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Open internet reaching almost 600 million users in India: The Trade Desk and Kantar report

As per the report, 52 % of consumers’ digital media time is on the open internet, and that number is rising

The open internet has gained prominence in India and is reaching 600 million users, as per the ‘Gateway to the Open Internet’ research report published by The Trade Desk and Kantar.

As per the report, this is 62 million more than walled gardens. The open internet — comprising news and general websites, over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV), music streaming and online gaming — has witnessed accelerated growth, it said. 

It goes on to add that in the last year, four in five consumers (80%) increased their consumption of the open internet.

Time spent on open internet rises, but advertising spend falls short

While more users consume content on the open internet, digital advertising in India has not capitalised on its rapid growth. Based on the research, half (52 %) of the 307 hours that the average consumer spends on digital media per month is on the open internet.

This marks a shift away from walled gardens such as social media, user-generated content (UGC) platforms, and live game streaming. However, walled gardens still command five and half times (5.5x) more ad spend in India, compared to the open internet, which accounts for a fraction (15 %) of India’s digital ad budget. 

“Some of the best content we enjoy comes from the open internet, and almost all of this is funded by advertising. The disconnect between consumer time spent and ad spend on the open internet demonstrates a significant opportunity for today’s marketers,” said Tejinder Gill, General Manager, India, The Trade Desk. “This report identifies massive opportunities for those looking to advertise on the open internet, where they can reach a more engaged audience.” 

Premium and local content spur growth of the open internet

According to the research, as many as 45% of Indians prefer to consume professionally produced, premium content, which lives on the open internet. Specifically, OTT/CTV and music streaming platforms are most associated with premium and credible content. As such, 44% and 39% of respondents, expect their usage on OTT/CTV and music streaming to increase significantly, in the next six months.

The research further highlights a clear preference for Hindi and local language content, which is fuelling the adoption of the open internet. These outperform western content, with Hindi content (77%) dominating amongst OTT/CTV viewers, followed by local languages (52%) and western content (50%).

The nation’s focus on premium and local content also has a ripple effect on how users view brands that advertise on the open internet. In fact, brands advertising on OTT/CTV are 33% more likely to be perceived as premium, compared to video ads on walled gardens. In addition, consumers are also 17% more likely to purchase products advertised on news/websites, compared to ads on social media.

The open internet is an integral part of a consumer’s life

Media on the open internet is rooted in consumers’ daily lives. In fact, data reveals that consumption of the open internet is higher than that of walled gardens when there is downtime, such as before lunch and after work. On average, people in Delhi reportedly spend 57 minutes for a one-way commute to work, during which they browse news/websites. As a result, between 5 am and 9 am, activity on news/websites exceeded the average usage across all channels by 72%.

Overall digital media consumption spikes in the evenings between 7 pm and 12 am. Enjoying content on OTT/CTV is fast becoming a social activity. In fact, 40% of daily OTT viewing occurs during this time, commanding the largest proportion across all channels.

Specifically, the peak period for co-viewing is from 7 pm to 9 pm, when four in five (80%) viewers consume OTT content alongside their partners and other family members. During this time, smart TV usage increases by 42%. As smart TV adoption grows, this OTT prime time presents a key opportunity for advertisers to engage households and co-viewing occasions. 

This research report has been released before the fireside chat, “The future of advertising – powered by the open internet” at ad:tech New Delhi, featuring Archana Aggarwal, VP Brand, Airtel; Atique Kazi, President - Data, Performance and Digital Products, GroupM India, and Rahul Singh, Director, Business Development, The Trade Desk.

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