Here's what media houses want advertisers to understand

Newspapers cannot afford to lose advertisers as they are a major source of revenue. Here's what publishers want to tell advertisers in a time when the digital wave has disrupted the print industry.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Aug 10, 2018 8:56 AM  | 4 min read

At a time when the business of newspaper has been challenged by the rapid growth and penetration of digital medium, the cost of producing newspapers has gone significantly up due to a spike in newsprint prices. Given the fact that the cover price of newspapers remains highly subsidised due to the competitive market, publishers cannot afford to lose advertisers as they are a major source of revenue. A discussion on the scenario was held at an ongoing media festival in New Delhi.

Challenging the common perception that the era of print industry will end soon, Debabrata Mukherjee, Executive Director, HT Media said, “The mistake we make as platform owners is that we always allow the tyranny of the odd overpower us. We think it is digital or TV or print but there could be a TV, print and digital well segmented.”

“There are two bodies-- ABC which is about ‘reach’ and IRS which is about ‘readership’. There is a third R that advertisers are looking for- ‘response’. Media is chasing eyeballs because eyeballs eventually convert into transactions. If my platform is not able to bring eyeballs, the advertiser will move somewhere else. What is the biggest challenge we face with eyeballs? It is recruitment. Retention is not a big challenge for us,” he said.

Mukherjee further said, “Today, we are willing to do a high-level engagement. If you are willing to win in a city, we will find ways, beyond displays, through our events and through multiple other touch points. We can really help you drive your sales goals because ultimately it’s about revenue. And I can’t be the revenue head of HT, if I am not able to drive the revenue of my advertisers.”

Choosing a different tone to convey his message to the advertisers, Varghese Chandy, Vice President, Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manoram, tried to explain how it has become more costly than ever to keep running a print publication.

“We have almost more than 100 editions that we cater to, almost 2500 employees to bring 2.4 million copies across 80 editions. This doesn’t come for free. It is also the only industry probably where the salaries are governed by the wage board. This all comes with a huge hike in newsprint prices. Newsprint impact is around 67%. For every 50 paise increase in the exchange rate against dollars our liability on newsprint goes up by Rs 2.5 crores,” said Chandy.

“Print is not dying. Newspaper is growing and there is a huge cost to produce it and therefore what I suggest is that we go back to the old days where we worked as partners,” he appealed, while adding that Kerala was the only state where the newspaper’s reach is more than the television’s.

Echoing the line of thought, Vipon Khatwani, Sr VP, Jagran Prakashan, said, “We have 3,500 journalists working for us and unlike digital we are not into breaking news. Any news that comes in gets across six layers of checking before it qualifies for being printed.”

Khatwani also requested the advertisers to look at the cost and hard work that goes behind creating a creditable publication.

“These are things that none of our advertisers are ready to look at. They are only interested in geographies, numbers and then comparing it with digital. But what they miss out is credibility,” he said.

In his attempt to end the myth that people read only the front page of a newspaper and not other pages, Chandan Majumdar, Director Sales, ABP Group, said, “I have interacted with probably thousands of readers in the last 5-6 years as I have been in the marketing side. No reader reads only the front page. The newspaper may not be consumed from the first corner to the bottom right corner of the last page, but readers significantly read more than the first page.”

In his message about how publishers and advertisers need each other, Debabrata Mukherjee said, “As you change, we change; as you become more nimble and humble, we become more nimble and humble; your revenue problems are my revenue problems; you recruit the new generation of your consumers, we, by recruiting our next generation of readers, help you recruit the next generation of your consumers.”

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