B2B is an essential part of magazine publishing and is one of the businesses that has been well acquired. But is what they have achieved good enough or is more needed in terms of higher revenues or content or even re-invention? All these issues and more were raised in the concluding session of the two-day Indian Magazine Congress, organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) in Mumbai.
Addressing this issue in the session titled ‘Re-inventing the B2B business’ was the panel comprising Sandeep Khosla, CEO – Publishing, Infomedia18; Sanjeev Khaira, Managing Director, UBM India; and Jim James, Director, Haymarket. Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group, moderated the session.
To begin with, each of the publishers raised points on where they thought the industry was lacking. Sanjeev Khaira began the session by stating that talent was what one needed to look forward to the most and that awareness of talent was what needed to be raised, which was pretty low at this point. Speaking about minimal advertising revenue, Sandeep Khosla felt that the advertising revenue was very small and publishers in this space were getting more and more into a module that did not exist earlier, which was events.
Jim James remarked, “We have not finished inventing ourselves, so re-inventing should be left aside. B2B in India has a long way to go.”
Anurag Batra here pointed out that the B2B sector was moving slowly from information to knowledge, but there was still a lack of data and insights. He further pointed out, “We keep talking about numbers in the business, but the real challenge is balancing out between sending free copies and selecting the same from the database that we already have.”
To this, Khaira replied, “If the quality is good, people will pay for it.”
When it came to alternate revenue streams, for the B2B model, events brought in a major chunk of the revenue. Commenting on this, Khosla said, “The yields of B2B is not very high and beyond a point, circulation won’t be able to expand itself, because it is a set audience that we are catering to. In a situation like this, events are a good revenue stream to have, which also helps engage the audience that we are talking to better.”
Talking specifically on the yield that came out of B2B publishing and the talent James, said, “What people spend on advertisements is far greater elsewhere in the world than it is here. When it comes to talent, the talent might be there, but what is required is the tuning.”
Reacting to James’ comment on talent, Khosla said, “We have gone around and created talent by hiring people who are experts in the domain. They need not be journalists, but what they have is domain expertise, which is very crucial for our business. With this, finer details of the domain are brought into perspective, which a normal journalist will not be able to bring to the table.”
The panel concluded with everyone agreeing that talent was something that needed to be tuned and that events were going to be the next big source of revenue.
The Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) concluded with a vote of thanks by Maheshwar Peri, President & Publisher, Outlook Group, who thanked all the speakers and delegates. Peri also thanked the FIPP for supporting the Association of Indian Magazines, which was a very young organisation. He called the sixth IMC one of the most successful conferences, especially because of the announcement of the magazine industry’s acceptance of an ‘Engagement study’ as a measurement system.