A country-wide shift to smartphones
Coupled with this rapid growth of ad traffic is an aggressive transformation of the marketplace from one dominated by less capable feature phones to a transformational market, with Android devices emerging as the market leader.
While India is still one of the global leaders in retaining older feature phone models, and the Symbian platform continues to hang on, it is significant to note that iOS struggles to make inroads.
Overall, however, mobile users are shifting to “smart” devices — and with that transformation comes an increasing numbers of interactions with mobile services and advertising.
As with many markets, we see major differences when we view market share based on the number of unique devices, the number of impressions served or the amount of revenue earned (eCPM).
India is no exception to this rule, and, as shown below, while Android follows other devices (predominantly feature phones) in market share, it is the clear leader in impressions served and revenue production.
However, we can also see that iOS clearly outpaces the competition for its ability to produce ad revenue on a fairly small market share, producing over 2% of total revenue on just 0.5% of total ad impressions.
Mobile stores see high volumes – Games and education most popular
India differentiates itself from other countries and regions in many other respects, as well. For example, when comparing the top mobile site categories supported by Opera Mediaworks’ advertising technologies globally, India presents a significantly different mix of media types.
In both our global and India markets, social sites and apps lead the mix. However, India shows a significantly higher use of mobile app store sites (most with significant mobile games catalogs), gaming and education-oriented sites. Interest in Music and other streaming media sites fall well below our global average, along with News & Information, and Arts & Entertainment.
It is also significant to note that many of these sites and apps are accessed through a mobile operator/carrier portal, which is very different from our experience in the United States. and Europe, but more common in Asia and Africa.
Banners dominate, but rich media delivers revenue
The site category types and their accompanying user experience models, when coupled with a device mix that remains predominantly feature phone, result in advertising models significantly different than those experienced in the United States and parts of Europe.
For example, simple banner ads dominate the Indian market, with only 3.2% of impressions being rich-media creative. It is very promising to see, though, that over 26% of revenue comes from rich media, and it clearly shows the huge potential for this market as more users adopt advanced device platforms.
Games, mobile devices also top advertisers, representing nearly half of all ad impressions
The dominant advertisers in the market focus on selling games and mobile devices, at 25.5% and 22.7%, respectively. Classifieds are also an important part of the ad economy, with about 1 in 5 ad impressions being for items like cars and bicycles via classified ads.
The mobile audience in India — Young and male
Through our research on the market we found the India audience is predominantly young and male. The 18-24 age group accounts for over 60% of all users, while males make up 82%.
Mobile-ad engagement is higher on weekends
Over 64% of users access mobile sites and apps on a weekly basis. The most popular period for these interactions is during the weekend, with a slightly lower tendency to engage at mid-week. This day-of-week fluctuation is driven to a large extent by older feature phone users who show a much more pronounced decrease in activity at mid-week than do Android users.
1 in 5 are high-frequency users, receive >60% of ad impressions
During the week we classify about half of unique users (49.5%) as “occasional” users. These users access the mobile web 1 or 2 days per week. The next largest group of users (28.9%), is regular users (using the mobile web 3,4 or 5 days per week). Finally, 21.6% are frequent users (accessing 6 or 7 days per week). Over 60% of impressions are served to users classified as “frequent”.
How is the Android audience different, and why does that matter?
Because so much of today’s ad traffic in India is driven by older technology feature phones, we thought it instructive to look specifically at user behavior on Android devices.
As with the total audience, Android users flock to social-networking sites and apps. Disregarding this category, however, leads to several observed differences in audience behavior. First, it is significant to note that interest in app stores and carrier portals is far less for the Android audience than for the audience in general. We believe this is the result of two factors. Primarily, it is likely caused by the heavy reliance feature phone users have on their carrier portals and different mobile stores and portals for content. It is also likely a reflection of our customer base, which does not include Google Play.
Therefore, to gain more clarity into the different behavior exhibited by the Android audience, we have eliminated the category from the graphic view, to the right. The resulting differences in user behavior between the total India audience and the India Android audience are marked.
Android users are far more likely to engage with Arts & Entertainment, News & Information, as well as Business, Finance & Investing sites and apps than the audience in general.
When these facts are considered in light of the revenue generation and monetization potential for these categories we see on a global basis, a critical opportunity emerges for the marketplace, as it transitions to Android and other more advanced devices.
On a global basis, Arts & Entertainment and News & Information combine to generate over 30% of the revenue managed on our platform. Compare this with the just over 4% of revenue we see for these categories in India. However, when we compare our global ad traffic with India’s Android audience interest, we see more similarity and, therefore, great opportunity.
As the chart above shows, India’s Android audience interest in News & Information sites is much more closely comparable to our experience delivering ad impressions globally than is the total Indian audience.
News & Information publishers collectively account for just over 13% of the revenue we manage for publishers globally. This is far above the 6.7% we see in India.
However, this opportunity pales in comparison to that presented by the Arts & Entertainment category. As shown on the chart above (which disregards traffic from social and application store and portal sites), the Android audience in India for Arts & Entertainment is larger than what we experience for ad traffic globally.
Globally, these publishers account for just under 8% of traffic (12% disregarding social, app and portal) but they generate 17.6% of the total revenue managed by our platform.
The mobile advertising opportunity in India
We believe the future is bright for the mobile advertising business in India. This market continues to grow aggressively and is rapidly transitioning to advanced smartphone platforms, led by Android.With this growth and technological transformation, we believe the market presents tremendous opportunity for mobile sites and applications focused on delivering richer experiences in categories with higher monetization potential, as we’ve witnessed on a global level.