At the 10th edition of Indian Magazine Congress held in Mumbai, the contextuality of magazines in the Digital first age was analysed extensively, to enumerate changing forms and adaptations. Many known names in the sector contributed to the discussion, and the take-away stood out to be that it is ultimately content that determines a medium’s fate.
Digital is indeed taking front-stage with more than 50 percent of the growth today coming from mobile for most major publishers, according to a study by Magazine Publisher’s Association, US.
Communication today has to be twenty-four seven multicontent delivery. In advertising, native ads are driving major revenues, with ad blocking and ad fatigue creating obstacles in the way of traditional. Power of data also is taking major role in creating impact as data engineers may wiggle out insights as to which headlines may produce the greatest impact.
In spite of the changing landscape, magazines seem to be succeeding in holding their ground.
“AIM had undertaken a report to create clearly quantified engagement scores for magazines, vis-a-vis media. Magazines are topping the index weighted attributes. Magazines are also well suited to lending more to advertorials, also open to innovation in material,” said Mitrajit Bhattacharya, President AIM, and President & Publisher Chitralekha Group. However, change is imperative, so, what is necessary to retain the crown?
Derek O’Brien, Member of Parliament, lauded the initiative of magazine publishers to organize events as a means of community building and networking with brand partners. He expressed that news and magazine is probably an oxymoron as news and magazine cannot go together. Digital may actually claim the news pie rightfully, if only owing to its speed. Even most of political news is released on digital media now.
Magazines, on the other hand, offer insight, which depends more on the content than medium. “You have not to think of words, but ideas for communication,” said O’Brien. So creating niche magazines that cater to a small but enthusiastic population may generate good business. “High price, but less numbers,” he said.
Bhaskar Das, President, Chief Growth and Innovation Officer, Zee Unimedia Limited, reiterated the importance of partnership for holistic creation and impact of content. Media ecosystem has different kinds of players: makers who are high in the value chain, but low in consumer connect; maximisers, such as cable operators who are versed in knowledge of customers; or mashups who are in the creation ecosystem as well as in consumer connect. One of the few platforms showcasing it is Amazon, executing a high level of expertise in driving user experience, in content, in distribution and infrastructure, as well as interaction. So essentially, it is not the format that is key, but the business model. Future requires new strategies and capabilities. Static revenue models fail to adapt to changing awareness and needs of audience’s new standard of life. “Partner with brands to create a solution, navigate around market needs. Start with creating intent—accordingly create content—gather experience—drive commerce,” said Das. He even proposed the vision to rechristen the Indian magazine Congress to Indian Mashable Content Congress.
Silence is sometimes the best way to be heard in a crowd. Do what is away from the common: that draws attention, was the takeaway. And so are print ads still relevant, unlike a lot of moving frames, it may actually still be the only medium, that forces you to stop and take stock and wonder, all the while getting involved. The content, in the print ad, though, must have such presence to encourage the viewer to stop. Unfinished or pictorial messages is one such form, said Manish, as it gives the reader an ego massage, as he interprets the message. Everybody has a craving for a clever communication, in addition to the comic, entertainment, emotional ones that abound, and print has ample potential to provide that. And that is where a magazine brings in innovation, as opposed to gimmick, he elaborated in response to Noor Fathima Warsia, Group Editor, Marketing and Advertising, Businessworld and Digital Market Asia.
Content and innovation are therefore going to decide the course of magazines for the next decade.