Increasing spread of fake news on social networks will strengthen print: Shreyams Kumar, Mathrubhumi

Reliable journalism and trusted news source represents a business opportunity. Public worry over the increasing spread of fake news in social networks will strengthen the print medium in the coming days, believes Shreyams Kumar, Joint MD of Mathrubhumi

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Nov 16, 2017 9:56 AM

Much has been written about the grim future of print in the wake of digital readership. While this is true of the western world, the Indian story is altogether different.
Thanks to the growing vernacular readership, the print growth story is here to stay, at least for the next few years, if not more. Speaking about how vernacular is driving growth when compared to national media, Shreyams Kumar, Joint Managing Director of Mathrubhumi, says, “In vernacular media, the ratio between Ad Revenue and Reader Revenue (Circulation) has always been healthy unlike in the National media, where the Circulation Revenue was almost miniscule when compared to Ad Revenue.”

Kumar also argues that digital has not been able to catch up with the robust distribution of vernacular. In his view, as the traditional forms of advertising are cash heavy, brands and advertisers were initially pushed towards the digital advertisement platform. He says, “Advertisers are increasing their spends on digital advertising, but the quantum of gain in digital does not offset or match the loss in Print Ad volume. This is true for both national and vernacular print.”

“Vernacular Print Ad grows at a moderate of 3-5%, whereas digital revenue is at a low volume, but shows significant growth, up by even 25%.  However, as already mentioned, this increase is not keeping pace with the print advertising decline. The lion’s share of digital advertising growth goes to Facebook and Google, who aggregate the largest audiences and capture most of the digital ad revenue," he added.

However, Kumar is also quick to underline what ails digital media. According to him, the spread of fake news through social media and partisan people pushing their agenda, sometimes based on misinformation, directly through social media, is troubling the digital medium. “Reliable journalism and trusted news source represents a business opportunity. Public worry over the increasing spread of fake news on social networks will strengthen print in the coming days,” says Kumar.

Terming demonetisation as the move that is set to work in favour of digital advertising, Kumar says that  there was an immediate drop in advertising spends in the aftermath of demonetisation, primarily due to the uncertainties and because brands had adopted a wait and watch approach. “But this seems to be fading for good and there has been an upward trend in spending. This would continue to benefit digital advertising going forward, especially because there has been a definitive change in consumer habits for using digital mode of payments," he says.

“Brands are spending more to acquire and transact with users through the digital medium. Specific industries like e-commerce and financial investment companies are the immediate beneficiaries. Digital payments are only going to further acquire more new users and in turn push brands to have better reach and more spends in Digital," Kumar signs off.

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