Online searches for digital platforms, including video-conferencing and social media apps and OTT platforms have surged amid the lockdown, according to a recent report by online content management platform SEMrush.

According to the report, searches for video-conferencing apps Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Gotomeeting between February and March increased by 809 per cent, 307 per cent, 307 per cent, and 173 per cent respectively.

Further it predicts that searches for these appswill increase from 10 lakhs to 40 lakhs, 1.65 lakhs to 3.51 lakhs, 3.68 lakhs to 6.94 lakhs, and 1.65 lakhs to 3.05 lakhs, respectively between March and April.

SEMrush believes that searches for Zoom will increase by just 300 per cent between March and April, as compared to an 809 per cent increase between February and March.

“Word of mouth about Zoom’s security risks is spreading. However, despite the smaller per cent increase in searches, in absolute terms, more people than ever before are expected to search for the platform, which only goes to highlight its popularity,” the report said.

Online searches for social media platforms have also increased during this period, the report said.

Social media on the rise

“During the lockdown, the number of Indians searching for social media platforms such as Snapchat, Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp has grown,” it said.

TikTok, especially, has seen increased interest from users. From February to March, the number of searches grew from 50 lakh to 74.8 lakh, an increase of 49.6 per cent, according to the report. In the same period, searches for Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram increased from 3.68 lakhs to 4.5 lakhs, 5.56 crore to 6.8 crore, and 3.72 crore to 4.55 crore, it said. Searches for WhatsApp remained steady at 1.1 crore during this time.

According to the report’s estimates, in April the number of times Snapchat, Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will be searched is 5.86 lakh, 95 lakh, 7.42 crore, 4.95 crore, and 1.18 crore times.

The OTT boom

“Indians have begun migrating to digital platforms faster as a result of the pandemic. This trend is evident from the increasing number of searches being made for OTT service providers,” the study suggests.

“OTT platforms Watch2gether, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Alt Balaji, were searched extensively in February, March, and April with a surge in March and April, the period when the lockdown was put in place,” the report said.

Searches for Watch2gether, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Alt Balaji increased by 184 per cent, 173 per cent, 83 per cent, and 22 per cent respectively, between February and March.

This trend can pose a great opportunity for digital players, the report said.

Fernando Angulo, Head of Communications, SEMrush said: "Tens of millions are migrating to virtual meeting apps, social media sites, and OTT platforms. While it was bound to happen over the next few decades, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated. What would have taken years, will happen in a few short months. For providers of digital services, this is a huge opportunity. Erstwhile timelines that tracked consumers’ expected movement to digital platforms have to be discarded; a new paradigm has emerged. Digital players who recognise that this is possibly a new normal and act on this belief stand to come out ahead.”