Geographical expansion of new digital users in smaller locations, rural India: Google report

One of the clear shifts in user behaviour was demonstrated in a never-before upsurge in queries for learn, up over 30 percent YoY, Google said, citing its annual `Year in Search' report for the past year.
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A mix of the uncertainty of 2020 and accelerated digital adoption saw Indians leverage their time spent online for "determined pursuit of progress," says a report by Google, which also noted the geographical expansion of new digital users in smaller locations and rural India.

One of the clear shifts in user behaviour was demonstrated in a never-before upsurge in queries for learn, up over 30 percent YoY, Google said, citing its annual 'Year in Search' report for the past year.

"The combination of the uncertainty of 2020 and the accelerated digital adoption in the year saw Indians leverage their time spent online for the determined pursuit of progress," it said.

The search data in the report, titled 'India's determined progress', also captured the geographical expansion of new digital users in Tier II, III, and IV locations and rural India.

"This has led to an increase in the importance of the 3Vs — Voice, Video, and Vernacular — a trend that was first established in 2017 for a wider variety of uses, underpinned by a preference for the mother tongue," it said.

The searches for learning went beyond academics and focussed on learning for career progression, upskilling, entrepreneurship, and supplementary income, with four in five people coming to YouTube to learn something new.

"Users were also concerned about the future of the economy and how it will impact their personal finances, and therefore, people were seeking more control over their future — with searches related to personal finance, surging to a 50 percent YoY growth for both invest and buy mutual funds," it said.

Another key theme 'local first' highlighted the increase in the demand and consumption of both local language content and information. Consequently, the year saw Google Translate being used over 17 billion times to translate web pages into Indic languages, revealed the report.

The year also saw a spike in demand for local news as people sought to stay tuned into developments in their immediate surroundings.

With health becoming a foremost concern, users had a new willingness to try new things online, with online doctor consultations searches showing 300 percent growth in the last year led by Manipur, Bihar, and Karnataka.

"The report also captures big spikes in the on-demand economy going beyond the established categories and extending to cars, motorbikes, and Smart TVs. Demand for connected devices saw a massive surge with 'second-hand laptops' recording over 60 percent increase in search queries YoY," it said.

These user behaviours were coupled with their increasing comfort with transacting online with over 60 percent YoY in searches for how to pay online, it noted.

Edited by Suman Singh

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