Almost 600 million users in India are now accessing the open internet, reveals the findings report titled, ‘Gateway to the Open Internet,’ published by global advertising technology firm The Trade Desk and Kantar.
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. Unlike walled gardens (social media websites), the open internet is free and is not controlled by any individual, business, or government body. It reaches 62 million more users than the closed ecosystems of the walled gardens. In 2022, the study states that four in five consumers (80 percent) increased their consumption of the open internet.
Time spent on open internet rises, but advertising spend falls short
The report reveals that 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 percent) 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 percent) of India’s digital ad budget.
Premium and local content spur growth of the open internet
According to the research, as many as 45 percent 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 percent and 39 percent 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 fueling the adoption of the open internet. These outperform western content, with Hindi content (77 percent) dominating amongst OTT/CTV viewers, followed by local languages (52 percent) and western content (50 percent).
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 percent more likely to be perceived as premium, compared to video ads on walled gardens. In addition, consumers are also 17 percent more likely to purchase products advertised on news/websites, compared to ads on social media.
Users actively access open internet on a daily basis
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 a.m. and 9 a.m., activity on news/websites exceeded the average usage across all channels by 72 percent.
Overall digital media consumption spikes in the evenings between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m. Enjoying content on OTT/CTV is fast becoming a social activity. In fact, 40 percent 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 p.m. to 9 p.m., when four in five (80 percent) viewers consume OTT content alongside their partners and other family members. During this time, smart TV usage increases by 42 percent. As smart TV adoption grows, this OTT prime time presents a key opportunity for advertisers to engage households and co-viewing occasions.
Open internet offers transparency to advertisers
Tejinder Gill, General Manager, The Trade Desk, India tells Storyboard18 that as consumers spend more and more time on the open internet, it's becoming an increasingly important platform for advertisers to reach their target audience. This is particularly true in India, that's seeing significant growth in over-the-top (OTT) video consumption, with 40 percent of daily OTT viewing occurring between 7pm and midnight.
“We expect to see more brands taking advantage of the open internet for their advertising campaigns. The CPG (consumer packaged goods) vertical, in particular, has been quick to embrace the potential of the open internet for advertising.
Gill also argues that as walled gardens do not offer full transparency and limited access to measurement, attribution, and reporting data for campaigns across channels, marketers are faced with the inability to measure performance, and to understand what really works, at a granular level.