Internet as a media has arrived: Hitesh Oberoi

18 May,2012

Hitesh Oberoi is  Chairman- IAMAI and CEO and Managing Director, Info Edge. In conversation with MxMIndia’s Robin Thomas on the sidelines of the IAMAI’s marketing conclave recently, Mr Oberoi spoke about the changing dynamics of internet and mobile in India, the trends to watch out for and much more.


For long we have been referring to internet as a new medium. Would you still regard the internet as a ‘new’ medium?

I don’t think internet is a new media any more, but a media which has arrived. There are already more than 120 million online users and this number will grow to 400 million in the next three to five years. Therefore, I don’t think internet is a new medium any more nor a medium that can be ignored.


Has there been a shift in perception over the years among advertisers about the internet and mobile as media vehicles?

Advertisers are definitely taking the internet a lot more seriously today simply because of the growing number of online and mobile users. With the kind of targeting options and the kind of measurement options, the internet offers have brought more and more advertisers on board. In addition to this, the internet is not only one of the cheapest medium to advertise but, also provides better ROIs to advertisers. So certainly these are some of the factors leading more advertisers to the internet.


What about a credible measurement system? Why do we lack still one today?

There are some challenges, there are different methods used by different measurement providers but, I think they realize that internet is getting big in India and are, perhaps, working towards a better measurement system. So very soon we should have a credible measurement system in India.


What according to you are the opportunities and possible threats or challenges that 3G and 4G services could have for mobile advertising in India?

As the internet grows faster, people will spend more and more time on the internet. Penetration and the speed of access are the two things needed for bringing in more people to mobile internet. What 3G and 4G will do is, improve the speed of access and when the speed of access increases, a user will be able to download content faster. So, a combination of faster internet on mobile, quick downloads, and good quality content and so on will lead mobile internet to a different level altogether.


And the lessons that India can learn from their international counterparts on internet and mobile advertising?

One thing we should be investing in is the internet economy. The truth is that internet is a great medium for consumers, and it is a great medium for small and medium enterprises to build their business. Internet is a great leveler of the two India’s (urban and rural). Just as the telecom revolution which has led to people being empowered, the same could happen on the internet. So, I think the lesson we can learn from the United States and China is that we need to invest more and more in broadband and we need to make it cheap for people, so that many more can get onto the internet.


Any specific trends to watch out for in the digital media space?

There will be many more people on the internet five years from now, Indians will spend more time on the internet and probably they will spend most of their time online, therefore, marketers cannot afford to not be online. In fact, a lot more access to internet will take place through mobile phones. So while in this phase, more people are accessing internet through their PC or desktop, the next phase of internet growth will come from mobile. Therefore, marketers need to adapt to these changes accordingly. These changes may take a while but, undoubtedly digital is the way forward.


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