Google, despite accounting for a bulk of online ad sales in India, is now pushing for increasing the revenues from its Indian operations; this is a push that has come following a change in personnel at the top: Rajan Anandan, a former Microsoft India MD and currently VP ( Sales & Operations) at Google has been aggressively making the case for a growth in online advertising since taking over from Shailesh Rao as the Head of India operations less than three months ago.
Anandan’s presentation, titled ‘India@100’ at India’s first Ad:Tech conference was focused on impressing an audience expected to be largely comprised of advertisers and media planners, with numbers portraying increase in Internet usage in India. He first declared that the company believes that there are 100 million Internet users in India, and followed that up with statements like: “in the SEC A and B age group 15-34, there are 33 million people in India; almost all of them are actually online, and they’re spending more time online than on any other medium”, “this 100 million may be the 100 million that you really want” and a rather animated “it’s a big number, it’s a biiiig deal.”
Sitting in the hall at AdTech, I kept getting the feeling that I’ve come across these numbers before: Anandan had made a similar presentation at Goa Fest (a report at Campaign India), again to an audience comprising of the advertising fraternity. It appears (from this tweet) that he has made another such presentation today at NASSCOM’s Social Media Conference. It has been that consistent a pitch, spread across multiple interactions – read this and this.
Pushing Out Numbers Like Never Before
If you’ve been following Anandan’s press interviews and presentations over the past month or so, you almost know the numbers he’s going to mention each time. Before Anandan came on board, Google India rarely shared as much detail as Anandan did at the VCCircle E-Commerce summit.
At Ad:Tech, he quoted Google numbers, at times, Comscore data and even consumerbarometer.com, all packaged into a slick introduction to Indian Internet’s “inflection point”, followed by information on Google’s search and display advertising options (from search to admob, to display ads on YouTube).
Anandan has made projections that Online advertising in India will be a billion dollars by 2014, a 4-5 times increase from the current Rs. 1000 crore figure (his estimate), pointing out that despite the unique users, online advertising in India is a fraction of TV advertising. He’s also pointed towards increase in usage – more pointedly, towards the 20 times growth in search queries in the last five years, mobile search usage, mobile user growth (40 million users), and search queries for online banking and mobile handsets.
Simultaneously, with Google now limiting Google Apps to just 10 users for new signups, the company is now organizing on May 5th, a discussion with Anil Sabharwal, Enterprise Product Manager (Google Docs) on “how Google Apps is a better way to do business”, in line with a Small and Medium business push from the company, a part of the four big focus areas that Anandan spoke about with Mint.
But What Is Wrong With An Aggressive Sales Push?
The overriding sentiment following Anandan’s talk at Ad:tech was that it was too much of a sales pitch – I felt that, others mentioned it to me at the conference, and there were comments on twitter as well. I agree that a keynote should have been much more, but I wonder if, aside of wanting to hear more than a sales pitch at a conference and wanting a thought-provoking-talk-like-I-get-at-TED-that-changes-my-perspective-on-things, whether it is about time that someone made a such an aggressive pitch for the Internet in India.
Executives working in Online media in India have always complained that it doesn’t get its due; the Internet and Mobile Association in India has organized so many Digital Marketing Summits, Media Marketing Round Tables, and Marketing Conclaves that it might as well be renamed the Internet Marketing Association of India, but none of them have quite left an impression as this massive stream of large numbers coming from Google India now.
If Anandan’s presentations help increase advertiser interest in digital advertising in India, it won’t just benefit Google, but the rest of the ecosystem itself. In particular, an increase in Display and Mobile advertising spends could help support other, smaller businesses. Let’s not forget that the push that Google made last year for YouTube (albeit under Shailesh Rao’s watch) helped increase advertiser interest in live streaming of Cricket. Sure, Google dominates online advertising spends in India, and the rest of the market lives off what isn’t spent on search, but maybe a pitch for increased spends will benefit everyone.
Just that, the next time I hear Anandan speak at a conference, I should keep in mind that he’s targeting advertisers, not me. For thought leadership, I’ll look to Ajit Balakrishnan, or just keep my fingers crossed that I get to attend a TED or an INK Conference.
(Updates: A few grammatical errors corrected)
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