The Rs 1,850-crore Indian online advertising market, estimated by Avendus Capital to reach Rs 7,000 crore by 2015, is set to witness aggressive action from Google. The advertising pie may be large but global majors like Google and Facebook are the biggest beneficiaries - accounting for 29 per cent of direct ad spends and 55-60 per cent of overall spends. "While Google has dominated the search advertising market and the advertising network space to an extent, Facebook has gained a large share of the display advertising market," says a report of Avendus Capital.
Display advertising appears on web pages in many forms, including web banners. These banners can consist of static or animated images, as well as interactive media that may include audio and video elements.
But Google is not ready to play second fiddle. It has invested $4 billion in acquisitions of display advertising firms since 2007, including $3.2 billion for DoubleClick. Last week, it announced a $400-million deal for Admeld, which helps website publishers manage the sale of display ads. It has also said 1,000 of its engineers are working on display technology. Google's vice-president of Display Advertising, Neal Mohan, said, "Given Google's knowledge and success in search, we have created a one-stop digital shop that would allow agencies and firms to immediately and intelligently buy ad-space based on real-time viewing data."
Just as Facebook introduced the 'like' button on its network, Google launched the '+1' button that has been installed on a million websites across the web, with four billion impressions being made daily. "In October, we expanded '+1' to be included on our display ads on both desktop and mobile. For the first time, you will be able to run social-enabled ad campaigns that work across millions of sites in 40 countries," said Mohan.
Citibank and Castrol ran successful campaigns during the World Cup on Google Display network. Partners like Airtel, who was the main sponsor of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament, created a brand channel alongside their TV campaign to build a branded community of cricket fans across the country. "The initiative got half a million views, with 2,400 videos uploaded by fans for the contest. This channel is now Airtel's branded destination for cricket fans, and they use the platform to promote their campaigns," says Mohan. Sure enough, spending on Google Display Network from the largest 1,000 advertisers has doubled in the last 12 months.
Google believes by incorporating personal recommendations into display ads, it has the potential to change the way people view advertising.
A display ad becomes much more powerful when people can see which of their friends and contacts have chosen to endorse it.
Mohan reasoned that Indian partners have emphasised on the need to have a simpler system that enables publishers to manage and sell their ad space - across desktop, video, mobile, tablets and more. "We want to give publishers more control over their ad space and offer more flexible ways to manage and sell it," he said.
Most display advertisers use cookie and browser history to determine demographics and interests of users and target relevant ads to those browsers. Aashish Bhinde, executive director (Digital Media & Technology), Avendus Capital, said, "We expect Google to maintain its dominant position in the near future, but it will face stiff competition from Facebook in display advertising. While ad networks are gradually gaining traction, they are not likely to increase their share of the pie till there are more online properties that can compete with Google and Facebook."
With Indian users expected to spend up to nine per cent of their time online in 2015, internet advertising and essentially the rich media forms of advertising such as display ads have become critical for brands and marketers.