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Indian media firms need to re-engineer offerings for mobile-first world

MUMBAI: Media companies and publishers be better prepared for the change as smartphone usage in India is seeing a big revolution. The average time spent on smartphones daily is now equivalent to the time spent by TV consumers in an entire week, demonstrating the need for a complete re-engineering of offerings for the mobile-first world.

The latest ‘Smartphones Usage and Behaviour’ report from Kantar IMRB & MMA shows that mobile internet usage jumped by 29% in the period October-December 2016 over the previous quarter. The strong gains were driven by a number of industry factors like the launch of 4G services prompting a string of low-priced data offers and the impact of demonetisation.

The exit quarter of 2016 saw several changes in the behaviour and consumption pattern of mobile usage. Entertainment toppled Shopping to become the second-most engaged category in the October-December quarter. The period also saw News & Media marching past Gaming to grab a position in the Top-5 list.

Said Mobile Marketing Association India country manager Preeti Desai, “Media companies and publishers will have to completely re-engineer their offerings for the mobile-first world as average daily time spent on mobile (Smartphones) equals to the average weekly time spent on TV, as per the Kantar IMRB and MMA Smartphone report (Oct-Dec 2016). The huge jump in mobile usage is not only propelled by free data plans, but demonetisation policy also is a significant contributor in driving News & Media in the Top 5.”

The entry of Reliance Jio with its free 4G data offer redefined the mobile landscape by triggering an increase in data usage amongst consumers and also led to a fundamental restructuring of the telecom industry. Another factor which significantly altered the behaviour was demonetisation which drove consumers to seek newer digital payment platforms. For instance, Paytm registered a 10% increase in reach, and also became one of the Top-10 mobile properties.

Hemant Mehta, managing director, Media & Digital, Kantar IMRB,  said, “If ever there was a need to showcase an example of how Indian consumers respond when they see value in a product or service, the mobile usage behaviour in the last quarter of 2016 would be the best case. However, the bigger learning here is that the consumer behaviour and relationships with brands can alter quickly if there is an external trigger (like demonetisation) or a new offering. In my mind, therefore, besides constantly adding and demonstrating the value that their products and brands provide to the consumers, marketers will also have to be agile to respond to emerging market realities.’’

Here’s a look at the key insights on the Smartphone usage & how it is reflected in the consumer behaviour:

  • Smartphone data usage up 29% – The launch of 4G services prompted a string of low-priced data offers from incumbent players as they fought migration of consumers away from their networks. The availability of free/low priced mobile data offers led to a sharp increase in data usage during the quarter.
  • Impact of Demonetisation – The reach of finance properties grew by whopping 86% compared to the previous quarter.
  • Most Engaged Categories
  • Search, Social, Messaging as a category was the topmost engaged. The average time spent on Search, Social and Messaging platforms grew by more than 50%, no doubt helped by the lower cost of data and the addition of new data subscribers (~28 million)

While Women spent nearly 1.3x more time on online shopping portals as compared to Men, it was Entertainment that toppled Shopping to become the second-most engaged category in this quarter. Users transitioned from offline/downloaded content to online video streaming as demonstrated by 2 of the Top 5 apps being video streaming services. 

  • News & Media pipped Gaming to grab a position in the Top-5 list. News aggregators displayed a unique ability to attract audiences from different socio-economic backgrounds

Mobile is clearly the third largest mass medium in terms of ad spends in India today, with estimated spends in 2016 amounting to Rs 4,200 crore increasing to an estimated spends of Rs 6643 crore in 2017.

Video, native ads and branded content is expected to see explosive growth this year. Said Desai, “This explosive data usage has created humongous opportunities for marketers and this year we will see explosive growth into video, native ads and branded content as consumers gravitate towards timely content plus content with a personality.’’