For many years now we have been hearing that traditional advertising is not the way of the future, and of late we hear that the advent of paid news will make traditional PR untenable soon, and the only way ahead is online communication and all that it entails-emails, blogs, articles, social media posts, online video, and anything else IT comes up with. Is it really true? Are we completely and irrevocably going to move away from the familiar comfort of dispatching information through good old newspapers, television, radio, magazines and so on. In India where the newspaper industry continues to grow on the back of many more millions emerging from poverty and being able to buy and read newspapers, albeit the vernacular ones such a scenario seems very unlikely for a long time to come. The similar growth and decentralization of television channels in different parts of the country would also point to the continuing growth and relevance of traditional media.
This is however contrary to the trend in the western world where traditional media seem to be increasingly struggling to keep pace with the onslaught of modern online media-exemplified by the purchase of The Washington Post by Jeff Bezoz, founder and CEO of Amazon. The importance of online communication is undoubtedly far more pronounced over there with ever expanding budgets being allocated for effectively leveraging the medium which is becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex. India is woefully inadequate in terms of Internet connectivity with a mere 12.6% of the population having access; but in terms of sheer numbers at 74 million users it is at a highly impressive number three worldwide. In terms of their purchasing power these 12.6% members of the Indian users pack an almighty punch, forming as they do the crème de la crème of the Indian society, whose spending patterns fully replicate those of their Western counterparts. It follows therefore that online communications has increasingly become an important component of any marketing strategy.
What promises to be a game-changer in online communications in India however is the emergence of smart mobile phones as a platform for receiving the Internet. With a gargantuan mobile phone subscriber base of 900 million, the possibilities for Internet commerce are immense. Already mobile handset manufacturers and mobile telephone service providers have respectively started creating cheaper smart phones and subscription plans to tap into these colossal numbers. The advantages of using online media over the traditional forms of media are clear and obvious. From costing a fraction of what the use of traditional media entails, to a more intimate interaction with the target audience by way of direct feedback and the possibility of exact measurement of impact created, online media wins hands down an all important markers of efficiency and effectiveness.
So notwithstanding the parallel growth of traditional media on account of demographic changes in India’s vast interiors, online communications is going to lead the charge in reaching out to people in a more direct and effective way. With mass scale Internet connectivity through mobile phones promising to change the landscape and demographics of Internet usage in India we seem to be sitting on the cusp of an e commerce revolution.