IMC 2014 is back; this year it wants to 'win through innovation'

The eighth Indian Magazine Congress, organised by AIM will offer a platform to the magazine industry to discuss key issues & the way forward in Delhi on February 24 and 25

e4m by Abid Hasan
Published: Feb 7, 2014 8:34 AM  | 4 min read
IMC 2014 is back; this year it wants to 'win through innovation'

Indian Magazine Congress (IMC), the annual conference organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), will put the spotlight once again on the magazine industry in India. The eighth edition of IMC has as its theme – ‘Winning Through Innovation’. The conference will offer a platform for people linked to the print media industry, directly or indirectly, to share their experiences and thoughts as well as provide their insights on the best practices for the industry.

Indian Magazine Congress 2014 will be held in Delhi on February 24 and 25.

Speaking on the key focus areas for the Congress this year, Tarun Rai, President, AIM and CEO, Worldwide Media said, “The Indian Magazine Congress is a platform to share best practice of our business from India and around the world. People are flying down from Europe and the USA to speak at the congress. Even though the economic conditions are tough, exciting things are happening in the magazine business. Publishers are looking way beyond the paper and ink format to deliver great content to their readers. And they are creating multiple revenue streams from their powerful brands. The Congress is a great opportunity to learn and of course, to network for the magazine industry professionals.”

Highlighting the importance of the magazines, R Rajmohan, Chairman, 8th IMC and Publisher, Open Media said, “Magazines are an extremely unique medium, incomparable to others. To begin with, the relationship a reader has with a magazine is distinctive and personal. Quality content, to build and maintain this relationship, sets magazines apart from all the other reading/ consuming experiences. It is a two-way affair.”

He also added, “Print, the most critical part of our existence and business, is here to stay and its inherent strengths have to be consistently communicated to the stakeholders. Hence, the focus areas this year are  print, content, efficacy of magazines, the power of Indian language magazines, B2B publishing, new avenues through digital media and tablets and monetising them, etc. The current economic conditions make it pertinent that we look at new media and opportunities, while continuing to strengthen our 'core relationship' with readers through print media.Increasingly, the focus of advertisers has been on reaching and connecting with the individuals. Hence, magazines play a larger role today, particularly in the 'Attention Economy'.”

Sharing his thoughts, Mitrajit Bhattacharya, Vice President, AIM said, “Innovation is the key to success in the current economic scenario and hence the theme of the 8th IMC is ‘Winning Through Innovation’. All the sessions - panels and keynote, hopefully will address the power of innovation to keep the magazine industry ahead. IMC, this year has varied topics being covered from traditional to digital media, research to content management, advertising to media planning and many more.”

When asked about the expectation from IMC 2014, he replied, “Since we have lined up some of the best speakers from India and abroad, the expectations are naturally high. I think the 8th IMC will deliver adequate food for thought for each delegate at the end of the two days. We can listen to Indian honchos such as Anand Kripalu, Rajan Anandan, Sam Balsara, alongside international stalwarts such as Peter Masson, Chris Llewellyn, Fiona Mcintosh, and Mike Greehan. I want the 8th IMC to fulfil both its key objectives - learning on all subjects that affect our industry and networking/ business development.”

IMC 2014 has an impressive speaker line-up that includes-
Amy Mangino- International Licensing Manager, Bonnier
Anand Kripalu - Chief Executive Officer Designate, Diageo
Anant Nath- Editor, Caravan & Director, Delhi Press
Anita Nayyar- CEO India & South Asia at Havas Media
Annurag Batra- Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media group
Anupriya Acharya- Group CEO, ZenithOptimedia Group
Aroon Purie- Editor-in-Chief & Chairman, The India Today Group
Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today Group
B Srinivasan, Managing Director, Vasan Publications
Chris Llewellyn, President and CEO, FIPP
Fiona McIntosh, Editor, Grazia
Girish Ramdas, CEO and Co-Founder, Magzter
Maheshwer Peri, Chairman, Pathfinder Publishing India Private Limited
Manish Tewari, Minister for Information and Broadcasting
Mike Greehan, Partner and COO, Cue Ball Media
Mike Lovell, International Director, Licensing, Meredith
Mitrajit Bhattacharya, President & Publisher, Chitralekha Group
Patric Fuller, Group Publishing Director, Haymarket
Peter Masson, Partner, Bucknull & Masson
Pradeep Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, CyberMedia
Rajan Anandan, Vice President and Managing Director, Google India
Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATMedia
Ruth Feldman, VP International Editorial Director, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison World( Invited)
Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, India
Sourav Majumdar, Managing Editor, Forbes India
Tanya Chaitanya, Editor, Femina, WWM
Tarun Rai, CEO, WWM & President, AIM

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Such was Ved Pratap Vaidik

Guest Column: Umakant Lakhera, president of the Press Club of India, remembers the senior journalist

By Umakant Lakhera | Mar 14, 2023 5:14 PM   |   2 min read

Ved Pratap Vaidik

Ved Pratap Vaidik was one of the most prominent names in Hindi journalism for nearly six decades. Being an editor in Delhi, he had good relationships with prominent leaders in the country's politics.

Due to his simple nature, he mixed with people very easily. He was friendly with many leaders of the country and abroad, especially South Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and the sub-continent. However, despite being a supporter of BJP and Sangh ideologies, his neglect in the new-old BJP has been surprising to many.

He was the leader of the Indian language movement. For a long time, he was actively associated with the campaign to advance all languages of the country.

My first meeting with Ved Pratap ji happened in 1988 during many programmes in Delhi. Later, the series of meetings continued in his office in PTI-Bhasha and later in South Ex. Wherever we met, he used to meet with great affection. He would never make us feel that he was such a senior journalist.

When he was invited as a speaker at the Press Club of India after the Taliban took over power in Kabul last year, he readily agreed.

Even at this point of age, writing something new every day was a part of his daily routine. A special quality of his writing was to give information to the common readers on the most difficult subject in simple language, so that everyone could easily understand complex issues.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


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Magazines remain media’s darlings!

Guest Column: Minette Ferreira, General Manager-Lifestyle and Community News, Media24, South Africa, shares how magazines have reinvented themselves in the digital age, more so during Covid

By Minette Ferreira | Mar 14, 2023 3:47 PM   |   6 min read

Minette Ferreira

Yes, we can talk about declining print revenues, shrinking readerships and the bruises Covid left on magazines worldwide. It certainly changed how we do business at Media24, South Africa’s biggest publisher. However, navigating these initial dire realities are now our inspirator. After digging a little deeper, we found opportunities that keep our innovative teams busy and excited and our communities engaged.


Niche to meet you!

During the Covid lockdowns, we saw a huge spike in consumption of niche content (most of it in print) like puzzles, gardening, knitting and cooking among South African audiences.

We know online consumers are looking to be informed of current events and entertained by escapist content. This is quite an odd mix for traditional media brands – how do we tick all the boxes for our users on one platform without compromising credibility or entertainment value?

Exactly that drove our niche focus – especially in the lifestyle space. All our 14 magazine titles are now publishing brand extensions that focus on special interests within the core markets that fill the gaps the digital world can’t necessarily capture locally. And where practical, we have the content available online. We publish more than 100 special interest magazines yearly – serving a multitude of special interest communities.

For example, our leading English female title Fair Lady publishes stand-alone diet magazines that focus on current trends – be it banting or fasting. The one brand extension that really hit the spot recently, is a menopause-focused publication titled HOT. We will also be hosting reader conferences this year on the topic.


Dear reader, show us the money (and your data)

The biggest challenge for traditional media is obviously the change in our business model - advertising revenue from traditional sources has shifted. In answer to this, we re-focussed on our core premise: Content. Delivering compelling, relevant, always-fresh quality content on world class delivery platforms.

Firstly, we increased print products’ cover prices quite significantly over the past few years. Our editors had a hard time with this one – they believed paying so much more would shrink our audiences significantly. Yes, the print audience numbers declined, but the trade-off on revenue has been an essential win.

Secondly, we invested heavily in the digital subscription model. PDF copies as well as sharing our brand content on Media24’s top digital news platforms, have ensured our communities have a digital home. And it is not for free.

It’s no secret: If a user sees value in unique content, they will come and they will pay.

The resistance to paying for digital content was initially miscalculated by digital publishers across the globe. Our focus on delivering trustworthy content delivered seamlessly to audiences is showing positive signs. We have seen successes that include Media24’s Afrikaans news paywall platform, Netwerk24, which launched in 2014 and has now almost reached 100 000 subscribers. The success of Netwerk24 has been hugely dependent on our ability to provide compelling, original, and premium content for a very specific audience. We have branched out by providing different content types, including audiobooks, games, short form soapies, and relevant video content. Essentially it is content that is unique, exclusive, and compelling.


Creating centres of content excellence

To ensure we could maintain and even improve the quality of content of our magazines, we introduced a new model in 2020 and outsourced the editorial functions of six of our magazines.

Despite the model being an effective cost management strategy, Covid highlighted the need of our editorial teams to operate more freely. In each case, existing editors established their own media company and created a partnership with Media24. Now Media24 focuses on the business of the business: Advertising sales, distribution, and marketing. And the creatives can focus on what they love – corporate hassles and red tape are no longer part of their lives. They run their own businesses, put together their own teams and most importantly, have more capacity than before to innovate and create content that speaks to their communities. Each of these publications are thriving – creatively and financially.


The more, the merrier!

The transition for our brands from paper to online has been an ongoing process of trial and error over the past two decades. More recently we decided to ringfence a few of our traditional print brand’s online presence under a new brand. (an acronym for soccer, news and lifestyle) launched in September 2022 and is a curated platform providing a home for five titles that have a resonance in the middle black South African market. It includes two soccer titles, a news tabloid, a lifestyle and female title.

The new platform SNL24 appeals to soccer fans and those in search of engaging news and entertaining lifestyle content. Aimed at the middle and upper-middle markets, SNL24 boasts a potential target audience of 3.7 million and, when combined with an established print audience of 2.1 million, offers a comprehensive, integrated, and multi-platform communication opportunity for advertisers. The brands represented on the platform all have significant audience credibility and loyalty and complement each other as a collective, together improving their individual abilities to retain eyeballs.

What SNL24 has taught us is that scale improves our ability to migrate audiences to a digital platform and it takes time to build new brands. The platform uses AI to identify brand lovers and keeps them busy with their preferred content – and will then introduce more content from the other brands based on their reading preferences. Despite its recent launch the unique browser stats are really encouraging. And with a low-priced subscription model, we hope to not only build scale but grow additional revenue in the long run via paying consumers.

(And a side-note – destroying the silos between newspapers and magazines and refocusing content on communities and interest groups, has been much easier than I ever dreamed.)

It’s certainly not bad news for magazines. The world is waiting for our darlings.


Ferreira will speak at Indian Magazine Congress on March 24.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of




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Is AI really going to change our world?

James Hewes – President & CEO, FIPP, shares his experience of putting ChatGPT to test

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 13, 2023 11:43 AM   |   3 min read


A few weeks ago, I decided to do some preparation for our annual FIPP World Media Congress, which takes place in Portugal in June, by writing my opening remarks. Normally, I would stand up and say a few words about the state of the industry and FIPP’s achievements over the past year.

Given all of the noise and attention around the raft of new AI writing tools that have seemingly emerged from nowhere all at once, I thought I would put ChatGPT to the test, and give it the task of writing my speech for me. 

Having prompted it, there followed a short period of deep thought, then a sudden rapid regurgitation of text. The speech, amounting to some 350 words was, at first glance quite well-written, containing phrases like “change is the only constant”, “we believe in the power of publishing” and “let us seize this opportunity to be bold”. I sat back thinking “task completed” and felt quite proud of myself. 

But then I started to re-read what the computer had written, and doubt crept into my mind. Were there too many clichés? Could these words actually apply to any event, not just a publishing conference? And, most of all, did it really sound like me? In the end, I’ve decided not to use it, realising that the text was somehow less than the sum of its parts. With a clean piece of paper, I’ve written it again, only this time it sounds more like me.

Amidst all the hype about AI-driven journalism, and the idea that it is going to come and steal our jobs, perhaps here is a dose of realism. AI is undoubtedly a very clever tool and, for many routine jobs, even routine journalism, it will perhaps prove to be a significant time-saver. But we must never delude ourselves into thinking that it is human, or that it is able to think and produce like a human. 

It is only ever the sum of its parts, in this case whatever limited information about FIPP, our industry and the event that it was able to scrape from the internet. (Incidentally, much of its learning is enabled by content that we ourselves have produced, without any compensation to us for taking these fruits of our labours to build a new product, but that’s another story…)

Only humans are able to provide that intuitive leap of the imagination, to forge the seemingly invisible connection or to come up with a wonderful, original turn of phrase that lingers in the mind. We must remain confident in our ability to out-smart the computers and, as in my case, pick up our metaphorical paper and pen and get back to the business of doing the thing only we can do – making compelling content.

James Hewes – President & CEO, FIPP, will be speaking at the Indian Magazine Congress. IMC is all set for a comeback as the flagship event of the Association of Indian Magazines. It is slated to be organised on March 24th, at the Oberoi, New Delhi.

The conference agenda is live at

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Building Engaged Communities: How magazines stay relevant in changing media landscape

Guest Column: B Srinivasan, President of AIM and MD of Ananda Vikatan, writes on the strength and significance of magazines

By B Srinivasan | Mar 13, 2023 11:22 AM   |   5 min read

Ananda Vikatan

Ever since I took on the responsibility of the President of AIM at the peak of the pandemic in Sep 2020, it has been my dream to showcase the strength and significance of magazines in the media landscape. 

Having spent over three decades of my life in the pursuit of keeping myself relevant, I am patently biased towards the magazine media industry, but here goes! 

The magazine is a unique medium that has always driven perspective and enabled its communities to draw insights, rather than simply reporting and provoking audiences like most other media. We thrive in digging deep, and then digging wide in our coverage of happenings around us. We groom thinking and discerning communities and that has traditionally attracted our utility as an ideal brand building platform for compelling brand stories. 

Yet, in India, magazines are a small fraction of the print media industry- in single digits percentage- while our counterparts in the west, are almost equal the size of newspaper sector! What were the building blocks that enabled this mega size in West, and ones that we have seemingly missed in India. What could we learn from our international peers? 

My intrigue was enhanced by the approach of the west when digital became centre stage to our future. They had adapted and adopted best practices by experimenting and chiselling their way through consistently creating engaging communities. 

Whilst the typical magazine brands of yesteryear was successful when it was ‘broad-based’, of ‘general interest’ and meant ‘something for everyone in the family’, the magazine brands that succeed now are ones that cater to specific interests of a communities, are utilitarian to their readers and subscribers, represent value not just for money, but more important, for the only irreplaceable component of our daily lives – time!  

I had to unlearn and relearn everything I thought I knew about my industry. 

All this came to me from my partaking in international seminars like AIM’s Indian Magazine Congress, FIPP’s World Magazine Congress, FIPP-DZW Digital Innovators’ Summit, and so many more. Learnings in these events came not just from the deeply insightful presentations that these world class speakers showcased, but from heated debates and interactions I had on the side-lines of these events. 

In a world where readers have also become our competition (influencers), fake news has overtaken relevance over fact checking, ChatGPT has almost crossed the Rubicon of human reportage with machine language (AI/ML), when big tech and governments in vibrant democracies decide what is content ripe for take-down, it is ever so important that we discuss our concerns around policy, technology, distribution, client needs, and most importantly, what our communities expect of us. 

That is what we have been fostering under the hood for 6 months now. We are proud to present AIM’s 12th Indian Magazine Congress – Building Engaged Communities 

The road has been anything but straight and narrow. For starters, we all took giant leaps of faith! 

Faith that we could actually pull off such an international event when the market was still bearish, faith that we would make up the costs and contribute to AIM’s corpus when we then had no sponsors in sight, faith in our moonlighting skills - agonising over the agenda, curating the best of speakers, getting sponsors to commit, fixing the venue and ensuring that policymakers, clients, agencies, tech partners, international speakers and delegates. 

One look at the agenda ( and any publisher will realise that we are addressing magazines in the post pandemic new reality. 

The magazine industry took a crippling hit during the pandemic.   

  • Distributors were crushed under the weight of holding fort their last mile to the customer, while the country was convulsing under unpredictable, successive lockdowns. 
  • Advertisers lost hope that people would ever return to buy goods and services ‘the good old way’ – while online was clearly becoming a ‘tiger by the tail’ – more and more opaque, expensive, unrelenting.
  • Readers, viewers, surfers – communities were creating their own content like never before, opinion makers being hailed as truth tellers, and big media being relegated to ungracious truants.
  • Our own people were losing morale with the grapevine of losses and job/ salary cuts. 

Yet, I can say that in these past 3 years, in this new normal – we have come out stronger, more efficient, more willing to adapt and adopt, constantly growing our revenue streams, listening to our communities, creating engaging content around what matters most, having the guts to go behind a paywall, empathising with advertiser needs and creating marketing opportunities that suit client need and community fulfilment rather than force fitting what we have on offer – in short, we survive by transformation to stay relevant. 

The scenario is painfully the same world over, and the answers we have come up with are unique, yet similar.  

Please join us for AIM’s 12th Indian Magazine Congress, to be held at The Oberoi on Friday, 24th March, 2023 and learn how publishers are pulling up their socks, shedding their weight and transforming to stay relevant with only one commitment – to Building Engaged Communities. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of


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Unlocking potential of nano communities by diversifying business models

Guest Column: Jean-Paul Reparon, Agrimedia, Netherlands, shares key fundamentals that can help publishers not only survive but thrive in this dynamic environment

By Jean Paul Reparon | Mar 13, 2023 11:08 AM   |   4 min read

Jean-Paul Reparon

The media landscape is constantly evolving, and publishers are facing increasingly complex challenges. However, there are some key fundamentals that can help publishers not only survive but thrive in this dynamic environment. As a small B2B publisher in the Dutch agricultural landscape, we have found success by focussing on the following fundamentals that are likely to be effective for other publishers as well.

360֯ Ecosystem: Creating a comprehensive experience for readers is crucial. This includes providing content through various channels, like events, magazines, newsletters, and more. By creating an ecosystem that caters to the diverse needs of their audience, publishers can keep their readers engaged and loyal.

Right time, right content, right channel: Identifying the right channels to reach readers is equally important. With so many channels available today, publishers must identify which channels their readers prefer and optimize content for those channels.

Content worth a subscription: To ensure that content is worth a subscription, publishers must focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that readers are willing to pay for. This can be achieved by investing in editorial talent, conducting thorough research, and ensuring that content is fact-checked and verified.

Expanding audiences: Identifying, reaching, engaging, and expanding the target audience is another crucial aspect of success for publishers. This can be accomplished through various marketing strategies, including paid advertising, social media, and SEO.

Collecting first-party data: Building a database with information about each user is essential for publishers. By collecting data about their audience, publishers can understand their interests and develop relevant products. This data can also be used to create targeted campaigns and personalized content.

Keep advertisers aligned: Developing commercial propositions that match the publisher's mission statement, add value for readers and advertisers, and meet market demand is important. By creating commercial propositions that align with their brand and mission, publishers can build a loyal following of readers and advertisers.

Customer service: Optimizing customer service is critical for publishers. Providing personal contact, good accessibility, real-time access to content, accessible content on multiple devices, and easy-to-use platforms are essential for publishers to compete with other companies that set the standard for excellent customer service.

These fundamentals have helped AgriMedia to succeed in the challenging media landscape. By employing editors who know our target group very well and providing relevant daily content that resonates with our readers, we have been able to build a strong reputation and a loyal base of subscribers.

We have also expanded our target audience through targeted campaigns. Collecting data about our audience allows us to create personalized content and newsletters that increase engagement and build loyalty.

We also decided to open our website for commercial content while maintaining respect for our readers. We have clearly indicated which content has been created by our editorial team and which content has been created by our partners. Our primary business model is based on subscriptions, making independent journalism a valuable asset.

By opening our website for commercial content, we had to keep in mind that we must guide our partners to create relevant and high-quality content to maintain the standard of our own product. Collaborating with partners provides us with an opportunity to ensure that the quality of their content aligns with our standards. This not only benefits our readers but also enhances the reputation and credibility of our brand. Besides this, it’s also generating extra revenue stream.

In conclusion, being a successful publisher today requires a focus on several fundamentals. By creating a comprehensive experience for readers, focussing on added value for readers and advertisers, producing high-quality content, expanding the target audience, collecting data, aligning with advertisers, and diversifying business models, publishers can thrive in today's challenging media landscape.

Jean Paul Reparon, Managing Director of Dutch B2B Publisher AgriMedia BV (, will be speaking at the Indian Magazine Congress about these fundamentals and how AgriMedia is “striking gold with nurturing nano communities” (of a few thousand each).  IMC is all set for a comeback as the flagship event of the Association of Indian Magazines. It is slated to be organised on March 24th at the Oberoi, New Delhi.

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New challenges in ad sales

Guest Column: Jim Elliott writes on why one sales approach doesn’t work for all publications

By Jim Elliott | Mar 13, 2023 11:08 AM   |   3 min read


In 2023, more than 7,500 magazines are listed in the American advertising industry’s reference source, SRDS — 2,839 consumer magazines and 3,814 business publications.   Magazines produced by associations may fall into either category.  The Elliott Company sells advertising and sponsorships for publishers in all three of these categories.  We are reminded daily that no one sales approach can work for all of them.

Today, in the US, and I suspect around the world, selling advertising and sponsorship has become much more complicated than ever before, requiring more skills and more knowledge than just a few years ago.  The proliferation of advertising vehicles can be overwhelming to advertising sales teams unless they are constantly learning and evolving. 

Competitors are no longer limited to similar media and categories.  Magazine publishers must compete for dollars not only with other magazines but also with other mediums; newsletters, podcasts, video, social media, other digital products, and in-person events such as exhibitions, conferences, and summits. 

There are many ways to reach a buyer of goods and services today, and astute salespeople learn as much as they can about all of them.  Many publishers have broadened their offerings to include additional opportunities.  Of course, sellers need to understand how to compete against elements introduced by other media brands. Sellers must know how all the opportunities created by publishers they represent can work together to maximize value to advertisers and sponsors. 

There are so many ways to reach buyers — and so many different sellers representing them — that potential advertisers can be overwhelmed and distracted. Sellers must ask questions and listen so that they fully understand exactly the marketer’s goals and the best vehicles to help them reach those goals.  

One of the most effective approaches our sales teams offer is brand studio work.  Advertising is tailored to fit the content in which it appears.  Some publishers allow their editorial staff to work with advertisers; others have different writers.  The key is for the marketing product developed in the brand studio to mesh with the editorial. 

Selling advertising has gotten more complicated, and it promises to become even more so.  Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, just now becoming popular, will allow mass customization of outreach.  A recent white paper by the data company MediaRadar points out that artificial intelligence will dramatically multiply the number of advertisers a sales team can contact.  The benefit is that AI will reduce the time required by ad sellers to do their preparation for marketers and agencies.  The downside is that every competitor will have access to similar tools and the volume of “relevant” messages aimed at each marketer and agency will grow exponentially.

Successful sales organizations will need to find answers to challenges like artificial intelligence, just as they are finding solutions to the problem of proliferation of advertising and sponsorship opportunities.  Publishers will need to hire salespeople with the curiosity and motivation to stay abreast of constant innovation and the skill sets that enable them to sell in the changing environment. 

As Rishad Tobaccowala, Senior Advisor to Publicis Groupe says, “the future will not fit the containers of the past”.  Nothing could be truer in the world of advertising sales.

Jim Elliott, President, James G Elliott & Co., will be speaking at the Indian Magazine Congress. IMC is all set for a comeback as the flagship event of the Association of Indian Magazines. It is slated to be organised on March 24th at the Oberoi, New Delhi.

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Ditch the clickbait: How prioritizing content excellence pays off

Guest Column: Jan Thoresen, Author and CEO Labrador CMS, writes on ways to make sure your content stands out in the crowded online space

By Jan Thoresen | Mar 13, 2023 11:08 AM   |   3 min read

Jan Thoresen, Author and CEO Labrador CMS

There is a reason why you became a publisher, an editor, or a reporter. You want to publish quality content and take pride in creating the best possible articles about your specific subject. You are committed to producing quality content, and this is why we are in this business.

Over the years, I have seen first-hand the potential and possibilities of online publishing. However, the struggle for profitability and growth can lead to bad journalism - journalism with only one source, with zero sources, or journalism that is under attack from social media, fake news, and synthetic content. I call it disposable journalism. But there are ways to combat this and ensure that you produce quality content that stands out in the crowded online space.

You don't need traffic peaks; you can commercialize them. Sales cannot sell on peaks; they sell predictable ad inventory. Peaks don't retain paid users either. You might convert a few, but they won't stay with you if you baited them in.

At a recent INMA Subscription event in Stockholm, former Chief Economist of Spotify, Will Page, warned publishers against only looking at their own metrics when they optimize their websites. Young people spend most of their time watching videos on their social media, not reading your publication. Your metrics don't know what they see on their mobile, and you don't even know what they read at your competitors. If you optimize for what you already have, you might miss the largest opportunities that you haven't gotten yet.

Firstly, award quality instead of clicks. Traffic will come from direct, social, and search. Instead of focusing solely on clicks, produce quality content that offers real value to your readers. This will not only increase reader loyalty but also attract new readers. Teach your reporters to produce at lower frequencies but better.

Secondly, employ responsible leadership. Keep your eyes on the noble cause of providing quality journalism from your publication. Help reporters, data scientists, and your developers to solve the real problems, how to increase the retention of free and paid users by delivering surprisingly good content. Hold your employees accountable for delivering better. Your readers rely on you to do that.

Thirdly, trust your niche. Your language, geographic location, subject, and expertise have high value for your readers. Embrace it. By focusing on your niche, you can manifest your role as an expert and build a loyal following.

Fourthly, remember that your site is a playlist, not an album. You sell single stories, and people end up on your page from Google or Facebook. They are snacking on your content. Make sure your production quality is visible in a single story. This will ensure that readers know what they can expect from your publication.

Finally, get rid of your 2017 tech stack. In 2023, newspapers and magazines are hosted from the cloud, and the paywall isn't home-built anymore. It's delivered by professionals. That applies to your data tracking, personalization, newsletter, video players, and content management systems as well. We don't build everything in-house anymore, not even in large media groups. What we build is the stuff on top. The shiny stuff that differentiates you from your competitors. That is unique to you.

In Labrador CMS, we spent 13 years fine-tuning our CMS together with hundreds of clients. The basic stuff in publishing is rather complicated and expensive. Our goal is to help editorial publishers gain core functionality quickly, enabling them to grow faster than their competitors. We call it beyond headless.

Jan Thoresen will be speaking at the Indian Magazine Congress. IMC is all set for a comeback as the flagship event of the Association of Indian Magazines. It is slated to be organised on March 24th at the Oberoi, New Delhi.

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