IRS 2017 has tried to address all the concerns raised last time: Rishi Darda, Lokmat

Speaking with exchange4media, Rishi Darda, Joint Managing Director and Editorial, Lokmat Media Group shared his vision for regional publications and the impact of IRS 2017 on the print industry.

e4m by Nishant Saxena
Updated: Jan 23, 2018 8:56 AM

The Indian Readership Survey 2017, released last week, has boosted Indian print industry’s confidence even further after reflecting a positive growth for the space. The industry has not only depicted its relevance but also narrated a story of growth and revealed how regional media is gaining more and more importance.Speaking with exchange4media, Rishi Darda, Joint Managing Director and Editorial, Lokmat Media Group shared his vision for regional publications and the impact of IRS 2017 on the print industry. 

Darda pointed out that with the IRS 2017 results, all misleading claims by competition around selective usage of data will be put to rest. "As a group, Lokmat Group’s newspaper (Marathi, Hindi and English variants) readership (AIR) is up by 143% over the nearest competitor in Maharashtra,” he said. As per IRS figures, Lokmat has emerged as the No 1 Marathi daily with a total of over 1.80cr readers Pan Maharashtra and even in Pune district it has secured top position with a readership of 30.45 lakhs," he shared.


What does IRS 2017 mean for publications in regional languages? How do you think it is going to influence the industry in general and the ad revenue in particular?

The IRS 2017 is a very positive story for print industry with overall 40% growth in print. The fact that not even one English daily is in top 10 in the country as per Total Readership (TR) and Average Issue readership says a lot and shows that regional print is here to stay and reap better revenues going ahead. In earlier surveys by IRS, there was no TR data and hence, it is difficult for us to talk about a TR growth. However IRS 2017 talked about a 0.65% growth in AIR. In our case, as a group publication, including our Marathi, Hindi and English variants, we are up by 16.3% on AIR when industry has been almost flat and especially in markets like Pune we are up by 65% basis AIR IRS 2017. It is largely as a result of grassroots connect with consumers who want information in their language and Lokmat has scored very well here at a national level. 

What do you think is the way ahead for regional print publications? 

As India urbanizes, we can see regional print display a phenomenal growth in urban and city landscapes which were earlier the domain of English press. Rural continues to be strong for regional print and that is why you see that none of the English dailies feature in the top 10 dailies of the country. So we expect this trend to continue for regional in the future as well.

Lokmat is the leading publication in Marathi as per IRS 2017. What strategy do you think has worked in Lokmat’s favour in achieving this position?

Lokmat has a strong connect with its readers that bring out the issues and concerns across all markets in Maharashtra. It has been consistently focusing strategically towards building a connect with all age groups and segments of the society. With its initiatives as Sanskarache Moti that touch the lives of over 30 lac students across schools in Maharashtra by laying the foundation towards inculcating good habits for a better future. Lokmat’s Sakhi Manch is perhaps the largest women empowerment forum with over 3.5 lakh members across urban and rural Maharashtra. 
We educate, entertain and empower our Sakhis to take on challenges of today. Our intellectual property Lokmat Maharashtrian of the Year gives an impetus to identify and recognise lesser- known individuals for their exemplary work across various areas in creating Brand Maharashtra. From Sarpanch to Parliamentarians, we have made a difference in the lives of our readers and opinion makers. Recently we launched our Marathi edition in Delhi on the occasion of our Centenary year.

How confident are you about the methodology used this time for the survey? Any scope of improvement you expect in next surveys?

This IRS 2017 has tried to address all the concerns raised last time and I must say it seems much more robust with more checks in place. This will be an important tool for marketers and media houses to create their strategy ahead. IRS 2017 also brings on the table a comparison with other mediums as TV with AIR basis three days, seven days and last month readership statistics. This will, thus, bring an element of ROI in print and TV spends for planners and clients. Next fiscal would be a testimony to that.

Do you think these figures (readership data) directly or indirectly affect in influencing readers’ choices in picking up a particular publication?

IRS or readership surveys are for usage by industry or planners for their advertisers to invest. Readers are not impacted by IRS data as they make their choice on the basis of the content that is relevant for them. IRS is a report card for us on our product and whether what we are doing finally is relevant to our readers who are at the core of all our existence.

What would be your expert advice to other publishers of regional language publications?

Let us continue to focus on reader-relevant content and be their voice.

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