While the first day of the thirteenth Ifra India 2005 conference mostly dealt with the challenges before newspapers in an increasingly competitive environment in the Publishers’ Forum, Day Two of the conference deliberated on the ways and means to attract the reader, who now has several ways to get information.
The morning session was kicked off by session chair Manfred Werfel, Research Director and Deputy CEO, Ifra, who underscored the need to offer news in a compact format, rather than the traditional broadsheet format. While offering technical and strategic advice on how to make the conversion to a compact format from a broadsheet, he maintained that key issue was to make sure readers were ready for a new and more modern format.
The first speaker of the session was Robert Thomson, editor, The Times (London), who presented a case study on how The Times made the switchover from broadsheet to tabloid. He discussed in detail how this change created new issues regarding production complexities, ad challenges and some angry reactions from the readers.
He further said that after the initial hic-cups the decision proved to be the right, He added that The Times had moved advertisements on the front page to the third page to prevent the ads from having too much prominence on the now smaller cover.
The session laid special attention to the alarming drop in young readers. In a world of blogging, podcasting, mobile, and the Internet, newspapers do not manage to get young readers. The session discussed ways to attract young readers with measures such as mobile services and distributing free papers.
Giving India’s perspective was Punitha Arumugham, CEO, Madison Media Group, who provided the point of view of one of the largest ad agencies in the country. Discussed the changing times that newspapers were facing, Arumugham felt that the Indian industry was in a very good position at the moment.
“Rapid growth, increasing revenues, what I call the ‘return of the dragoons’ as many business sectors that did not advertise in newspapers are coming back to this medium, the multimedia experimentation and the awareness the newspaper product has among readers are more than a good starting point for consolidating the business,” she said.
She further said that with several newspapers around the world changing to compact size in order to be more appealing to new and young readers, Indian newspapers were closely monitoring this development.