The Open Internet Gains Prominence: Reached Almost 600 Million in India

India – March 14, 2023 At almost 600 million users, the open internet has gained prominence in India, reaching 62 million more than walled gardens. 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. In the last year, four in five consumers (80 percent) increased their consumption of the open internet. These findings are a part of the industry first-to-market research report titled, ‘Gateway to the Open Internet,’ published by global advertising technology leader The Trade Desk and Kantar.

Time spent on open internet rises, but advertising spend falls short

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.

“Some of the best content we enjoy comes from the open internet, and almost all of this is funded by advertising. The disconnect between consumer time spent and ad spend on the open internet demonstrates a significant opportunity for today’s marketers,” said Tejinder Gill, General Manager, India, The Trade Desk. “This report identifies massive opportunities for those looking to advertise on the open internet, where they can reach a more engaged audience.”

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.

The open internet is an integral part of a consumer’s life

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.

This research report is being released a day before the fireside chat, “The future of advertising – powered by the open internet” at ad:tech New Delhi, featuring:

  • Archana Aggarwal, VP Brand, Airtel
  • Atique Kazi, President - Data, Performance and Digital Products, GroupM India
  • Rahul Singh, Director, Business Development, The Trade Desk