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Google warns of net complacency

News, 29 February 2016

HONG KONG: It is expected the internet will attract an additional two billion new users over the next five years and brands should prepare for the fact these people are likely to have a very different outlook, a senior Google executive has said.

Speaking at the Media360 summit in Hong Kong, Scott Beaumont, VP of Google Greater China, warned that the successful strategies brands employed for the first billion users of the internet may not work for the next billion.

"What works now will not for the next billion, as they comprise a very different socio-economic make-up," he said in comments reported by Campaign Asia.

"For example, they are mobile-first and, in many cases, mobile only. In Indonesia, mobile search makes up 70%, while in China 73% of internet users only use mobile as their primary device for internet access," he added.

With the next billion internet users likely to be young, urban and tech savvy, Beaumont said Google is trying to ensure that it does not become a victim of "accidental complacency" when it comes to engaging these new users.

Another important element to consider is that these future users are likely to come from emerging nations that have less developed telecom infrastructures. It will be necessary to factor this into any plans to engage with them.

By way of example, Beaumont pointed to a Google initiative to revamp its search function, which resulted in 33% quicker results that consumed one-tenth of the bandwidth.

"The reality was that as Google started offering a more media-rich experience, it also meant that it was harder to load and more expensive from a data-cost perspective," he said. "Our next billion users were not happy."

Beaumont went on to highlight the sheer scale of the potential market in Asia and the implications this has for the future development of the internet.

"In the US there are nine metropolitan areas with more than one million people. In China, there are 36 cities with more than 10 million people," he said.

"In India and Indonesia, the internet is older than the majority of users, yet they are the ones defining where it goes next, based on solutions at scale."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff