of the online advertising industry in most countries and search engine advertising is rapidly growing in India, roughly doubling in size each year. Search engine optimisation is believed to be a massive part of the marketing mix in India but remains unquantified. Product development among search engines will now increase, given India’s accelerating status as an internet economy.

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A day in the life of Indian culture: The Times of India »

We’ve always enjoyed The Times of India, and this advertisement captures in one minute an explosion of the culture and issues in Indian society today


Internet laws in India »

An interesting lecture by Gurpreet Singh in Delhi sharing understanding about key internet Laws India


Internet use in Indian elections »

A great news feature from France 24 on the use of the internet in the elections in largest democracy in the world.


Google: integrated marketing in India »

Google: integrated marketing in IndiaIn 2009 Google ran heavyweight print advertising campaigns in India to draw people into the search engine for specific types of search. It’s a really interesting move from Google, but no surprise for the world’s biggest online brand to be heading offline - here's why...

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Case study: Incredible India | Sector: Travel | Format : Rich media, email »

Case study: Incredible IndiaThe Government of India Ministry of Tourism wanted to promote India as the destination of choice among international travellers from the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific. The marketing strategy, which went beyond the traditional media mix, integrated online marketing so the Ministry could reach the increasing number of people who research their holiday destinations online. The Ministry understood the need for an interactive and engaging campaign to ensure message retention, as tourists choose international holiday decisions months ahead of actual travel dates.

Download the case study

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