Mariam Mammen Mathew is the COO of Malayala Manorama Online, the digital arm of the Malayala Manorama Group of Publications. She has been the key in building Manorama Online and its other products online since 2001.
In conversation with exchange4media, Mathew speaks about building Malayala Manorama Online, the marketing strategy, and new initiatives from the group in 2014.
What is the marketing strategy for Manorama Online? How well have you been able to meet your goals?
Manorama Online is the umbrella product for all digital activities happening in Malayala Manorama. Each product under this brand has a different marketing strategy based on the target group of the product.
Over the years we have grown organically and by word of mouth, without much marketing activity and more through editorial push. The growth has happened only because of good content. We have some good classified products such as Hello Address, M4Marry, Quick Kerala and Ente Deal. These products have a very specific marketing strategy.
This year, we are revamping our site and our technology as we have partnered with Adobe. I think we have been able to meet our goals and every day we are trying harder to give value to our readers through our various innovative products.
What are the trends that you think will define digital media in 2014?
Videos, mobiles, tablets and curated content are here to stay and will grow significantly. There will be plethora of products launched in the market and we can see print players adapting to these and trying to differentiate themselves with the use of these products.
Where do you see the Indian print media houses when it comes to digital? How well have these players leveraged the medium?
Today, media houses have figured out that digital is an essential medium. All of them are making efforts to capitalise on the market. For example, Eenadu has leveraged digital in a big way. They are now into classifieds and are doing lot of different things. Classifieds are equally important for a newspaper, which a lot of newspapers in the US and other countries did not understand.
As far as India is concerned, the mobile space is growing at a rapid pace and offers a lot of potential for a media house like us. We are concentrating on mobiles and tablets now. Since 2003, we have been using mobile and today, we have more than a million people who uses our apps.
What are some of the new initiatives that we can expect from Manorama Online in 2014?
This year, we are concentrating on revamping our website and enhancing our basic CMS technology. The site will be responsive based on screen sizes and we will continue concentrating on giving good multi-media content.
Mobile is today’s mantra. We have come out with more than 10 apps, some of which are paid, while others are for free. I think we were the only media house that went paid three to four years ago with our digital edition. It’s our belief that the product has to pay for itself. All the editions of magazines are charged. If a product is offered for free at the beginning, then it is difficult to get them switch to the paid version. These are not just print editions, but print-plus with add-ons relevant to our readers.
How has media convergence helped in content integration?
Content integration has helped us to reach out to a larger audience, as today most of them are online and they want to have content immediately, participate in the discussions and help in content creation. This is where digital plays a big role. In creating and disseminating stories, integration plays a major role.
It is said that in regional markets, there is a space for a maximum of three big players to grow. Do you believe in it?
In a business like digital, every day there is somebody coming up and it is very fragmented. There can be any number of players. Having said that, Manorama Online has been a clear leader in this market by a huge margin for the past 15 years.
How has the Kerala market changed from the consumer and marketing perspective in the last few years?
The Kerala market has become more aggressive in the last one year. A lot of national advertisers have shown interest in the regional place. The conversion rate for regional, especially language, is higher. Click through and responses are much better in the regional players.
What are the focus areas for Manorama Online in 2014?
Over the last one decade, Malayala Manorama has been in the No. 1 position in Kerala. Two biggest things for Manorama Online in the year 2014 will be the implementation of new technologies while revamping the entire site. The second strategy is to continue to be present in all media and concentrate on tablets and mobiles. Content and innovation will continue to be our main areas of focus.