India’s Year in Search: 2016

Rajan Anandan / March 2017

2016 will be remembered as a transformational year for India. India emerged as the second largest internet and smartphone economy in the world—with over 350 million connected citizens and 220 million smartphone users.1 By popular demand from our partners and clients, we've dived into our tools and data to uncover some staggering insights.

Affordable access to high-speed internet turbocharged appetites and opened up a new online world for users across the length and breadth of the country. This has led to a fundamental shift in how Indians find information, make decisions, engage with people, and make themselves heard. For example, more and more people are turning to search for highly contextual and hyperlocal queries such as “how to” and “near me.” 2016 saw the number of “how to” queries grow by 44%.2 Furthermore, online video is growing at an unprecedented pace with more than 2X growth in watch time in 2016.3 More than 50% of Indian internet users are watching online videos to learn something new.4

Another much-anticipated outcome of this device and content boom is the emergence of a new group of users. We call it the emergence of Bharat. It’s interesting to witness the insatiable pace at which this new wave of people consumes information and experiences online. Non-metros now account for almost 30% of YouTube watch time, backed by regional content, better devices, and the increase of accessibility.3 Approximately one-third of all search queries now originate from outside the top 20 Indian cities.2 This group is also driving several new trends, such as the rapid increase in consumption of Indic-language content, which is expected to only grow further. Over the next three years, India’s internet population is expected to grow to 650 million, and with nearly three-fourths of users coming from smaller towns,1 the India’s socio-economic fabric is likely to change.

With this mass movement of users to online platforms and explosion of content, machine learning is beginning to play an impactful role in enabling brands to create more targeted, relevant, and creative brand campaigns. A great example of this is universal app campaigns, which use machine learning to serve the right app-specific promotional ad to the right audience across Google’s platforms. Given the mainstream role of digital, we started on a journey last year to share with you an annual report on key online trends that gives a flavor of evolving user preferences. And this year too, we’re happy to share a multi-segment view that delves into Indian consumers and what’s top of mind for them. We hope this will form a solid starting point for your brand journey in 2017!

Download the report here.

Marketing Trends That Defined Google's Year in Search