The pre-lunch session of day two of the Indian Magazine Congress 2007 saw eminent speakers discuss issues ranging from changing business models to adopting the right mix to ensure consumer engagement while maximising returns. It also saw discussions on the importance of embracing the digital media.
Talking on the rationalisation of cover prices, R Rajmohan of Images Multimedia pointed out that the cover prices five years back were as low as Rs 30, however, with rising costs, publishers had no option but to hike the rates. “Today, some magazines charge Rs 100, while we also have magazines with a cover price of Rs 50. It is necessary for publishers to look at value proposition. If you do that cover prices should not be a problem.”
Rajmohan further pointed out that magazines in India were slowly and gradually moving towards niche and speciality markets, and that it was an opportunity for magazine marketers to build communities around them. “Capture the attention of your readers via differentiating with content and building a strong brand,” he said. Rajmohan also talked about the phenomenal retail space available and the fight among marketers to effectively utilise it for enhancing sales and distribution.
B Srinivasan of Anand Vikatan emphasised on using a 360-degree experience. “I know the use of a 360-degree approach is clichéd, but in the context of our publication, it is only via conducting ground events, television programmes, and using platforms like the Internet and radio that we have developed a brand image among our readers.”
Srinivasan, too, spoke about the retail revolution. He said that a lot had changed in the last 10 years and that retail was a huge opportunity for magazine publishers in terms of getting the logistical support. Concluding his presentation, Srinivasan said, “None of the magazines has fructified the several opportunities that have come their way. For language publications, building partnerships with English newspapers and magazines is the key to ensuring more ad sales and revenue.”
Outlook Group’s Suresh Selveraj stressed on the need to look beyond the current business models such as the subscription and ad-based models. He explained that the challenge was to fix the cover price at a higher scale while transferring the burden of rising costs to the readers and not the advertisers anymore.
Selveraj, too, agreed to building communities of subscribers using the retail revolution for distribution and using the Internet for the digitalisation of magazine content. He asked the publishers to look at international markets as well. “There are talks about international magazines coming to India. Why can’t we license deals overseas? The NRI market overseas has tremendous potential, particularly in the area of real estate,” he said.
Malcolm D Mistry of Living Media India spoke about current loopholes in the industry like hyper fragmentation of readers, lower advertising yields, high manpower and retention costs and a poor reach of magazines across markets in India. He emphasised on the need to implement growth strategies – having multiple brands and then reaping the benefits by leveraging resources with one another.
The next session discussed the role of magazine publishers in the digital era, where frequency of content has become irrelevant. Anurag Batra, Editor and Managing Director, exchange4media Group, spoke about convergence and the new ‘age of screenagers’. He further said that medium was irrelevant, it was the content and the online community that mattered the most.
Surya Mantha, CEO, Web18 said that publishers could experiment with the Internet as a medium for content, and gauge its effectiveness over a period of time before zeroing on the final decision on how to utilise media for content generation.
While all panelists emphasised on the importance of content, Mohit Hira of Indiatimes said that the content would not be the king anymore if it had no stickiness. “The Internet is more collaborative, rather it is the extension of the print medium. Content should be tailormade for the Internet with more focus on interactivity and global access.”