Alternate revenue streams have become important for magazines’ bottomlines and survival in these tough times. A session on this topic, moderated by Anurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group, discussed the various streams at length. The panellists included Maheshwer Peri, President & Publisher, Outlook Group; Shyam Malhotra, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief, CyberMedia, and Tarun Rai, CEO, WWM. The session was the penultimate one on Day two of the Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) 2009.
The two-day IMC 2009 was held in Delhi on November 5-6. Worldwide Media was the presenting sponsor, while Chitralekha and Cannon were the associate sponsors. exchange4media Group (exchange4media.com, impact and Pitch) was the media partner.
Revenues from direct advertising
Anurag Batra commenced the discussions with a question to the panellists: “What is your percentage of revenues from direct advertising?” Listing out the various alternate streams of revenue generation, Batra said that they included events, premium subscription, research, books, CDs, and content syndication.
Replying first, Tarun Rai said that cross-platforming for the Filmfare Awards had been done for 56 years. Today, 25 per cent of WWM’s revenues came from alternative streams, Rai informed.
Shyam Malhotra pointed out, “Lots of alternatives and options are available today and more are coming up.” To elaborate his point, Malhotra said, “Earlier, I used to drink tea with my newspaper, now I have my newspaper wit my tea. And if I don’t have my tea, I don’t mind not reading the newspaper. That’s the challenge that print faces.”
Speaking about the Outlook Group, Maheshwer Peri said, “For Outlook, the only form of alternative revenue has been books. We have the Outlook Traveller, for instance. We know that we can’t better Lonely Planet, but can we cover more that what Lonely Planet does? Yes. It needs to be kept in mind that you cannot be a National Geographic overnight.”
Events and paid content
Batra then touched upon two important means of alternate revenues – events and paid content – and asked the panellists to explain how they leveraged these two streams.
Rai pointed out, “Today, there are plenty of opportunities to do events, however, we need to focus on a few to maintain brand salience. The combination of content and brands is a powerful one. Assuming that none of your audience has picked up your magazine, yet a greater connect can be built up on different platforms.”
“Thus, it is pertinent to get content on to different platforms of your TG. But do remember, don’t get into an area you have no expertise in, but you can always go for partnerships,” Rai advised, while giving the example of Femina Handy Hints.
Malhotra revealed that 40 per cent of CyberMedia’s revenues came from non-advertising activities. “This involves premium content in a big way as there is a market for paid and premium content. But we also have both circulation and advertising supported content. Going forward, there will be more content part to revenues,” he added.
Peri stressed on the need to have content that was not dated and for which people were ready to pay.
Batra noted here, “By using the brand and variation of content, bringing in new audiences, and generating fresh content, the pie of consumer content can be grown.”
According to Rai, “A lot of advertisers are happy to go along if you are available on different platforms.” Malhotra, too, noted, “Different media vehicles are serving different advertisers. We know what we want to do, the challenge is how. The challenge is also to not lose out on the print revenues as we go on to the digital medium. We know the possibilities exist, but need to convert those possibilities into reality.”