Pradeep Dwivedi, Chief Corporate Sales & Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group writes about the trends that print witnessed in the year 2015 and expectations from the coming year.
2015 has been the year of print and digital coming together with strategic diversity in approach for utilisation of the medium by marketers and advertisers. The theory of chaos ordains that small differences in initial conditions of any system yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamic environment, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. The print industry is also not immune to it, and hence it would be unfair to generalise the inferences. However, some highlights observed this year are listed herein, and it remains to be seen whether they will, ultimately, result in a sustainable trend for the coming year or not.
Content remains king
Demanding readers, growing opinions, digital profligacy, accurate and yet differentiated coverage, placed greater demands on the industry. The need to continuously improve the content, design and tone continues to dominate the editorial rooms. Stickiness will be a huge factor for the industry, and the future belongs to those who will quickly adapt to readers’ needs.
Emergence of effectiveness via impact
2015 saw advertisers looking at print to deliver impact more than frequency. From dominating jackets to half jackets, front page innovations to perfumed papers, advertisers were looking at print to deliver the difference which TV couldn’t provide. If one combined this with the local reach and other consumer connect programmes that the newspapers partnered with brands, and then surely over 25 per cent of the business was generated through this. This is a welcome change and possibly the way forward.
Mixed bag in advertising rates
A significant trend witnessed this year, especially in regional print, was the tendency of some publications to drop advertising rates substantially via volume-centric offers on jackets and full pages in order to garner revenues throughout the first three quarters of this fiscal. While their revenues did grow, one wonders at what cost? In trying times, the stronger brands should have dug in and demanded their fair price, which would have sent out the right signal to the industry. Instead, fear of the future reigned and did a lot more damage to the industry as a whole. Dropping prices is the easiest way to sell, but is it the wisest? Time alone will tell.
Unlike last year, we did not witness too many launches in the print space. Most major players were busy with consolidation of their market positions and looking at M&A options.
Online Retail finds UnMetros
This year the e-commerce business saw a plethora of entrants, each trying to outdo the other, in effect trying to outshout the others. 2015 saw online retail giants, both home-grown and MNCs, benefit by taking a sustained exposure to the potential of UnMetro Markets, as many of the online players now get over half of their sales from smaller towns. Not surprisingly, they used print to gain maximum sales traction. Regional print was often chosen by them to partner their ambitious drive for sales. Print chosen as a strategic partner is an indication that print and digital are ‘comfortable partners’. Possibly, this will be the way forward, once the euphoria of digital purchasing stabilises and forming long term opinions becomes the strategic intent for the e-commerce players.
Popularity of Apps
There is an app for virtually everything now. UnMetros have shown no dissonance to apps. Many in smaller towns routinely book taxis through app now – a sight unthinkable a year ago. However, an app only strategy may be still uncertain for most, for example a leading fashion lifestyle app re-looking to have a mobile website presence now. In such a scenario, the continued reliance on print medium to promote the app or website presented an interesting and unique (perhaps) approach. Here print was used extensively to promote digital adoption and symbiotic marketing.
End in sight to IRS conundrum?
On the IRS front meanwhile, there is a slow and steady progress on a variety of issues between publishers and RSCI. There is a constant dialogue and many recommendations have been taken on board. Nielsen has spelt out a revised road map with increase in sample sizes and enhancement of security measures. One hopes to see real progress and to get IRS back on board as an established metric for print as soon as possible.
ABC – sustained enduring currency
With the readership survey yet to take off using the new data collection methodology, the old warhorse ABC continued to be the measure mechanism depended on for newspaper rankings.
As shared in the Ad Club media review earlier this year, print media remains an effective antidote to continuous partial attention of the audiences, and hence is all set to grow from strength to strength in the coming year too.