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Heeru Dingra

It can be evidently seen that advertisers and marketing companies have gradually started realising the significance of regional content and the level of engagement it brings in.

In its recent research, ‘Digital, Diverse & Multilingual India’, WATConsult has stated that this year end will see 70% of users accessing the internet in their preferred dialect.

Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult, believes that the current landscape presents itself as an opportunity for the creators to concrete their presence in the Indian market by producing content as per the rising needs and demands of the consumers.

Also, the growing internet population and its penetration in the semi-urban and rural areas, as per Dingra, give advertisers a chance to widen their reach.

“Local-language digital advertising is set to grow and the spends will increase with market leaders and multi-national giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon focusing on the localisation,” she added.

Many local language-led platforms (video and audio streaming apps) are also seen garnering a much higher traction with their native offerings. Some social media app companies are now enabling the users to connect and chat with fellow like-minded individuals by giving them a platform that has multi-lingual options.

She said with an increase in internet usage among Indians, there is an all-time high demand for localised content.

Asked if the recent emerging sentiments among consumers towards local brands and the ban on Chinese apps, etc., have pushed more for the demand of vernacular content, she said, “Yes, off late there has been a held-back demand for the varied language content in India and consumers have an inclination towards the consumption of more such entertainment. Even after the ban on TikTok, most people have shifted to other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. It is pertinent to know that there has always been a significant demand for preferred regional language while consuming content and with the initiatives like vocal for local and Atmanirbhar (self-reliant), businesses and brands have, indeed, been pushed to adopt ‘regional’ with further vigour.”

The report says more than one-fourth of the users feel the search results in their local language are inaccurate.

And, therefore, Dingra feels that there are more opportunities for local publishers to come forward with their credible local content.

She said, “There are opportunities for the local publishers to come forward as more credible sources with their localised offerings, but they also need to address the inherent issues such as instant language translations of websites and webpages. Moreover, every single element on the webpage, like the menu options, header, footer, etc., must be streamlined in the same language for it to serve as a viable option. There is also a need for these local publishers to create more refined translations and mechanisms that have built-in support for various language options.”

The report said most Indians prefer to access the web in Hindi, Punjabi and Tamil, apart from English. Mostly, brands belonging to the categories of instant messaging, video streaming, music streaming and travel apps are the ones that are preferred in various lingos by the users. Interestingly, brands that provide such varied services find it comparatively easier to increase their user/consumer base.

Although, seems like the e-commerce brands have already realised the potential of the regional languages and have started building products to utilise that same potential.

Ahead of the festive season and with the surge in consumption amid the pandemic, multiple e-comm players, including Amazon and Flipkart, have introduced new local languages, including Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, etc., for a better customer experience and intake.

There are, however, as per Dingra, very limited options for the consumers to switch between English and their language of choice, while shopping on e-comm, in general.

“There are technological challenges that e-commerce brands witness while developing products such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and refined translations support. India is a diverse country with multiple dialects, making it a mammoth of a task and extremely challenging to process and train data for so many languages. But hopefully, the rapid advancement in this domain will result in the overall inclusivity of Internet in India very soon,” she added.

Other than e-commerce, according to the study, a majority of Indians prefer watching content around food, entertainment and education in their local language.

So, what scope do short and long-content video apps have in the near future?

Dingra answered this by saying that there is a lot of scope when it comes to watching a video in a more relatable dialect, both in long and short versions.

“There is a digital push on mobile streaming to attract more eyeballs. Even the audience has a lot of options to choose from and certainly Indian consumers are embracing the change. Going by the current trends, video and audio tailored to the regional dialects and cultures will gain more traction, and easy-to-consume short video formats will be the low hanging fruits in the near future,” she added.