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Hindi newspapers’ digital forays yet to gain momentum

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Hindi newspapers’ digital forays yet to gain momentum

News websites and e-papers have become a staple of newspaper players. Not to be left behind, Hindi newspaper players have taken to the digital medium quite enthusiastically, and recently, some of the players have forayed into newer segmented markets. With the Internet reach spreading to smaller towns, which most of the Hindi newspaper brands target, newer TGs are cropping up. However, there are some steep challenges to surmount before Hindi newspapers can get to make the most of the digital domain.

Speaking to exchange4media, Amar Deep Singh, CEO, Interactive Avenues, noted that newspapers were the first ones to launch news based websites way back in the late 1990s, so in that sense, they did realise that they needed a digital presence. “However, having said that, they did not focus enough on the same and that reflects in their presence on the web and mobile spaces,” he added.

As per industry reports, English is the preferred language of only 28 per cent of the population, hence, the opportunity for regional language players is massive and they are gaining momentum in the digital space. Gyan Gupta, Business Head, IMCL, commented, “If we would give them (Hindi readers) good and quality content, this number would only grow exponentially.”

The duplication between Hindi and English users in the digital medium is very high, which indicates that Hindi users are also consuming English content, and vice versa.

Singh said that the websites of Hindi newspapers had not been able to attract the Hindi readers as much as they should have. “When the number of only Hindi consuming users goes up substantially, you can say that these players have attracted the Hindi users to the digital space,” he remarked.

According to Namita Sahu, COO, Publicitas Digital, “English will continue to dominate this space. However, you will see growth in regional verticals, which will have their own niche craved out.”

Interestingly, some of the Hindi newspaper players have recently forayed into the newer domains like health and education, and some more are planning to do so. “It’s an interesting development, however, they are getting into a territory where there are established players already. We will have to wait and see what kind of success they get here,” Interactive Avenues’ Singh said.

Meanwhile, in an another interesting development, the Dainik Bhaskar group had recently launched a real time reporting model for its web content to keep the digital domain updated. “At Dainik Bhaskar Group sites, divya, which are controlled and strategically executed by IMCL, efforts are being made to move to real time stories, where our reporters file straight from the field especially for the web, later some of them do get developed for print,” said Gupta.

Speaking on the revenue part of the digital medium, Gupta said, “Revenue is a function of product and reach. The digital revenue is growing at 40 per cent. It just depends on how much of that share comes to the newspaper players. If we have a strong product with good reach, there is no reason why digital space can’t become a robust source of revenue for us.”

Sahu of Publicitas Digital pointed out that large Indian newspaper players had taken focused approaches to build the digital side of the business and be part of the revolution. “However, one needs to really understand the consumption preferences of their users and augment their digital content that is of relevance to their users,” she added.

Sukirti Gupta, CEO, MMI, Jagran Group, claimed that had a very active reader base with more than 300,000 unique visitors to the site daily, and added that the web would be a complementary revenue source for them.

Digital complements newspapers

“Scarcely a day goes by without some claim that new technologies are fast writing newsprint’s obituary” – this worry of Rupert Murdoch probably could be proved wrong, internationally as well, if both digital and print medium could work together. However, newspaper players in India seem to have realised that. In India, newspapers are often seen promoting their digital presence through the printed sheet.

According to Publicitas Digital’s Sahu, “Digital and print will complement each other in the current scenario. Print medium in India is very strong and registering a robust growth. We have inherent challenges in India in terms of infrastructure for the digital medium. These challenges will hopefully be addressed in years to come and we will see digital taking a big leap as the medium of the future.”

Gupta of IMCL affirmed that talking about digital taking over newspaper in the present scenario was wrong. “This is not a tussle between print and digital. While the net penetration is increasing, so is print in India,” he pointed out.

To keep inventing relevant content on digital medium will be a big challenge for the Hindi newspaper players. However, Internet penetration is not that wide in small towns, where Hindi newspapers are prevalent. But over time, through their digital presence they can target wide range of readers.

Users are looking at websites that can deliver customised content to them. Hence, extension of Hindi newspaper brands into the newer segmented digital domains seems to be logical. As Sahu summed up, “This helps publishers categorise the audience based on his preferences and monetise the inventory by giving the targeted audience to his advertisers. The challenge is to create strong verticals that are attractive enough for advertisers to target those audiences.”

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