Consolidation & digital - the way forward for print media in 2014

From lapping up the digital platform to focussing on ultra niche publications and shift to paid content - print media has its strategy in place for 2014

e4m by Abid Hasan & Saloni Dutta
Updated: Jan 6, 2014 9:17 AM
Consolidation & digital - the way forward for print media in 2014

The year 2013 witnessed print media shutting down several titles – The Times of India’s Crest edition, People, Geo and Marie Claire magazines. Moreover, there was also a lot of people movement in the domain in 2013, with editors resigning or being asked to leave.

The year 2014 is expected to be no better than 2013 for the print domain. To evolve and grow, print as a medium will continue to merge with the digital medium in order to increase its reach to non traditional media and thereby a larger set of audience.

As a general trend, print players feel that newspaper cover prices should increase. Publishing houses will focus on evolving strong digital magazines and focus on how digital platforms transfer content.

Print goes digital, working towards a hybrid model of offering
With a major chunk of population having access to mobile devices, digital is the platform where most print players are headed to, if not already there. For some publications, the subscription of their online editions is almost equal to the print copy subscription. There would also be an increased focus on innovative interplay and co-creation of print and digital campaigns and the digital readership will continue to grow at a higher pace in 2014. It will also depend on the smart phone penetration in the country which will play a very important role in its growth targets.

Shift towards paid content
We would see a shift towards paid content. Publishers will be forced to evolve a model that will charge more for the content that they give now to the customer. Another expected trend would be newspapers moving from selling space to selling solutions, where they bundle advertising, editorial and round table events together.

Regional will maintain its popularity
With the metros and larger cities increasingly witnessing intense competition, marketers, advertisers and publishers will continue to consolidate and foray into regional areas, especially in Tier II and III cities. Last year, the industry witnessed new entrants in different regional markets and all of them performed well.

Hyper-local, specialised, TG-targeted editions on the rise
Last year we saw a lot of hyper local and city specific editions being launched by various print organisations. This trend will continue to grow as more and more editions are being launched with each passing day. Also, the number of special editions aimed at a very specific target group will also increase as they provide content to a niche audience and also help marketers reach a very specific TG. There will be a significant and sustained move towards larger marketing investments in regional print media by almost all advertisers, especially in Tier II and III markets. Print would be impactful in tactical advertising for sales push scheme, instead of brand or product visibility advertising and would drive media planners to look at specific cities in order to maintain and sustain continuous growth.

Ad revenues to depend on the state of the market
Print players expect GDP to rebound, from low bottom of 2013, on the basis of various reforms initiative which are taken by central government in last 4-6 months. The impact of general elections as well as state election in 2014 will also play an important role in bringing more money in the market and print media will benefit the most. We expect a cautious approach to expansions till the market begins to shows signs of revival again. Publications are trying to make for the absence of advertising by increasing circulation prices, cover prices etc.

Rise of niche magazines
A bit more consolidation will happen in magazine space as lots of niche magazines have come up in last one year and that is a trend that we will continue to see in 2014. More special interests magazine are also expected to enter the market.

New IRS will paint a better picture
Print players were expecting the new IRS version in December 2013, but it got delayed. Though Nielsen and MRUC promised error free, transparent and large sample data to the print players last year, the latest readership numbers are yet to be released even though the pilot study took off in March 2013 while the field was work initiated in May 2013.

As technology has got priority over physical survey this time, we are looking for an error free data with larger sample size. All the print players are expecting the new version of IRS to roll out this month as it will set the tone for readership and revenue in 2014.

Online space will attract more advertisements from various brands
Internet usage in India is still driven by the youth. Smaller towns have witnessed rapid growth with active internet users coming from less than 5 lakh towns. There are more than 17 million internet users accessing and out of these, a third accesses the internet several times a day. This growing rate of internet users is opening the door for all the online spaces to attract more and more advertisers to showcases their brands.

Breaking news and social media
Social media has become a new platform to get news these days. The first place where we stumble upon breaking story these days is usually Twitter or Facebook. This is a trend that will continue to grow in 2014. Also, if the news article is accompanied by a picture it makes the story more credible.

With inputs from Rahul Kansal, Executive President, Brand Function, BCCL; Anant Nath, Director, Delhi Press Group; Pradeep Dwivedi, Chief Corporate Sales and Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group; I Venkat, Director, Eenadu

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