India has been one of the key markets for Time Out, with the magazine’s editions present in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore. Time Out is now gearing to do more on the events front and on the digital side in India. The company’s Chairman and Founder, Tony Elliott, speaks to exchange4media on the potential that India holds.
Time Out has completed seven years in India and according to Elliott, it had been a “fabulous experience” so far. He said, “There is more than one city in India already – we have Time Out in three relevant destinations -- Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, but we would hope, as things allow, and we go to more cities. The brand is firmly established in India.”
The Digital Focus
Digital is one of the key areas where Elliott expects the India team to focus on. According to him, there was no avoiding digital. “It is going to cost time and money, but you have to do it, so you may as well do it right. For us, digital has become an important platform, where users access Time Out and it has created an alternate revenue model as well,” observed Elliott.
He elaborated, “Online is another kind of publishing, but many of the old rules still apply, which means you need quality readership in a certain number and you need them to keep coming back. There is growing amount of advertising available which goes to the site, where there is traffic. Particularly in our case, the experience is that if there is a film company that promoting a new film, they need to advertise on the Time Out site, because they know that is where people go for films. But the big thing that will be very significant for us is transactions.”
Time Out’s core proposition is information, and according to Elliott, people who saw this information did something about it, whether it was going to a restaurant, buying a book, watching a play or a movie, and at each point they were spending money. He added, “We are in a fantastic position, where we can take a percentage of ticketing or other revenue, and this is not true for many others. If we could get say 20 per cent of all restaurants in a city booked from our website, and we get a fee for that, it represents a huge amount of revenue that is not present through print. The numbers online is big, and so are the revenues.” Transactions are expected to be executed in India soon to.
Time Out at present is in the process of working on its tablet app, which would be largely modelled after the iPhone app. Elliott said that the company’s mobile strategy had done well in London and New York and these were expected to see presence in India soon too.
Another area where Time Out is betting on digital is generating information from involved parties. “By definition, everything we write about takes place somewhere and organised by someone. They can enter all that information in the database themselves, so the acquisition of information is that much quicker and costs us nothing,” explained Elliott.
Time Out on ground
Time Out is also in the process of utilising the events platform and has announced the Time Out Food Awards, which is an award platform for the culinary industry. Elliott does not shy from saying that even as he does not directly edit and hence, is directly involved with the Indian editions, he sees them as the best in the environment they are in. However, it is the India team that he admires the most from the Time Out India experience. He said, “You can tell that everybody cares, and are very aware of the quality of what should be going into the magazine. People here are very comfortable with digital. They are enthusiastic about it and see it very much a part of what they should be doing. If the right kind of things happen, then the information online will be seen as the important go-to source in India. And the magazine might be an extra. But this doesn’t rule out the role of print.”
Where does India fall in the overall Time Out scheme of affairs? “That’s a very unfair question,” stated Elliott. He added, “These markets are all different, but there is a lot of potential in India. The key thing here is that they have got well established in seven years, but there is a lot more to do on the digital side now, and we will support the market in every way possible.”