Vernacular ads: The Next Big Step in the Digital Industry

-Regional languages are providing marketers with a perfect landscape to reach, and target them effectively.

- The growth in the digital industry today stands at– Video, Voice, and Vernacular.

- Brands are focusing on regional ads intending to connect and speak to their audience.

While internet penetration deepens across tier 2 and 3 cities, the demand for regional content has been growing at a trajectory speed. In the last few years, regional content has led to a surge in media consumption among native people, and the COVID-19 induced lockdown has further accelerated the thirst for more content among viewers. At a time when there was a shortage of content during the lockdown, it opened an opportunity for regional content creators to showcase their work.

As per the Google KPMG report, the Indian internet user base will increase to 735 million by 2021. Indian language internet users are expected to grow at a CAGR of 18% to reach 536 million by 2021, while English users are expected to grow at only 3% reaching 199 million within the same period. The growth opportunity for brands lies in the regional markets.

This has led advertisers to prioritise their ad spends accordingly, in which regional spends have seen an upward rise in the latter half of the year. This year as well, the trend will continue to grow.

If we look at the recent internet consumption figures, rural India had 2 million more active internet users than urban India. Hence, which showcases that urban Hinglish speaking audience is challenged by rural areas’ multilingual culture. This offers a huge growth potential to target these Indian language Internet users, which are expected to touch nearly 75 percent of India’s internet user base by 2021.

With the increasing reach of content to every corner of the world, brands have started realising the potential. While defining the advertising strategies, brands are effectively focusing on regional ads to diversify their reach and talk to their audience in the affable regional expression with the right regional nuance. If one watch out these trends closely, you will realise that once an advertisement is released and appears on TV, the same is translated into vernacular and routed to multiple TV channels, regional newspaper and other formats. The basic objective behind this is the appetite for regional content is growing exponentially among consumers. Regional languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada and Malayalam, among others are providing marketers with a perfect place to reach, and target them.

Vernacular has tasted the flavour of digital advertising, advertisers want to reach a different set of audiences and want to be assured that every single penny is delivering the message. The huge boom in regional content is all possible due to the affordable internet connection, and availability of smartphones. This phenomenon has witnessed a notable difference in taste in content and consumption preferences.

However, while disseminating any content form on digital media, deciding the format is quite important because the digital transformational journey of rural consumers would be faster than that of urban consumers. For example, 90% of video consumption happens in local languages which provides a considerable platform for vernacular digital advertising to take off.

For example, Local trends can be communicated much better in vernacular, what is relevant for Chennai may not work for Punjab as communication or as an offering, hence using vernacular to communicate gives a brand much needed local connect with the audiences while creating stronger bonds. Many automated tools are being developed by media companies to make this happen, however the same is only the adaptation to local language and no local flavour is being developed. The key to success lies when brands behave locally in every geography.

With a wide range of content being available online, digital platforms are reconstructing their content strategies as well. However, not all is so good around vernacular ads and there are few challenges are lying ahead of us. The marketing teams for most of the brands are central and based out of the metro's, there is no one at the brand end to check and give qualitative output. Brand teams further take feedback from the regional sales teams making this overall process lengthy and hectic, hence most of the brands continue to avid vernacular content. Even most of the agencies today are not well equipped, translation to vernacular is one thing that is still easy but making locally relevant content is something that no agency in the country can crack.

There are opportunity and competition both for marketers to closely analyse the proliferation of such diverse audiences, their demographics and behaviours and launch content based on the preference of metropolitan and non-metropolitan content.

The Future lies in vernacular but the overall ecosystem at agencies and brands is at a very nascent stage, brands will gradually increase their budgets and agencies will develop this ecosystem. The first-mover advantage will lie with any brand or agency who take up this space early and develop their leadership.