42 mn Indian netizens by March 2007
Internet users in India—37 million at last count in September—will grow to 42 million by March, estimates the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI).
Indians also undertake over a billion searches each month, according to a report—'The State of Search Engine Marketing in India'—by the IMAI, a trade body of online content, advertising, e-commerce, mobile content and advertising industry.
The IMAI said it did not get any data from search engines or advertisers, both "famously quiet about disclosing their numbers".
The report said that 85 per cent of all individual travel now starts first from a trip to the web and that a person can never have too many 'keywords' for a website.
Search engines have announced that almost half of the queries are new and have never been asked before. So websites have to keep adding to their "pile of keywords".
Travel sites routinely buy and deploy over three million keywords each on search marketing campaigns, added the IMAI report.
It was found that longer phrases work better in searches. Someone looking for "sea view hotel room in Mumbai" is making a more precise and less expensive request than just asking for a "hotel room".
The report said it was not just job portals that use search marketing. Companies now directly reach out to candidates by using these engines.
Tech companies tend to be big ad buyers on the web because their consumers do online research before a purchase decision. Today's marketers don't ask, "Can I reach my customer?" They ask instead, "Can I be found when my customer is searching for me?"
Marriage is also a big business online, the report said. A new generation of Indians is turning to the Net to find their spouse.
Some of the biggest advertisers online are the big portals. They're hoping to attract traffic that stays with them, so that they don't need to buy paid search a second time round.
Globally, the web is estimated to have some 100 billion pages—more than 16 pages for every man, woman and child alive. It is therefore essential to have easier mechanisms to categorise pages to make them user-friendly.
An Indian advertiser, on average, pays Rs 16.20 (36 US cents) per click. The highest cost per click paid by an advertiser in India was Rs 266!
The IMAI found that the top sectors among 292 Internet advertisers in India were automobiles, banking and financial services with dating and matrimonial ads in the third place.
Education, general online, jobs, media, NGOs, property, retail and e-commerce, technology and travel came next in the order of preference.
"We analysed all data that was in the public domain by running searches, noting the presence of ads, assigning value to the ads and making some rather involved calculations. We did the online equivalent of what a TV ad index or media auditor does," said the IMAI.