Vinay Sheshgiri, Vice President-National Sales, Asianet News Network, has handled leadership positions in telecom and print media for 16 years. In a conversation with exchange4media, Sheshgiri spoke about the trends in the market, initiatives to leverage Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha and his vision for growth for the channel and the print publication. Excerpts.
What is trending in the Kannada television space, now that there is a new government at the Centre?
The trends have not really been very healthy as of now, because the government has not really been spending as much was anticipated. But with the initiatives that are being taken now, there should be a reversal in spending trends in the next couple of months.
How are Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha placed to leverage the optimism in the market?
There could have been more optimism in the market actually. Initially, with the new government taking over, advertisers had taken a wait-and-watch stance. There was a definite and calculated call to first understand the government's initiatives, deduce the implications on the economic environment and then make marketing, sales and investment plans. Sentiments are improving and optimism is growing. We hope to capitalise on the positive trends in the coming months.
Already the run-up to the festive season looks bright. As a proactive media group with a newspaper and news channel under the same roof, unique to the state of Karnataka, we are closely monitoring every avenue and are committed not to leave any stone unturned to leverage the optimism
Q. What were the initiatives that you have taken since you joined the team at Suvarna and Kannada Prabha?
For Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha, we have been able to do a lot of restructuring in terms of how the market perceives us as a brand, and a partner to their communication requirement. We have also ensured that all the relevant advertising markets in the country are adequately represented. This gives us the opportunity to have a larger base of advertisers; contribution from this base is adding to the revenue pool and also building a great brand equity. There have also been various efforts to improvise the products, which the trade has appreciated.
Q1 FY15 has seen growth trends in the news television space. How has the first quarter of this fiscal been for Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha?
The Q1 FY14 has been quite encouraging, but as always, could have been better. It does give us the confidence, we will be able to achieve the objective that we had set for ourselves, at the start of the present financial year.
A brand campaign was rolled out recently for Suvarna News. What was the thought process behind it?
Through our campaign we have tried to communicate to the markets our strengths as a channel, and how we distinguish ourselves from other players. Suvarna News has been on the number two position consistently, and is present in all DTH platforms in Karnataka. It is also well placed in the digital space with an average of seven lakh hits per month. All these points make Suvarna News a more innovative and effective media for advertisers. It is not only the amount of money they invest in 10-second spots, but also the amount of effective engagement that the channel provides. This communication has come out clearly through the brand campaigns we rolled out.
What is your proposed strategy for the forthcoming festive season – in terms of marketing and content/programming?
Being a regional channel, we will do a lot of content that will be based on the festive season. In terms of marketing strategy, we would be putting much more effort on ground activities to show the brand's strengths to the world. There will be more promotional activities as well.
What is the advertiser sentiment towards the television space, especially in the South markets?
We have seen an emerging trend of new clients coming on board. Southern markets are supposed to be conservative, but today the new generation is taking over critical roles in old businesses and using technology to free up communication channels, add clients. This should help newspapers and channels to reduce their dependence on the existing client base, especially in today's volatile scenario.
You have been at the helm of handling sales for Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha for more than four months. What is your vision for growing the channel and the print publication?
From a revenue and brand sustenance perspective, content and its relevance to the immediate viewer or reader, is the mantra for sustained growth and we would be working relentlessly towards this.
We will also build enough synergies between the brands and provide a platform to our advertisers, where at one point of contact they get the bandwidth of print, TV, digital and ground level activities to reach out to their audience. We, as a group, would also strive towards building cost effectiveness and ensure value for every single penny our advertisers invest.