IRS 2017: The age of the discerning media consumer has returned: Aroon Purie

To get a better insight on how the IRS 2017 figures will influence the industry and what it means for the future of magazines in India, Exchange4media reached out to Aroon Purie, Chairman and Editor in Chief, India Today Group

e4m by Nishant Saxena
Updated: Jan 24, 2018 8:55 AM

The revealing Indian Readership Survey 2017 (IRS 2017) seems to have given the print industry, especially magazine publishers a strong hope of brighter future. Going against the world trends Indian Magazine industry has shown a 75% growth in readership since last four years.

To get a better insight on how the IRS 2017 figures will influence the industry and what it means for the future of magazines in India, Exchange4media reached out to Aroon Purie, Chairman, and Editor in Chief, India Today Group. Here are the exceprts.

1. What does IRS 2017 mean for magazine publishers? How do you think it is going to influence the industry in general and ad revenue in particular?

IRS is the most significant survey for the print industry. It highlights the fact that magazines have assumed a critical role in consumers life, far more relevant in current times than ever before. They bring clarity amidst information chaos and credibility deficit. It validates what we’ve always got from anecdotal evidence. A vast sample size of 3.2 lakhs, passed through tight scrutiny is definitely going to have a tremendous, positive influence on the magazine publishers. It helps them index high value curated content against other mass media platforms and helps reinstate the magazines as the preferred medium for the discerning reader.

It definitely aids the Ad revenue as it does the general perception because now we have data to support it. And editorially it reinforces in us, the conviction, that good content always works. Advertisers value credible media vehicles and I’m sure with new numbers, magazines will find their way back to the top of their mindspace. IRS 2017 has thrown phenomenal results for India Today English with the readership exceeding all business papers and almost all English dailies. With such significant reach and efficient rates, India Today offers the best ROI for any advertiser and continues to be a reach medium (and not just a frequency medium). I think no advertiser would like to miss on this significant reach that India Today assures.

2. With 75% growth in readership despite competing with digital do you think it is still fair to say that ‘Magazine’ is a departing medium? Where do you see magazines' journey from here onward?

Industry is witnessing extraordinary phase and publications are still growing in this digital revolution in India.75% growth in readership just shows that there is still a considerable amount of readership that value credible distilled content. The age of the discerning media consumer has returned. The journey for magazines should go onwards from here to consolidate loyalty with the 'Thinking Indian'. While migration from print to digital is consistent, Magazines have proven the pessimists wrong. They have been able to and are arguably much better than others- to complement the digital wave rather than just compete. More clarity to the consumer is the power of the magazine segment.

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

I understand this survey as a generational leap of sorts with enhanced security measures at all levels, enhanced samples, constant monitoring, minimum interventional exposure and scope for manipulation etc. The sample size of over 3.2 lakhs (up from 2.35 lacs) also makes this study robust & biggest worldwide whilst providing Total Readership as a new indicator.

Even though IRS encountered challenges after challenges, it did weather the storm which eventually paved the way for a more future-ready study.

4. India Today magazines (English as well as Hindi) have highest readership figures. What strategy do you think worked in India Today’s favour in achieving this position?

We took the bold decision to redesign and to contemporize the magazine. India Today English stands for serious journalism delivered in a clear manner. The rigorous commitment to distill information and to provide clarity on every subject helped the magazine redefine the leadership margin. With 24 hours news channels and the digital Tsunami of information, and some of it fake, there is a need for a publication to give clarity context and perspective. It is that is the role of a magazine like India Today. And that is the reason the future of India Today is bright. It is the reason why India Today English and Hindi are the biggest news brand of the country.

5. What would be your expert advice to other magazine publishers?
Every magazine should figure out their core values and USPs and further all their efforts and endeavors towards delivering the best in their space. Regularly revisit the content strategy and stay true to their journalistic approach and upgrading their standards by constant cross-media bench-marking. Look at alternative revenue streams like events, e Commerce, newsletters , membership of clubs etc.

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