How can digital content creation in Indian languages be made commercially viable and at the same time, user-friendly for audiences spread across the country? This is a dilemma that has been looming large on the minds of advertisers, publishers and marketers. The Quint, one of India’s leading and fastest-growing digital content platforms sought to unravel this very predicament with a panel discussion entitled,
“But where is the money?” at the “Bol: Love Your Bhasha” event on 18 September, 2018.
The panel discussion saw Virendra Gupta, Founder and CEO of Daily Hunt, Anant Goenka, Executive Director of The Indian Express, Ritu Kapur, CEO and Co-founder of Quintillion Media, Jaivir Nagi, Director of Online Partnerships at Google and Aditi Mishra, Chief Strategy Officer at IPG Media brands in attendance. The panel was moderated by Sanjay Pugalia, President and Editorial Director at the Quintillion Media group.
During the panel discussion, Ritu Kapur, CEO and Founder of Quintillion Media said, “It is about time the publishers change their outlook. By not considering themselves inferior, the regional media must take itself seriously, and strive for distinct and quality content. This will help yield better conversion over brand campaigns.”
Answering why Hindi does not get an equal rate in the same market as English, Anant Goenka said, “Local languages are sold at a premium in countries abroad to both the readers and advertisers, English is sold at a lower rate. Even in Japan, I believe, that is the trend but in India, it is the opposite. We sell local language advertisements at a much cheaper rate. But maybe once you open it up, there could be a lot more ad inventories.”
The panel agreed on the fact that the advertising agencies need to educate brands to think beyond reach and frequency. The idea that there is lesser buying power with Hindi or regional readers is a flawed argument as the distribution of income is higher in the regional language markets.
“The onus lies on agencies to educate the advertisers to think much beyond reach and frequency. This idea of less buying power doesn’t cut across,” Anant added.
Talking about a brighter future for local languages, Virendra Gupta said, “When you talk of regional languages, we all should believe that we are building for the future. Today, we are a 2 trillion dollar economy. We will be a 6 trillion dollar economy in the next few years. Marketers will want to spend money on regional languages in the future, there is a gap right now but it will equalise eventually.”
Commenting on hiccups on the technological front, Aditi Mishra said that the seamless shift from English to a regional language is possibly robbing regional languages of their opportunities. “For example, if I am a Bengali, I would want an English advertisement I am watching to be in Bengali. That seamless shift with the help of technology will help me reach a regional language market and audience better,” she added.
Reflecting on challenges from the advertiser’s point of view, the panel mentioned that the largest advertisers today only have English brand websites which restrict their distribution of content. Jaivir Nagi said, “Very few brands publish advertisements in regional languages. If they have a Tamil page with English lead form, it moots the point and hence, the experience is broken for the users.” Jaivir suggested that, as a corrective measure, advertisers can work on fixing their own digital assets.