Google has 35 mn Indian SMEs on its radar

Having already doubled its small and medium enterprise (SME) customer base in India within a year, global Internet search giant Google is now aggressively trying to reach out to the entire sector for online advertising.

India has an estimated 35 million SMEs, out of which only about 200,000 have an online presence through domains, sub-domains and blogs.

“We plan to reach out to all of them, as well as educate the ones who are not online, on the benefits of online advertising,” Google Asia-Pacific Head (Online Sales and Operations) Aliza said.

Google earns the bulk of its global revenue from ‘Adwords’, which allows advertisers to place ads against search results best suited to their interests.

Small businesses with limited budgets for creative and media buying are attracted because they get a cheap platform to extend their footprint and that too, with a quick and measurable return on investment (ROI).

“Unlike big players, who are concerned mainly about branding on the Internet, small retailers are actually looking at lead generation and business. For them, we are like a shop front,” she said.

At present, has one call centre where a thousand small and medium-sized firms from 250 Indian cities and towns call in every day to understand how the ‘Adwords’ service can help market themselves on the web.

“We plan to scale up the capacity of this initiative and double it by next year and also invest in providing support in other regional languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati and Marathi,” Knox said.

To offer a jump start service to all small businesses with an online presence, the major had recently launched a free advertising coupon worth Rs 2,500 and a month’s free consultation and advice on how to manage campaigns online.

As the market leader and pioneer of the concept of tapping the market for online advertising, the company is on a large-scale mission to educate smaller businessmen about the viability of the Internet for finding a market for their products.

“We have tens of thousands of SME customers in India from various verticals, including travel, finance, auto, healthcare and education, among others. In the past one year, the number of SME customers has doubled,” she said.

Without quantifying the present SME clientele, Knox said the demand for online search engine advertising by small businessmen has grown consistently, while a good proportion of existing advertisers have increased their spending.

“A significant part of Google India’s growth has been fuelled by our success with the SMEs and we are confident of maintaining this strong growth over the next few years,” Knox said.

She rejected suggestions that the US-based company plans to offer business consultancy services through their telesales department.

“It is meant only to give an impetus to the entire process of digital advertising. We are also grooming them on how to go about using search engine optimisation techniques to generate more clicks,” the Google official said.

Google has also been organising informative workshops and seminars across regions to assist SMEs in leveraging on the rapidly growing advertising medium.

They have also tied up with NIIT for an advanced online advertising programme to help entrepreneurs and agency executives enhance their skills.

“The Internet as a medium is witnessing high growth in India, so the potential of online advertising user base for SMEs is immense. The lack of Internet users in India is an opportunity for Google to educate them and evangelise them,” Google India Online Sales Head Sridhar Sheshadri said.

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