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Google India turns media hungry

Given that Google’s India managing director Rajan Anandan hopped in from Microsoft, his jump should be worrying Steve Ballmer, CEO of the software rival. But it looks like media baron Rupert Murdoch could be the one to bother.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2011 22:39 IST
N Madhavan & Vivek Sinha

Given that Google’s India managing director Rajan Anandan hopped in from Microsoft, his jump should be worrying Steve Ballmer, CEO of the software rival. But it looks like media baron Rupert Murdoch could be the one to bother.

At the recent Goafest, the Sri Lankan-born Anandan hung out with chief marketing officers, not chief information officers, defining his shift of focus to the media industry, thanks to content being consumed on smartphones, tablets and online videos.

Google’s trumpcard is YouTube, the online video site, while mobile ads on smartphones and partnerships with Web publishers drive display advertisements — which are spelling for revenue opportunities beyond its conventional search ads.

To aid display ads – in which Yahoo is the main rival – Google has 50,000 Web publishing partners in India, while its AdMob platform snares mobile consumers.

“YouTube is the largest English TV channel in India,” Anandan told HT in an interview, likening the video-sharing site to a cable TV channel watched by the same 15-44 age demographic segment.

Google’s media bets rests on some hard numbers.

While India has only 11 million broadband users, aided by cyber cafes and officer surfers, India has an estimated 100 million internet users, expected to triple soon, Anandan said. Online ad revenues that topped R1,000 crore last year are growing at 50%. YouTube gets around 20 million unique users a month in India , up 60 % on the year.

Google is busy tying up with content partners such as Bollywood producers for YouTube on which a million people tuned in to watch last year’s blockbuster Dabangg sponsored by Hindustan Unilever.

Be it YouTube, Web or mobile content, Google’s secret sauce is its software-driven data mining that aids precise targeting of ads.

“Our model offers the best return of investments for their advertisements,” Anandan said.