Dainik Bhaskar
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Writer: exchange4media News Service - Wednesday, May 04,2011 12:27 PM

An ‘Open’ Journey: R Rajmohan on Open’s Second Anniversary

Weekly current affairs and features magazine ‘Open’, the flagship brand of Open Media Network, the media venture of RPG Enterprises, is celebrating its second anniversary. As the magazine was launched during a time when global recession had hit the country, the challenge, apart from surviving in the market, was to make a mark amongst the readers and advertisers as well. exchange4media spoke to R Rajmohan, Publisher, Open, and media planners to know how the journey has been for this young media brand in the last two years.

Speaking on the milestones that the magazine has achieved in the last two years, Rajmohan, a publishing industry veteran roped in 15 months back to lead the magazine, pointed out that the magazine’s circulation had crossed 88,000 copies. “‘Open’ has also received considerable attention and respect from the international media. Stories of ‘Open’ have been constantly featured and referred to in most reputed international media like The Guardian, New York Times, The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal , and so on. ‘India’s very hip new OPEN magazine’ is what The Huffington Post has described the magazine as,” he added.

Rajmohan also admitted that the magazine had got a lot of attention and huge eyeball share in the past year thanks to the Niira Radia tapes.

Positioning that planners want…
Meanwhile, media planners are quite upbeat about the magazine’s performance so far.

Sanjoy Chakrabarty, CEO, Dentsu media, noted, “With systematic marketing, focused advertising sales and a differentiated editorial offering ‘Open’ has created a place for itself in the mindspace of audiences and advertisers in a short span of time. How many magazines in this competitive space dominated by other magazine brands have managed to build traction within two years? Frankly, I cannot think of any other magazine brand like ‘Open’.”

Surbhi C Murthy, GM, Allied Media, remarked, “‘Open’ started off with lots of promise and the Niira Radia tape story created a lot of stir in the market. It was followed by very focused marketing activity by ‘Open’, but the magazine is still young and has a long way to go.”

Murthy further said that ‘Open’ had been endeavouring to provide a differentiated and definitive offering and proposition to rise up to its competition.

Atul Sharma, Deputy General Manager, Madison Communications, too was optimistic about the magazine’s performance, as he said that ‘Open had a rich content and would continue to gain readership.

It may be noted that ‘Open’ is yet not being measured by the Indian Readership Survey, and Rajmohan maintained that these surveys were not adequate to capture magazine readership, particularly that of English magazines. He felt that the industry needed to have a methodology that was much more robust than the one employed currently.

“Also, since magazines are a more evolved and engaging medium, magazine measurement systems should go beyond AIR and TR,” Rajmohan insisted. This view of magazines being measured on engagement has been shared by all magazine publishers as well as the media planning fraternity and the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) has been working on this to evolve an affinity and engagement currency for magazines in the Indian scenario.

However, media planners seem a little wary about ‘Open’ not being in the IRS’ purview. As Murthy said, “Any magazine that is not covered by the IRS, it is difficult to measure its performance. We consider these magazines in our media plans as per the market perception, which is the biggest problem.”

Madison’s Sharma too felt that if one had to quantify value of the magazine, it might get shot down purely due to lack of IRS data.

Freebies and Facebook…
‘Open’ had hit the newsstands with a new sales model, where it was sold only on basis of the rich product experience and not on the basis of the freebies on offer. However, two years down the line, the magazine has opted for freebies-on-offer model, though Rajmohan maintained, “We are a bit wary of shoes and bags as baits to sell magazines. Last year, we had Saregama music CDs (It may b noted here that RPG Group that owns Saregama also owns ‘Open’), MP3 players, reference books, and so on. We are very particular about our imagery and are selective in our subscription gifts.”

Meanwhile, as in the case of several other magazines, ‘Open’ too is very active on Facebook and Twitter. As Rajmohan noted, “The best example of the effectiveness of social media for us was when we broke the X-TAPES/Radia tapes story. We were able to stay proactive on our Facebook and Twitter pages.” Open’s website has been designed by Itu Chowdhari, while the website technology has been developed by Srijan Technologies using Drupal.

Innocean Worldwide is handling the advertising and creative duties of ‘Open’ magazine.

An open road ahead…
Talking about the future, Rajmohan does not deny the possibility of a new title from the group, but was quick to add that it might not be this year. He added, “We will consolidate and grow ‘Open’ and create it as a 360 degree brand. We have lot to achieve in the next 12 months.”

When Rajmohan had joined ‘Open’ in early Februray 2010, he had told exchange4media, “‘Open’ magazine, the first product from RPG Group’s stable, is an excellent editorial product, which needs to be taken to the position it deserves in the market place. Coupled with that is the challenge and opportunity of identifying relevant niches and launching more titles. Altogether, it will be quite exciting professionally and I am looking forward to it.”

Just to share an anecdote narrated by another magazine publisher. A year back in April 2010, when he called his sales team to tell them that his newly launched magazine had very few adverts, the sales head of this magazine brought a copy of ‘Open’ and said, “look at ‘Open’, it has been around for a year and has two advertising pages in total”.

Since that time, ‘Open’ has come a long way and advertising has grown many folds, both in volume and value as in yields. Rajmohan ‘Open’ed his winning formula and the kind and volume of advertising in ‘Open’ today is proof of it.

The current issue of ‘Open’ magazine, dated May 9, with the cover story on ‘Great Escapes’, has advertisements from Volkswagen, Louis Philippe, Fiat, Parx, Samsung, Westin, Finnair, Lakme, Tissot and Color Plus. That’s an impressive list of advertisers.

May ‘Open’ continue to open cans of worms as stories for its readers and the advertisers’ wallets for advertising in ‘Open’. Rajmohan’s lips will then be OPEN and smiling. It’s time to uncork, or shall we say, OPEN a bottle of champagne.

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