The Indian Newspaper Kongress (INK) 2012, held on July 20 in New Delhi, put the spotlight on newspapers. Organised by exchange4media Group, the annual event aimed to understand what the future holds for the newspaper industry, as stakeholders contemplated on how to bring about further growth for the medium. INK 2012 was presented by Dainik Jagran. Business Standard was the print partner.
The print format today faces some serious challenges from digital media. But how prevalent is digital media in the country – is it mostly a metro phenomenon or has digital made serious inroads into small town India as well. Speaking about his travels across Maharashtra and Goa, Jwalant Swaroop, Chief Operating Officer, Lokmat Media, said that Internet penetration in these states is quite widespread.
Amar Ujala Executive Director Sunil Mutreja’s journey through Uttar Pradesh threw light on the Internet usage patterns in the state. He found that people used search sites like Google, Yahoo mostly for archival purpose, while social media is also on the rise.
Mutreja divided digital media into three broad parameters – News segment, e-commerce and social media.
Digital’s inroads into news segment can pose a threat for newspapers, he said. With news being consumed on different platforms today, newspapers will have to find ways to be accessible on multiple platforms.
According to Mutreja, e-commerce is definitely a workable model which delivers good ROI.
Commenting on how print companies are leveraging digital medium abroad, Mutreja presented some insights from Germany, Sweden, the UK and France. He said that print companies had created different products for different TG such as businessmen, sportspersons, students and even housewives. This helps in creating product differentiation. Besides, the medium in these countries has been so established so as to encompass innovation in advertising.
He shared an innovation in digital that he had seen in Sweden, where the music industry braced for new digital formats of music when cassettes gave way to CDs and then to mp3 and beyond. The music companies brought together the best singers in the country and recorded the songs, which was aired live and made live on digital media. One could log on to social media sites like Facebook, pay the specified amount and listen to one’s favourite singer at one’s own home as well as send request to listen to one’s favourite songs.
This got the youth TG hooked on to the medium. Thus, innovation helped create a huge buzz and also generated a sizeable revenue. This involved a more disruptive approach than the usual text wrap or banner ads.
Mutreja stressed, “We need to redefine innovation from the publisher point of view as well as digital media point of view.” For what Sweden’s music industry had done, it didn’t incur any addition overheads or additional manpower or infrastructure. The solution was more 360 degree in its approach rather than being confined to only print or the Internet.
However, digital needs more focus when it comes to innovation. According to him, innovation means experimentation. “We don’t know whether an innovation will work or not work, we can only find out through experimenting. For advertisers there are other things to consider such as market share, ad rates, etc., which are not part of innovation,” Mutreja pointed out.
He called for advertisers to be more willing to participate and experiment irrespective of the results. “If one is accountable and eligible for these things, then there will be a lot of innovation that will happen, be it newspaper or any other medium,” he concluded.