'Indian internet has clearly hit inflection point'
Rajan Anandan quit as managing director at Microsoft India to be an entrepreneur. Instead, after a six-month gap musing on what to do, he took charge as managing director of Google India in a role that focuses on revenues from media advertising rather than technology evangelism that he did in his previous job. In an interview to HT, the Sri Lankan-born who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, discussed his changed role, and what Google is looking for in India. Excerpts.
How is the market for internet advertising in India?
The Indian internet has clearly hit an inflection point. At the end of 2010 India crossed 100 million internet users, which makes it the third largest internet market in the world. The interesting point is that only 30 million of them access the Net from home and over 40 million access it at work. Another 30 million do it from cyber cafes.
On an average Net users spend close to 16 hours a week online. This is higher than the average time an Indian viewer spends watching TV, which is 14 hours a week.
Online advertising that was virtually non-existent three-four years ago has crossed Rs1,000 crore and the entire advertising industry was around Rs25,000 crore last year. The online ad market is expected to touch Rs 5,000 crore by 2015.
So what lies ahead for you?
We want to dramatically expand our emerging businesses. Our video-sharing site YouTube now gets around 20 million unique visitors in a month. If you take the 15-45 year age group and combine it with time spent watching videos, YouTube is the eleventh largest television channel in India.
We are actively partnering with content producers such as Bollywood (studios). As we think about going from 100 million to 300 million internet users, video entertainment is going to be the biggest driver because one does not even need to be literate to be a consumer.
Also the mobile is an important advertisement medium as we can target a user based on his particular brand of phone, data plan and carrier.
How will you scale it up?
YouTube, for instance would involve tying up with content producers. We will do some distribution deals. The Google display network is about publishers. We have signed around 50,000 publishers and we work with all the carriers (telecom). We have 22 of the 25 largest advertisers in India.
That brings us to Android (smartphone/tablet operating system). Are you satisfied with its growth in India?
Android is not big as smartphones themselves are not big in India yet. We want to take smartphones from being niche to the mainstream. The sweet spot of the Indian phone market is around Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 (per handset) Our objective is to open up the market such that we would want it to explode.
If you have an unlimited data plan with a Rs 3,000 smartphone you can see Bollywood videos all day all through your life.