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‘Leveraging assets and innovation is the way forward for print media’

11-March-2010
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‘Leveraging assets and innovation is the way forward for print media’

‘Unleashing the power of print: Kickstarting Advertising Revenues’ was the focal point of the day-long workshop conducted by INMA in Mumbai on March 10. The workshop saw industry biggies from both print and media agencies provide solutions to various issues facing the print industry.

The workshop comprised four sessions, wherein the speakers shared their views and solutions not only from the industry point of view, but also highlighted what the advertising clients think.

Session one was a panel discussion on ‘New strategies to grow advertising revenues in difficult times for the newspapers’. The panelists included Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia and Emerging Market Leader, Starcom Mediavest Group, and Andrey Purushottam, CEO, Mumbai Mantra and Chairman, MRUC. The session was moderated by Tariq Ansari, MD, Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd.

Ravi Kiran noted, “We are in the middle of a genuine transition from old to new, and there is no doubt that the future will be tough. The future, I believe, will get more adversarial between buyer and seller, however, in future we will know how to collaborate and partner and for those who do not will only perish.”

Andrey Purushottam noted, “In order to kickstart revenue, first of all you need to take your brand as your biggest asset, look at the ways to leverage your brand and go beyond thinking of yourself as print media. Today, readership is the core problem, the youth is not reading and that’s the problem. They read less as compared to their parents, therefore, this cannot be resolved by initiative of one media alone. What you need to do is re-introduce reading habit among the kids. There will be increase in regional brands or local advertising, which is best served by print. You need to understand your biggest asset in the brand, understand the client’s requirements and how he is approaching the market.”

“The solution is to throw the entire body to the ball and not just your racket, that is, throwing all our assets to the ball, differential pricing, fundamentally innovating, hiring quality of talent,” he added.

Kiran also presented a case study on ‘Questioning Assumptions, creating value’, wherein he spoke on how print advertising fared among the other platforms such as online, mobile, and radio. The session offered a perspective on how powerful print advertising is.

According to Kiran, “The entire advertising business is built on awareness, throughout history. It is now that people are increasingly realising the importance of ‘intent’ and many are now beginning to move from awareness to intent. You need to understand that loudness alone is not enough. The world is, in fact, moving from exposure to engagement to experience. In general, newspaper is a large medium and can do what mobile cannot.”

In the third session, the panel discussion focused on the theme of finding a common ground. The panelists included Bhaskar Das, Executive President, The Times of India; KU Rao, CEO, DNA; Bharat Kapadia, Board Director, Lokmat; Divya Gupta, Business Head, Hindustan Times, Mumbai; and Manajit Ghoshal, MD, Mid-Day Infomedia. The session was moderated by Venkat, Director, Eenadu.

Venkat observed, “We need to collaborate and work together. For instance, cellphone companies initially had their own towers, however, today they have got together for one tower for all of them. We should learn from them. The print media is under threat for various reasons. Unlike in the previous years, this year, IPL will be transmited live on YouTube, cinema houses, etc., therefore, if we keep fighting amongst ourselves, money will eventually go away from print.”

Rao of DNA said, “There is no reason to lose heart, because if the GDP grows at over 8 per cent, then media spends will also increase. However, there are a lot more sources of revenue that need to be developed. I don’t think print tends to evangelise itself, but it would be a beautiful idea if it does. Print leaders should show that they work to expand the market.”

Ghoshal of Mid-Day Infomedia pointed out, “We need to get together to expand this market to the global average. A lot of expansion will come from the Tier II or III towns, and this is the segment that the English publications are not focusing on. What we should focus on is innovation. We need fresh blood to inject from outside, which will bring new ideas so that we don’t get caught in the trap of protectionism and eventually deliver values to the client.”

TOI’s Das observed, “I think, instead of protecting the topline, we can evolve by creating multiple sources of revenue or through collaborations in certain areas. I believe the time has come that collaboration has to be across businesses when it comes to advertising.”

Gupta of HT noted, “We have collaborated with TOI in 2005, 2007 and 2009, and it has benefited both the parties. I, too, agree that we need to collaborate rather than compete. We want to innovate, but sometimes we get carried away. However, until and unless that innovation is in our readers’ interest, it will be futile.”

Lokmat’s Kapadia highlighted, “I believe you can collaborate with other resources as well and not just competitors. We have tremendous power – both editorial and in advertising – in order to expand the market. If we only put our best foot forward by understanding our strengths, then we can definitely move forward.”

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