Want to know more about golf but don’t know whom to ask? Interested in finding out what marine engineering is all about? There is help now in the form of special interest magazines. There is good news for advertisers, too, as the Return on Investment (ROI) is expected to be better for investment in special interest magazines.
Krishna Tiwari, General Manager, Special Interest Publications (SIP) Division, Infomedia India agreed, “The Indian market is far too under developed vis–a–vis developed economies, and as the country moves forward, with increasing purchasing power, people will indulge and invest more on their passions / special interests. This will give an impetus to special interest reading and information consumption.”
Industry experts agree with the fact that advertisement spend in India, which is too low at present, is set to rise with more special interest magazines expected to be launched. Said Yatin Bansal, CEO, JAM Magazine, “It is similar to the IT field, where you will find lots of small start ups, which once having reached a critical mass with their own efforts, may then get taken over by larger publishing houses.”
Bansal explained, “Special interest magazines arise as a result of individual strengths of the publishers, the desire to do something that they are passionate about, and the inability of publishing systems to deviate from the mainstream publishing. Larger publishing systems find it uneconomical to develop new publishing streams, they just take too long to mature and make money.”
Giving a media perspective, Shashi Sinha, President, Lodestar Media, said, “Special interest magazines will grow as segments become strong. Globally, too, this is the trend. As far as the advertising pie is concerned, we should realise that advertisement contribution in India is far too low. This is not a zero-sum game. So, instead of share transfer within, we will see the whole pie growing in size.”
Smiti Ruia, Publisher, Time Out, seconded the view, saying, “As the economy grows, people demand more variety, more products will be launched and there will be even more for consumers to choose from. In order to know what’s best in particular segments people will need better information and more special interest magazines will emerge. Also, in the age of information being available at the click of a button or remote control, leisure reading will graduate towards what people are passionate about special interest magazines like Overdrive, Time Out, JAM have already succeeded in making a dent and the market seems to be having space for many such magazines. One more positive factor about such magazines seems to be the cause to smile for advertisers in the form of better ROI. It can be argued that since products would be advertised on bass of relevance, ROI may rise.”
Infomedia’s Tiwari said, “Our experience with Infomedia publications (both B2B & B2C) reflects that cost of reaching focused audience is much lower and quality response levels are much higher. This is especially relevant for advertisers with specialized product offerings targeted towards enthusiasts of that category. Special interest publications, with their ability to create communities out of their readers, also add to better understanding and interactivity with the markets for advertisers. This further is a value addition to ROI.”
Time Out’s Ruia felt that the definition of return would change from a response driven mentality to quality of reach and brand and image building.
Views on the effect of special interest magazines on mass media were divided.
Tiwari said, “In short term, mass media will not be impacted as its size and revenues are much larger. Certain product categories like that of industrial products will remain more print friendly but they would have, in any case, rarely used mass media. However in the long term, this might affect the mass media but then both will co-exist.”
Bansal felt that the revenue share of smaller special interest magazines might not grow radically. “It will continue to be dominated by the larger media. Smaller special interest magazines may not get more than 10-15% of the over all pie. They will always compete with larger media once they start growing bigger - hence will be taken over or will no longer remain small,” he pointed out.
It is also quite likely that time spent on such magazines may rise. Sinha opined, “There is no denying that the involvement will be more. Reach and involvement are different things.”
However, Tiwari was of the opinion that as people had multiple modes of receiving information, the time spent on reading might not increase, but would be spent more on what people wanted to know more about and enjoy reading.
All said and done, the future will see more launches of special interest magazines and advertisers of quite a few product categories will get the right platform to advertise their products. Also, the total advertising pie seems all set to rise.
Tiwari had a message for the publishers of special interest titles, “While engaging the relevant reader would remain a challenge for publishers, the content delivery will also have to evolve. Web would be used for facts and figures more, and print for insights and analyses.”