The two-day IFRA India 2006 conference came to an end on September 14 in Chennai. The concluding day saw various speakers calling for a synergy between the print, mainly newspapers, and the new media like blogs and podcast to attract younger, Net-savvy non-readers.
Joachim Blum, Associate Consultant, IFRA Newsplex, said that newspapers should join the blog bandwagon in order to reach younger non-readers. “More than 20 per cent of the Net population today accesses blogs. They are easy to update and economical to operate. Another powerful tool is the podcast. Twenty per cent of Net users access podcasts at least six times a week. A model to emulate is The Telegraph (UK), which produces a high-quality, 30-minute podcast daily,” Blum said.
Pramesh Misra, President, Lowe India, pointed out the growing disenchantment with the mass media among advertisers worldwide. He said, “In the US, 50 per cent of the marketing communications spend is going into live events, PR and direct marketing. In India, too, advertisers will be forced to rethink. Over 70 per cent of TV viewers switch channels when commercials are on and at least 50 per cent of newspaper readers are tuning out from advertising messages.”
“Advertising content is causing severe irritation among television viewers,” Misra pointed out, adding, “Indians are moving away from mass media to lifestyle activities such as visiting multiplexes, providing advertisers with alternative channels for getting messages across.”
Saurav Sen, Business Head (Internet and telecom), Ananda Bazar Patrika, said, “Newspapers should stand on their heads and think. Digital media shouldn’t be seen as candy for print advertisers. Traditional media must recognise the fact that the ‘centre of the universe’ is not the media product but the consumers of the product. Is the Indian newspaper industry prepared to empower its consumers?”
Meanwhile, sharing the success story of Norway’s VG Net, a rare example of a newspaper website topping traffic rankings in a country, Geir Larsen, Chief of Analysis and Strategy, VG Multimedia, said “VG’s online presence is positioned at the ‘intersection’ between the traditional one-to-many communication model and the emerging many-to-many format.”
“In addition to presenting a package of constantly updated news reports and images, the site has attracted a community of bloggers. As a result of this community, VG Net was able to report the December 26, 2004 tsunami 45 minutes before the news agencies because of an SMS sent by a reader on holiday in Phuket. The first image of the havoc caused by the tsunami was also sent via a mobile phone by a reader,” Larsen further said.
Speaking to exchange4media on the sidelines of the conference, R V Rajan, Managing Director, IFRA India, said, “The conference is a great success. It is the first time that IFRA has seen over 400 delegates taking part. Due to the phenomenal success of the event we have decided to conduct IFRA India 2007 in Chennai.”
Speaking at the valedictory function of the two-day conference, Magdoom Mohamed, Executive Director, IFRA India, said “IRFA India 2007 will feature more stalls by manufacturers and service providers from India and abroad and will be conducted in a grand manner.”