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Unseating Top Digital Players In India Will Not Be Easy

Players in the second-tier may change, TikTok for example is not in the set anymore and there is faster growth of players such as Amazon that will bring it to the second tier. The top two however will not be unseated in a hurry.

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For long, India has occupied the place of ‘a high interest’ market in the plans of several large companies; tech platforms perhaps top this list. Any digital brand you consider — whether it is Facebook, WhatsApp or YouTube or Twitter — all count India either as a market of high numbers and/or of maximum growth. The pandemic has accelerated this. Covid has resolved one of the big disconnects for these companies, which is the lack of monetisation despite the numbers.

Changes worth of five years have taken place in the last five months. Facebook has had a brilliant run in India, and chances are its story only gets better due to this.

As Indians, it is in our nature to be social and to be connected. Facebook hence was a huge hit to begin with. WhatsApp has become near universal for smartphone owners. Along with Instagram, these are all well-entrenched in our day-to-day lives. Facebook has overall been doing a great job of getting up to speed in a relative short period of time. But what is truly exciting is having built for monetisation. WhatsApp Pay, for instance, when it happens, can facilitate the next round of ecommerce growth in India.

This is important when you consider the sheer headroom growth for ecommerce. Despite the progress, the ecommerce share is still miniscule in India. If you compare to the Singles Day sale in China or the like, there is a much bigger pie at stake.

During the lockdown, when even grandparents were making video calls, the pace of digital adoption has been remarkable. These changes would have still happened, but it would have taken more time.

India’s digital economy paints a much more lucrative story today. In this background, another plus for the likes of Facebook and Google, is their natural ability to work with the small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). The SMB sector is akin an untapped ocean for growth. There are millions of such players, who now have a chance to reach out to their consumers digitally. Facebook and Google have already been working with these for years.

When businesses transact on a platform, it is difficult to switch. In that sense, the groundwork done by these players has poised them for further growth.

Some conditions considered, such as the nature of content, advertising always follows eyeballs. The theory of supply and demand that decides which way the advertising dollar moves has been in favour of digital in India.

Even as the overall advertising market has shrunk, relatively speaking, digital is less impacted. In fact, it may even grow.

As per the DAN Digital Report, in India, nearly 75 per cent of digital spends are concentrated on Google and Facebook. Then there are about 10-12 other players that take another 14-15 per cent. These include Hotstar, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like. Nearly another 5,000-25,000 platforms fight for the remining 9-10 per cent.

That is the current market structure. And despite changing norms, I do not see a significant change in this. Players in the second-tier may change, TikTok for example is not in the set anymore and there is faster growth of players such as Amazon that will bring it to the second tier. The top two however will not be unseated in a hurry.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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magazine 23 aug 2020 tiktok Digital Players

Ashish Bhasin

The author is Chairman & CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia

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