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WATTalks – Digital content in Indic languages to rule Internet in India in the future

Experts predict that the next wave of growth in India’s Internet penetration will come from Tier II and Tier III cities. It is here where wireless mobile internet will play a pivotal role, leading to a substantial growth of vernacular and regional content. As of today, up to 45 percent of online users consume regional language content. This number is expected to go up, given the availability of budget-friendly smartphones, low-cost data plans, and development of smart cities in rural areas.
WATConsult, recently held an informative panel discussion on the growing importance of Indic languages content in digital marketing.

Here are the significant takeaways from the session:

1. What is Indic content and has it been used in the media before?

To put it simply, Indic content is content in regional languages. It has been in use in India, especially in traditional media (print and TV) since a very long time. Recently, a significant number of internet users are getting access to online classifieds, government services, news, and payment services in Indian languages. Indic language users are not just accessing chat apps and digital entertainment but are also opting for digital payment methods.

2. Why has Indic content become the buzzword in digital marketing recently?

Even though there are over 125 million English speakers in India, less than 3 lakh of those speak it as their first language. The rest, speak one or more of the 122 vernacular languages. Increased smartphone and internet penetration, along with preference for regional languages is resulting in a constant upswing in the demand for vernacular content. Marketers can thus look at producing such content to capture their next set of audiences.

3. What is the future of Indic language content in digital marketing?

“Growth in user base will be complemented by increasing penetration of internet enabled devices, availability of affordable high-speed internet, rising digital literacy and Indian language enablement of the ecosystem bringing and engaging more Indian language users online,” Google-KPMG report.
The report further says that increasingly affordable smart devices and data charges will result in an upswing in the need and availability of regional digital content. The report estimates that by 2021, up to 536 million Indians will be using regional languages when online. With 201 million users, people accessing Hindi content online will outnumber those consuming the web in English.

4. Which other Indian languages are expected to make their presence felt in digital marketing?

Through 2016 to 2021, Marathi and Bengali Internet users are also expected to drive volume growth, while Tamil, Kannada and Telugu users are predicted to be among the most digitally engaged. These languages are also expected to cater to almost one-third of the total Indic language user base.

5. Have other companies/organizations started to produce content in Indic languages?

Considering that nine out of ten new Internet users in India will likely prefer content in Indic languages, Google has been ramping support for regional languages across its platforms, including Maps and Search. The move will ensure that a whole lot more people can access the Internet in a language of their choice.
Another example of successful use of vernacular content is that of Lufthansa. The airline created digital ads and a microsite with support for content in various Indian languages. The initiative resulted in 30 percent passenger growth in India alone.

6. How will an increase in demand for Indic content change digital platforms?

In the west, the proliferation of digital platforms has given rise to several ‘e-Celebs’ who have gained mass popularity, be it on YouTube or other social media. The same is happening in India too. Marketers can benefit immensely by actively tying up with these celebrities, leveraging their popularity and promoting their product and service offerings. These tie-ups will also increase their brand awareness and ‘viral’ presence, especially in regional markets.

7. How should digital marketers proceed with Indic content?

Digital marketers need to keep in mind a few things before proceeding with Indic content. Literal translation from English to regional languages will not work. Good quality Indic content for digital media must come from the thought process, and should be aligned to the regional culture. In this case, one must think in those tongues, rather than in English.

Knowing your audience, understanding subtleties, making the right investments at the right time, conceiving apt taglines, slogans, copies, and content in regional languages will help digital marketers make a niche for themselves in vernacular web space.

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