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Newspapers can bank on online for survival: Rishad Tobaccowala

13-January-2009
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Newspapers can bank on online for survival: Rishad Tobaccowala

The digital era has not only changed consumers but also the way in which one communicates. And as the world is turning digital, there is also an equal need to increase the engagement with consumers.

On Monday, January 12, 2009, Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, a leading new media strategy and communications consultancy, spoke to a gathering of media owners on ‘Dawn of a New Era- How consumers and communication are changing and what you can do to thrive.’

Online and offline audience need to be treated differently

Newspapers and magazines in the US are seeing a continuous decline in their advertising spends with some even closing down as consumers are switching to the online medium. Although the Indian newspaper industry is on a growth spree, it more or less is doing the same thing when it comes to the online version of print. The message for the media industry is that the needs of the online audience are different as compared to the offline audience, hence the industry should look at something innovative rather than include the same features in the offline media.

According to Tobaccowala, online audience was different and so they needed to be treated differently. He explained, “The newspaper industry in the US was the early mover to the digital space, however the mistake they made despite making the right move was to include the same material that was offline to online as well.”

“India is a good media market, a booming industry. On the other hand, its US counterpart is seeing a decline in its ad spends. For instance, in 2006, the industry saw a 2 per cent decline, 2007 saw 4 per cent, and 2008 had an 18 per cent decline. In fact, the last three months of 2008 saw a 30 per cent decline in their ad spends,” he pointed out.

The best and the worst times

Tobaccowala sees both the worst and best times for the Indian media industry. On the worst of scenarios, he said, “The world is getting fragmented and there are creative constraints, too, which is taken over by consumers.” He added, “It could be the best of times, too, as people are watching, reading and listening more, there will also be new ways of increasing engagement. There is a huge untapped market which can be explored.”

Trends in the media

According to Tobaccowala, the single biggest trend was the globally decentralised linked network – in other words, when you put something online, it automatically becomes global and this will drive the media industry. Authenticity was what mattered now as people had learnt that they could not trust anyone in authority any more, he said.

Trends of people globally

Voyeurism: People across the globe like to watch other people and are curious to follow them, particularly celebrities.

Fame: They all want fame and they want to be famous in their own way. There are more people who write blogs than those who read them.

Facilitation: Marketing has been outsourced to consumers, these days people do their own research – from buying a car to even a mobile handset. They trust themselves more than others.

God-like: People are no longer constrained by time, place or by body, It’s like having multiple personalities. We say Consumer is King but ironically, we are treating them as idiots.

People are living in a multiple world: An increasing number of people are living in both analog and digital world. Therefore, we need to give the audience a taste of both in a well-balanced way.

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