Is collaboration the way forward for media industry?

Competition Vs Collaboration. Experts discuss which will help both digital and traditional media produce best results

by Apeksha Mishra
Published - Aug 13, 2018 8:55 AM Updated: Aug 13, 2018 8:55 AM

Technology and widespread internet connectivity today is making it easier than ever before for people to work together irrespective of their locations. Much has been debated about the impact of digital in influencing the communication channels and thereby redefining the role of traditional media players, especially print. While there are some who argue that traditional media is becoming increasingly irrelevant, there are still many who see a possibility for both the platforms to co-exist without necessarily being in competition.

Discussing, at a recently held media festival, how collaboration fits into the scheme of affairs to make business successful, Karishma Bhalla, Partner & Director, BCG said, “While print is an industry with very unique stalwarts, digital is filling the void in a consumer’s life and that can’t be ignored. Consumers are accessing news several times a day across multiple devices. Global data says that around 62 per cent readers access news one-five times daily and 36 per cent readers use more than one device to access news.” 

According to a survey by BCG, the moment people connect, absolute media consumption goes up by 1.5 additional hours. These extra hours come from digital. The duopoly of Google and Facebook is more than 75 per cent of volume on an exchange. In such a case, consumers are not in need of print as much, said Bhalla.

She mentioned three collaboration models that are globally well known. First, where partners create content and share it; second, where partners work together to create content; and third, where partners share data at an organisational level. She also cited examples of collaboration models that could probably play out in India. Among them were Climate Desk collaboration, Electionland and Gannett’s USA Today Network collaboration.

What if institutions get together to create a joint database to make sure that they are more efficient and are able to deal with the duopoly of 75 per cent in an advertising market?

Discussing why marketers are enamoured by digital advertising, Mandeep Kohli, Principal, BCG India, focused on three unique factors that a digital platform provides. He said, “A digital medium focuses on solutions in approach, followed by return metrics and finally targeting audience. Combining all these factors, digital is helping to capture the moment of truth for its consumers.”

While data is just one part of digital, there are many other factors associated with this medium that benefit marketers, publishers and advertisers, Kohli said.

However, there are multiple problems associated with digital as well. The most prominent one being, how does one record data metric in order to monetise viewership.

Elaborating on the subject, Kohli said, “Today, it is beyond data. Nobody knows what the future is. Our prime duty today is to connect with the consumer and find out what is it that they need.”

Throwing light on few key success factors for developing a sustainable and rewarding collaboration, Bhalla said, “While a top management buy-in & involvement is much needed, an efficient ecosystem governance structure is mandatory. The need of the hour is for the industry to come together. Without a print campaign, Google cannot launch a new feature or phone. In an era where trust is at the lowest, trust & authenticity alone can make things work.”

Moderating the session was Bhaskar Das, Executive President, Dainik Bhaskar Group, who brought attention to the question: What if collaboration ends up being a compelling reality?

Reacting to this, Rajiv Verma, Advisor, HT Media, said, “The way I see it, the nature of print industry is such that most players either have a monopoly or are non-existent. Truth remains, monopoly is a big position to be in, followed by duopoly. Competition may not be a great solution as there’s little scope for creating value. Contrary to this, it might be good for shareholders but a customer loses in a situation like this. Competition certainly brings in a level of performance from all players, which makes consumers better off also benefiting the shareholder. The new form of competition is forcing all to re-look at the inefficiencies which will force companies to question their business models and engage in collaboration to some extent.”

Expressing his views, Pawan Agarwal, Deputy MD, Bhaskar Group, said, “Competition so far has helped print to thrive as it opened up the market. It was always about readership and not competition. New brands open up new customers. This helps existing companies improve their services. I believe competition has helped us expand our reach and get to the minds of the readers.”

Discussing a point where the industry will be more amenable to start collaboration, Verma narrated how channel reforms, a very basic form of collaboration, could get the ball rolling.

He said, “Consumers will be the ones to benefit if players plan to collaborate. The genesis of ‘One India’ collaboration was that if you are an advertiser and you have to buy three separate publications, it is always best to bring it together under one umbrella which makes it less frictionless. Collaboration is the need of the hour to let our industry live for many more years.”

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