Fuelled by a growing base of online users, digital advertising spend in the regional media is set to grow from $300 million in 2018 to $3 billion by 2023, said a report titled ‘Vernacular is NOW, not the future’ by RedSeer Consulting.

Facebook and Google currently account for 80 per cent of Indian digital advertising spend.

According to the report that is based on three months of research involving 3,000 people across 121 cities and towns in India, the country has 530 million users who have access to the internet, of which 260 million users are monetisable, which includes 210 million vernacular users. Interestingly, although these 210 million users with an annual spending power of $300 billion prefer vernacular content they are forced to access Facebook in English because of the poor quality of online vernacular content.

“Through this research, we found that India has added internet users at 8X speed in the past 10 years, driven by small towns and villages and not by large cities where users are entering the digital ecosystem due to access, affordability and aspirations. The top 50 cities today account for less than 20 per cent of the internet user base, which will continue to decrease as a percentage of overall internet user base in the next five years. In this context, it becomes important for advertisers to look at the user base from a monetisability lens and understand how the time spent by these users on internet is changing as vernacular platforms now account for 56 per cent of the overall time spent on social media,” said Anil Kumar, founder CEO, RedSeer Consulting.

Early movers

A few new age businesses have already taken the first step towards incorporating vernacular users and tap into this high potential digital ad market. Ola provides support in 12 languages that covers majority of its tier-2 plus users and 25 per cent of Paytm users interact in regional languages as the app supports 11 languages.

“Given the growth of vernacular platforms like Dailyhunt and TikTok, both in terms of user base and time spent, we expect a fundamental shift in the digital ad spend where these platforms take a larger share of the pie,” said Ujjwal Chaudhry, Director, RedSeer Consulting, who headed the overall research and analysis for this report. “Also, as watching short format videos account for 30-40 per cent of the time spent on these platforms, we expect the ad revenue from video ads to grow from current 20 per cent of digital ad spend to 40 per cent, ” he added .


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