Does Google need to advertise its Search product in India?

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What’s the point of making such a costly three and a half minutes long ad film when Google anyways has a 97% market share in search in India?‘ asked  @HalfRebel  in a thought provoking article.  He went on to explain that vertical apps on smartphones and tablets may chip away at Google Search’s utility. Going by our own behaviour that makes sense – when a smartphone user wants to search for a movie, chances are he will fire up the BookMyShow app and get not just a truck load of information (movie timings, movie synopsis & trailer) but even book tickets. Apps like Zomato, Foodpanda, JustEat also fulfil a similar need and help consumers bypass Google Search. However, apps like AroundMe and Localscope access data from Google (among other services in the case of Localscope).

While vertical apps are a reality, I feel such heavy dependency on them is restricted to tech savvy, mobile-app savvy consumers who may form a premium, but small segment. And if the app is a paid app its usage is likely to be further restricted in India. I think the following issues are also at play:

Educate the masses: the mobile phone boom in India is driven by smartphones of late. According to International Data Corporation’s (IDC) AP Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 9.3 million smartphones in 2Q13 compared to 3.5 million units in the same period of 2012. And as a senior analyst at IDC pointed out, ‘the key for growth in this market, as with most emerging markets, is a low-priced phone equipped with a large screen and dual SIM slots’.  The growth of Micromax, Karbonn and their success with lowe-priced phones stand testimony to this. It is natural to expect the buyers of such devices to be cautious when it comes to web usage, even more so app usage. My hunch is that they are big consumers of video on the phone. According to, 41% of Indian mobile app audience has a monthly income of Rs.5000-20,000. And 55% of the audience is outside of the 4 top metros. So there is still an opportunity to educate the first time smartphone buyer or the reluctant app user to use Google first and use Google more. I think the ad does a wonderful job of doing that – it teaches the masses the various ways in which Google can be used.

Halo effect: as I mentioned in my blog post earlier, the larger purpose is to build on the leadership stance. The unintended effect of such a great creative is also the passing on of the halo on to Google the brand. It makes the Google brand so much more attractive to current customers (of Android devices particularly), potential users and employees.

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