Google takes unique approach in India

01 April 2009

BANGALORE: Google is focusing on promoting its social networking, search and mobile capabilities in India as it seeks to "target emerging users" and drive revenue growth in a highly varied digital market.

Asia is home to several highly advanced digital markets, but also some countries where penetration rates are much lower, meaning that multinational firms need to take a nuanced approach in each nation, a strategy seemingly adopted by Google.

While the company's managing director in India,
Shailesh Rao, says Google has "a leadership position in the search space" in the country, there are currently only 55.5 million web users in India, compared with 376 million mobile users.

As such, the search giant has developed a number of targeted mobile strategies, including providing a search tool on the mobile web, which is accessible on the 15% to 20% of phones in the country connected to third generation networks.

It also offers a text message-based search service, and a search system based on voice messages for consumers with the most basic handsets.

Based on these initiatives, it has seen a "significant increase of mobile search users" this year, according to its Indian head of products, Vinay Goel.

He argues that its users will "graduate from plain voice search to an SMS-based one and finally to internet-based search, which is our goal" as digital technology penetration rates rise across the country.

The US company also owns Orkut, one of India's most popular social networking services, and has closely integrated the site with its search portal and video-sharing property YouTube, as well as making it available on mobile phones.

In terms of advertising strategy, Google is aiming to help Indian businesses "become more efficient and go global," according to Rao.

This includes working with advertisers and agencies to help regional brands become more nationally-focused, and creating teams in the fields of financial services, travel, telecom, media and entertainment and classifieds to assist its clients in the areas of strategic development.

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by WARC staff