Print media players are caught in a fix whether to increase ad rates to counter the spiralling printing costs. However, most publications do not foresee a backlash from advertisers in case the rates are hiked.
Says Nutan Sen, GM, Asian Age, “The printing costs have gone up visibly. We took the decision of coming up with a revised rate card in April 2004. There was 18 per cent increase in ad rates – which was sizeable. Now with the shift of column centimetres into square centimetres, most publications are coming up with revised ad rates towards mid-October and, among them there are Times of India and Mid-Day. No doubt that the advertisers would feel the crunch, but really speaking, the crunch is not all that much if you look at the overall advertising investment. Moreover, the industry functions more or less on the basis of negotiations and long-standing relationships and so on. So, if you are asking whether most advertisers would decrease their spends on print, I think, they won’t.”
Bharat Kapadia, Publisher, Chitralekha, asserts, “Well, there have been changes in the international market and on account of that printing costs (the cost of paper, ink and so on) have risen quite a bit. Undoubtedly, publications would have to make up for the added expenditure in some way and the only option is to hike the ad rates. I don’t think that there would be an advertiser backlash per se, because everyone has to accept that there is a genuine need at this point to increase the rates. Moreover, it’s not just one daily that‘s bringing in a revised rate card rather it’s the whole lot of them. As far as Chitralekha is concerned, we are also considering a development of the kind and a concrete decision will be taken very soon.”
Cyriac Mathew, Marketing Head, Mid-Day, says, “We are moving from column centimetres to square centimetres and there would be a slight increase in ad rates on account of it. But the difference is so marginal that we do not anticipate any precipitated reactions from the advertisers. Mid-Day touches the vein of the people of Mumbai. Our base is ever increasing and we are making more and more revenues on the basis of added value. We have formed long-lasting relationships with various advertisers, and we don’t expect a slight change in our ad rates to hinder that.”
Reflecting the views of the planner community, Manas Misra, Associate Vice President, Initiative, says, “If most of the mainstream dailies are opting for an increase in ad rates, there isn’t much that either planners or brands can do about it. You can’t possibly deviate from print, which forms a big part of your media plan. So even though complaints will be rampant, and disgruntled reactions would emerge from certain quarters, dailies would face no real problems in selling space. Besides, if it’s a genuine cause, the hike in ad rates is completely justified.”
While brands are busy finding ways of sashaying through existing rates and seeking respite from the same through long-term negotiations, print players are in fact revising their price tag, albeit by a small margin. And while the move is likely to bring in disgruntled reactions from certain quarters, the overall consensus is that it still wouldn’t make a considerable difference to the distribution of the ad pie.