e4m India Brand Conclave: 'Hyper-local content ruling regional media during lockdown'

On the panel - B Srinivasan, Vikatan; Puneet Singhvi, Network18; Divya Bollareddy,  Sakshi TV; Vignesh Vellore, The News Minute; Boby Paul, Manorama Online; with Rohit Raj of The Glitch as moderator

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 3, 2020 12:15 PM
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Digital news consumption has relatively grown post-COVID, and news related to Coronavirus along with hyper-local content has been a favorite among consumers, said experts during a panel discussion at the digital edition of ‘e4m India Brand Conclave - Dakshin Virtual Series’ on Tuesday.

On the panel were B Srinivasan, MD, Vikatan Group; Puneet Singhvi, President - Digital and Corporate Strategy, Network18; Divya Bollareddy, President - IT and Digital - at Sakshi TV & News Paper; Vignesh Vellore, Founder and CEO, The News Minute; and Boby Paul, General Manager, Marketing, Manorama Online; with Rohit Raj, Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, The Glitch, as the moderator.

Raj threw open the discussion posing a general question to the panel about how much increase in digital media consumption have they witnessed.

According to Singhvi, on a relative basis, news consumption on a digital platform is probably higher than OTT. “Everyone in this country is flocking to a destination to find out what's the latest on the economy and health fronts,” he said.

The reason behind this, Singhvi said, is interruption in distribution chains of traditional media platforms like print and radio, in most part of the country, which has lead to the consumer migrating to the digital platform for information.

“We've grown almost 50-60% month on month as of now, across all our digital properties. In some cases, consumption is even higher,” he added.

Agreeing with Singhvi, Srinivasan said he too has witnessed an increase in digital consumption on his platform, but added that print consumption was returning to its original levels. “The good news is that print is coming back. When we came back, we put out questionnaires in our magazines. We got feedback that people were waiting for us to come back. They are willing to come down to distribution check points to collect their copies.”

The Vikatan Group chief also informed that they have seen 300% uptick in usage on their app. They have introduced interactive features like quizzes on the app, which even led to consumers migrating from site to app.

Bollareddy also said that user base has increased tremendously on her platform. According to her, light and positive hyper local news did very well among consumers. “News on local happenings did very well. We were able to bring a platform where people could donate for good causes. We kept things light and positive," she explained.

Taking about the market in Kerala, Paul informed that their newspaper circulation didn't get affected as it was seen as an essential commodity by the local government. Manorama used an offline-online mix to keep the consumer engaged, he said.

“We conducted quizzes - questions were asked at night and results announced during the day - and that helped us to engage both spectrums of the audience," Paul added.

Vellore agreed with Bollareddy's earlier statement, and said that light and positive hyper local content did well among consumers during lockdown. "Doing a lot of hyper local storie led to a lot of spikes. We started putting up positive stories a month after the lockdown so that the morale was uplifted," he informed.

According to Srinivasan, the reason behind the popularity of hyper-local content in regional media was because the migrated consumer wants to stay connected with his roots. "We have always found that hyper local content draws those who have been away from hyper local vicinities. It may not affect to those reading it in English but rather in their regional languages."

Talking about the subscription model, Srinivasan said, "The views have gone through the roof but CPMs have totally washed out. There is a glut in inventory and that won't go away anytime in the near future." He added that the advertiser-driven revenue was going through a lot of change.

Bollareddy informed that though not many players in the regional space have gone behind the paywall, they are all coming up with a consensus and pricing plan. “The spends are going to be small and targeted so the revenue needs to be coming from the reader now," she said.

Singhvi, who heads the digital strategy team of a national media outlet, added, "One of the interesting ways to leverage audience is how we give custom solutions and a lot more advertising opportunities to users."

He further advocated the need for a value proposition. "The kind of value that you're giving to the user and what he gets when he visits, what are the improvements and how we can retain him. We need to come up with a value proposition in order to make them pay,” Singhvi said.

Unlike his fellow panelists, Vellore believes that creating a perception where a user has to pay for general news is going to take a long time. “We are adding a lot more products for a potential membership. We're keeping news as it is but the member gets access to more activities if they go behind the pay wall,” he concluded.

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