Once a quiet weekly affair, supplements today have grown into a daily necessity. After using price points, newer presentation styles and a greater number of editions, Kannada dailies are looking at higher frequency and relevance of content of their supplements to make a difference in the market.
There is indeed no single major Kannada daily that does not offer a supplement on any given day of the week. This was not the case a few years ago. But increased competition, from both print and television, has led to this segment exploring new ways to attract the reader and subsequently the advertiser.
To cite a case in point, Vijay Karnataka, the largest selling Kannada daily in the state, did its fair share of research before bringing out its supplements. “While earlier it were the weeklies and monthlies that offered features and analysis, today this is being offered by the dailies through their supplements,” explained Ramanand Bhat, Director, Vijayanand Printers (Vijay Karnataka).
According to Bhat, while 24-hour news channels are offering stiff competition to the dailies, it is through special interest features that newspapers continue to market their exclusivity. Like most other Kannada dailies, Vijay Karnataka through its numerous supplements offers special interest features in areas like culture, cinema, women, children, sports, besides an exclusive, weekly pullout on agriculture.
In a similar vein, Samyukta Karnataka, one of the oldest dailies in the state, revamped its operations and allotted a special interest area in its editorial content for each day of the week. A Gunda Bhat, CEO, Samyukta Karnataka, explained that with reader interest growing in local affairs, the supplements served the purpose of meeting this information need by focusing on “a variety of activities, happenings and general city news that one would not find in the main paper”.
Similarly, top players Udayavani and Prajavani have also invested both time and monies in building their supplements. However, a survey across the industry shows that the investments made in building these supplements have not quite paid off yet.
“There is a general perception that response to ads placed in the main paper would be better received than in a supplement,” said Gautam Pai, Executive Director, Udayavani.
He added that while print ads were earlier mainly brand building in nature, today this exercise is carried out through TV. “Today, most print ads are sale or specific offer related. Again, people believe that this is better served in the main edition,” he said.
Bringing to light the issue within an issue, Gunda Bhat spoke of how even as advertisers preferred the main edition of a Kannada daily, at the end of the day it was still the English daily that remained their prime choice. “Most ads on sales are meant for city readers. With the bulk of regional daily readership coming from the rural areas, they would rather advertise in an English daily,” he said.
Bringing in a media planner’s perspective, A Thivyanathan, Media Group Head, Madison, said, “Most regional dailies have their stronghold in rural Karnataka. Advertising in a supplement is mainly meant to boost retail. With retail activity happening only in Bangalore, national advertisers would obviously opt for a city-centric English daily”.
He added that with supplements offering a more economical rate than the main edition, they gave advertisers the much sought after edge.
But according to D B Dutta, GM–Advertising, The Printers (Mysore) Pvt. Ltd (Prajavani), the problem lies in the way Kannada supplements are marketed. Quoting the example of one of Prajavani’s Friday supplements that offers film-based content, he said, “We put in efforts to promote that particular supplement and as a result have seen good advertiser response”.
He added, “The only way to achieve success is by going out and specially creating an opportunity for a brand to advertise in your medium”.
Some marketing activity seems to be in place with most city-news based supplements faring better than other supplements. Across publications, advertisers are warming up to daily supplements/pullouts that offer city-based news or views.
This response, however small, has been received by the industry as a sign of things to come. Most dailies are planning to continue their investments on either increasing their number of supplements or improving the existing ones. “Now that the main edition has stabilised, we will shift a major part of our attention to promote our supplements,” said Dutta.
Whatever the eventual verdict of both the reader and advertiser, much activity is bound to surround Kannada supplements in the near future. This, of course, might all change should the industry discover a new way towards product differentiation.