The third and fourth sessions of the Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) 2007 that got underway in Mumbai from October 8 dealt with issues as varied as online magazines to mobile content sharing. The sessions also saw emphasis being laid on mobile advertising revenue generation and the importance of partnering with international publication houses.
The third session dealt with the strategies to attract online magazines readers. Speakers stressed that the online magazine should not be replicated with what was available in print since online readers were different. Rupert Heseltine, Deputy Chairman, Haymarket Group, said, “Give the users what they want, be agile in the approach to them, and bear in mind that content is king in the online space. The embrace of technology is as important because if technology, design and content do not go hand-in-hand, all efforts may go waste.”
Heseltine also put forth fundamental questions to understand the interest of the online readers as well as to comprehend competition. He said that the understanding of revenue models was equally important to understand, and that these were some of the important challenges in the multimedia platform.
Ajit Balakrishnan, Founder and CEO, Rediff.com, said, “Speed in online magazine space is important because the speed with which online interactions are responded is far too encouraging. The challenge here is that the expertise as a journalist is as important as is that of product management and as a techno-savvy personality to survive in the competitive world of digital media and convergence.”
Giordano Bruno Contestable of Arenamobile spoke at length on the importance of convergence. Talking about the importance of mobile, he said, “Being online through the cell phone is more a social shift than a technological one, and we have to take care that the age group of 14-18 has a spread attention span, and therefore reduced viewing. It is therefore important to harness the power of mobile.”
He also said that mobile content should engage a wider audience and reach the target group everywhere, and build new audiences. The mobile space should also be used to sell content, as well as to for advertising. Contestable said that advertising revenue worldwide would go up to $2 billion in the next five years, and no one could therefore afford to miss the advertising revenue that mobile would fetch.
Another important and interesting topic that emerged in the fourth session was whether international partnerships would work well. Mala Sekhri, Publishing Director, Cosmopolitan, said, “I do not agree that international partnerships would hamper publication industry. Partnerships help in cost cutting, writing styles improve, and it also attracts advertisers. So, one should start with licensing in the magazine industry and then move on to get into joint venture.”
Joakim Nagale of G+J International said that before collaborating with international partners, one should ask questions like if there was a match in ethical code of conduct between the partnering organisations. According to him, other questions that needed to be raised include whether the partner had publishing as well as online expertise, and whether the potential partners had similar cultural values.
The discussion also brought to the fore certain challenges in partnering with international organisations. Interference in designing, content and other issues from the licenser could be a big challenge, but could be corrected if both partners develop a personal understanding.