Magazine publishers-owned 'Engagement Study' - will it click with advertisers?

The Association of Indian Magazine (AIM) recently announced its decision to launch an 'Engagement Study' that would bridge the gap ailing the current measurement system, particularly for magazine readership. Will advertisers and media agencies buy into this initiative? exchange4media finds out...

e4m by Akash Raha
Published: Oct 26, 2010 8:36 AM  | 3 min read
Magazine publishers-owned 'Engagement Study' - will it click with advertisers?

Measurement has been an eminent problem in the print industry, especially in the magazine domain. Magazine publishers have questioned the efficacy of Indian Readership Survey (IRS) methodology, and have been on the lookout for alternate solutions to be able to bridge the measurement gap of the current system.

Many define magazine as an “engaging” medium. Hence, in the recently held Indian Magazine Congress (IMC 2010), the President of Association of Indian Magazine (AIM), Pradeep Gupta, announced that an ‘engagement study’ would be conducted to measure the engagement level of magazines. AIM plans for the research to be conducted by a research agency. How are media planners and buyers looking at this initiative?

Jyoti Kumar Bansal, Head, New Business Development, OMD India, said on this issue, “The premise that magazines are an engaging medium exists internationally. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what kind of data it reveals in India. It will probably help to take magazines away from a pure cost and reach comparison exercise, into a more qualitative evaluation mode, which will be beneficial for the medium. It would be interesting to see what audiences look for in a magazine, and what they find most relevant and interesting, because then only can it add value to advertisers.”

Speaking further on ‘engagement’, Vidhu Sagar, Senior Vice President, Carat Media India, said, “Principally, magazines have been used to great effect to reach segmented niche audiences, particularly in special interest areas. Magazines are used in a media plan because they are linked to the quality of audience and the messaging. So, if magazine marketers are proposing an engagement-linked metric, they are only connecting relevant dots in their domain and are justified in doing so. However, the fact remains that magazines is a shrinking market and it may take more than an engagement quotient to sell magazines to advertisers. The study must come up with a wholesome index that is conceptually delivering on both the quantitative as well as the qualitative/softer values.”

According to Dinesh Vyas, Head MEC, Team Reliance, “All studies that test engagement will be perception based. It will be different from one person to another and generalising it could prove harmful. Magazine players have raised several questions over the efficacy of IRS survey, however IRS is the only currency that media agencies will rely upon for a long time to come. Engagement study is not likely to work as it will be subjective and perception based. According to me the study won’t survive.”
Speaking about the expectations of advertisers on this, he said “An involvement metric such as time-spent is a basic deliverable. Beyond that, aspects relating to cognitive and behavioural values, should add relevance. How effective are the ad messages and how they impact brand recall and response rates, are some other areas that should give advertisers something new to chew on.”

When asked whether this could delay the already held-up IRS-NRS merger, Vyas added, “The Engagement study is just for one part of the media community whereas IRS/NRS are meant for the larger group. In any case, the reasons for delay of IRS-NRS merger are hard to understand. So, it’s for the benefit of the involved parties to expedite the execution and deliver on the promise.”

Even as several engagement based studies are successfully conducted abroad, the Indian planners do not look too keen to reply upon it yet. They are still circumspect as to what the engagement study is going to be and what methodology it is going to follow.


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Magazine players to lead media biz in coming years: Dr Annurag Batra  

At Indian Magazine Congress 2023, the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Business World &  exchange4media, spoke on how scale, depth, and market enablement were key for developing the magazine businesses

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 27, 2023 9:20 AM   |   3 min read

Indian Magazine Congress 2023

The Indian Magazine Congress 2023 saw several leaders from across the magazine and media industry come together to share insights on how the magazine business had tremendously evolved over the years and what are the new paradigms for magazine publishing. They also discussed re-imagining the corporate structure for nurturing multiple magazine communities and how magazines could participate in enhancing brands’ engagement with their communities.

Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Business World, and exchange4media, spoke on how the magazine business in India has metamorphosed into futuristic multimedia platforms. He began by defining the purpose of doing a magazine business which predominantly revolves around three words: Content, Community and Commerce. He mentioned how the pie expands when each player in the market grows, either individually or collaboratively. 

Sharing more insights on how exchange4media instinctively built the B2B marketplace for the media industry in the last two decades, Dr Batra mentioned how they all began with the focus being on content, which is the glue for commerce, to build their own media platform.

Unequivocally, the media platform which is a significant player in the marketing, advertising, and media communication community, stands out in the clutter of the market for its high credibility content and audience base. Moreover, he said, “exchange4media is a home page for everyone who matters in the marketing and advertising industry. We provide diversified content on everything happening in the B2B space. Also, the four major pillars of our business are: e4m daily, Pitch is our monthly magazine, Impact is a weekly magazine and fourteen years back we started a website on business media in Hindi, Samachar.” Further enunciating the events, he mentioned that exchange4media has organized more than 72 events and sixty AIPs zoned by the company including twelve in partnership.” In addition, the business world has built twenty-seven communities with the hotel community topping the list, in the last forty-three years. Also, BW is planning to add twelve to fourteen new magazines along with adding a Subscription based model with other investments in the coming years. 

Furthermore, briefing how magazine businesses in India have metamorphosed into futuristic multimedia platforms, Dr. Batra shared how BW and exchange4media have expanded their horizons and explored beyond Print, Events, and Research. The OTT and video are the next bars the company is planning to set in the coming years. “We are in the business of brand and content and how to define our business in a way that profitability follows, could be better exemplified with India Today which started as a magazine company and later entered into the broadcast. This shows that in the coming years, the top media players would be those who have started with the magazine business.”

In addition, he mentioned that scale, understanding the market depth and market enablement are the major pointers to focus on, to expand the business. In the concluding remarks, Dr. Batra mentioned all the major dos the business must follow for overall business growth and the list includes: Content, insights, connectivity and enabling business, advertising, sponsorships, and subscription models. 

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Magazines need to maintain depth of content to stay relevant: Anant Nath

Nath, Executive Publisher of Delhi Press, and Vice President of Association of Indian Magazines was speaking at the recent edition of Indian Magazine Congress in New Delhi

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 27, 2023 8:36 AM   |   5 min read

Indian Magazine Congress

The flagship event of the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), representing magazines in the country –Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) – was organized on March 24.

During the program held at The Oberoi Hotel, Delhi, Anant Nath, Executive Publisher of Delhi Press and Vice President of AIM, spoke to e4m on all the major issues related to the magazine business.


This edition of IMC is coming back after a gap of four years. What are the big highlights of this edition?

We have been doing this for the last 12 years. The main point of any such event is to discuss the new changes taking place in that industry and share your experiences. Of course, there is also networking involved. Many new things are known from the outside people.

The event was started in the year 2006 to bring all the people associated with the magazine publishing industry on one platform, which includes editors, publishers, digital heads of media organizations, policymakers, owners of media organizations, marketers, media planners as well as researchers And industry analysts are involved. This is the 12th edition of this event.

However, due to Covid, the association is organizing the event after a gap of four years. The theme of this year's Congress is how magazines are the most effective medium for building engaged communities even in the digital age. With regard to the 'Indian Magazine Congress', our focus has been to think about the place of magazines in the digital world.

Today digital is moving very fast. In such times, what challenges/problems are being faced by the magazines to maintain relevance, and what steps are being taken in this direction?

People buy magazines for the content, which means that the content involves a lot of research and depth. The content of any good magazine is prepared after a rigorous editorial process. The magazine's content is geared towards a large and niche readership, whose interests the editorial team understands well and tries to incorporate in its content. Through this content, the editorial team plays a great utility in the lives of that readership, be it in the form of problem-solving in any topic (entertainment, information or lifestyle etc.) or in any other form.

I would like to say that to stay relevant in today's era, magazines have to focus on the content and work in that direction by understanding the interest of the readers. Undoubtedly, since the advent of digital, the competition for content has increased a lot. In such a situation, to remain relevant in today's era, magazines need to maintain the depth of the content to stay relevant.

Apart from the content, the tools of digital media/social media will also have to be adopted to serve it. As earlier newspaper and magazine publishers had to invest in printing and distribution, now that investment has shifted to CMS, SEO, social media promotion etc. But, I would say again that the focus has to be more on the content and it is important for the editorial team to understand who their readership is and what kind of content they want.

Covid had an adverse effect on all businesses including the media. During that time many magazines were closed and circulation of all magazines decreased. Now that the situation has become normal, how is the magazine business doing overall?

I would say that the circulation of the magazine business is slowly coming back on track. It would be wrong to say that the magazine industry is back to pre-Covid status. However, the industry has recovered a lot from the gap that came after covid. With the advent of digital, it has been beneficial that during covid many magazines have made their own websites. Due to this, the reach of magazines readers has increased a lot.

Magazines have the option of how to convert that reach into paid subscribers. Today, magazines are being digitized to make their information available to readers as much as possible. That is, all the magazine publishers have prepared print and digital packages and are trying to make up for the reduced revenue or circulation through the subscription model. I believe magazines should focus on how to create the right package of print and digital. Use digital to increase your reach, engagement and new readers, while keeping the content great enough to convert new readers into paid subscribers. Among these, those who like magazines very much, can include them in both print and digital paid readership.

How can Indian magazines do better from here on?

I feel that if the editorial team of a magazine can engage as many readers as possible through its content, then there is a lot of potential ahead. We have to do many things like - technology, marketing, social media and events etc. That is, we have to do all kinds of things and focus on how we can connect more and more readers with us, how to keep them with us and what kind of content should be created that the readers’ value. If that is not done right then all the other things are pointless.

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Abhay Chhajlani of Nai Dunia is no more

Chhajlani was a three-time president of ILNA, the apex organization of Indian language newspapers

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 10:17 AM   |   1 min read


Indore’s noted journalist and Padma Shri winner Abhay Chhajlani is no more. 

Chhajlani was born on 4th August 1934 in Indore. He entered the field of journalism in 1955. In 1963, he took over as the executive editor and later remained the editor-in-chief of NaiDunia for a long time. In the year 1965, he graduated from Thomson Foundation, Cardiff (UK), the world's premier Institute of Journalism. He was the first journalist to be selected for this training from the field of Hindi journalism. 

Chhajlani had prominently raised many major issues of the city. Along with this, he was also associated with sports. He was the President of Madhya Pradesh Table Tennis Association for a long time and then remained on the post of President for life.

Lately, apart from serving as the chairman of the editorial board of NaiDunia, he was also carrying out many important social responsibilities. Abhay Chhajlani was a three-time president of ILNA, the apex organization of Indian language newspapers. He was the president of the organization in 1988, 1989 and 1994. He was also the Vice President of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in 2000 and President in 2002. 

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Veteran journalist Bipin Kumar Shah passes away

He was associated with Gujarati daily ‘Sandesh’ for around 50 years

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 22, 2023 12:53 PM   |   1 min read

Bipin Shah

Veteran journalist Bipin Kumar Shah passed away on Tuesday night after a brief illness. The 83-year-old was working in the Gujarati daily ‘Sandesh’ for around 50 years.

State BJP president C R Paatil expressed grief over Bipinbhai’s death and said that he was an institution who groomed many young journalists.

His columns titled ‘Shaher ni Sargam’ and ‘Vidhan Sabha na Dware’ were very popular among readers. He was doyen of reporting on Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation affairs and covered it for the last 50 years. It is said that he knew more about AMC than even the Mayor and other officials. Senior journalists in the city said an era has ended with Bipinbhai’s passing.

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Mandeep Singh joins Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd as Vice President - Response

Prior to this, he was the Country Manager and COO of B4U Network

By Ruhail Amin | Mar 15, 2023 6:57 PM   |   1 min read


B4U Network’s former Country Manager and COO Mandeep Singh has joined Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd as Vice President - Response. Singh confirmed the development to e4m.

Before joining the Bollywood based television network, he was the CEO and founder of Billbergia, a premium plant-based and ultra-natural personal care & grooming brand. He posted about this job on his LinkedIn profile and will be based out of Mumbai.

Previously, he has served stints with The Walt Disney Company for more than 6 years each as Executive Director & Network Head - India Media Networks and Director and Cluster Revenue Head respectively.

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What really is a magazine?

Guest Column: Anant Nath, Executive Publisher at Delhi Press, shares what remains so unique about the magazine form in the digital age

By Anant Nath | Mar 15, 2023 6:00 PM   |   6 min read

anant nath

Magazine publishing is in an existential crisis!

At least that’s what the world would have us publishers believe.

After all, we are now operating in a world where magazines are trying to find relevance between content produced by hordes of influencers and subject matter experts for the digital world, what used to be the exclusive domain of magazines, whose editors were supposed to be the ultimate arbiters of tastes and opinion in their field of interest.

That’s no longer the case for sure.

In the words of David Abrahamson, professor emeritus of journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill school of journalism, “the volatility of the technological environment presents a huge challenge for both the producer and consumer because it distorts, even violates, the implicit magazine-reader social contract.”

The erstwhile reader is now a creator. So what happens to the magazine now?

And equally important, when almost all magazines are laying emphasis on expanding their digital avatar, co-existing with the those countless other digital creators, what really is a magazine anymore?

Wasn’t a magazine supposed to be simply a bound volume of pages, with articles, stories, photographs and illustrations, produced and delivered with a certain degree of periodicity?

Now in the digital age, what remains so unique about the magazine form?

While these may seem deeply ominous and existential questions, the answer to them is fairly obvious and straightforward.

For magazine is not something to be perceived in a strictly physical sense, or for that matter simply on the basis of its expert content. That would be at best a superficial understanding of the medium.

A magazine is much more than that.

Victor Navasky, long-time editor of the Nation and the much revered Professor at Columbia Journalism School, once wrote that magazines are “an art form, not just a delivery method.”

For someone who has been raised and lived in the world of magazines, this sounds like a truism. Magazines are an ‘art form’ that inform, inspire, and enriches their readers lives, they are a produced by people who readers trust, they are often a manifestation of a certain passion- of creators and readers alike, they are designed for an experience, and often consumed, shared and talked about between readers, who all think of themselves as linked together through some subliminal bond.

In the words of media scholars Tim Holmes and Jane Bentley, “one important aspect of magazines can be seen - they provide a locus around which communities can be constructed”.

Holmes, along with another scholar Liz Nice, in their book Magazine Journalism (2012), separate the physical form of magazine from its cultural purpose.

They explain that magazines, by their intrinsic nature: 

  1. always target a precisely defined group of readers;
  2. base their content on the expressed and perceived needs, desires, hopes and fears of that defined group;
  3. develop a bond of trust with their readerships;
  4. foster community-like interactions between themselves and their readers, and among readers;
  5. respond quickly and flexibly to changes in readership and changes in the wider society as a whole.

Even the slightest bit of reflection on our own experiences with our favourite magazines, will prove all the above points axiomatic. And more so in case of specialist magazines, with a well defined niche. Readers of magazines often develop a sense of attachment to brands when they perceive them as reinforcing their identity. And attachment to a magazine brand often leads to “imagined communities”, whereby readers think of themselves as belonging to a collective group of readers, all of whom share a similar passion and interest.

The great theorist of nationalism, Benedict Anderson articulated the concept of “nation as an imagined community”, a socially constructed entity, created collectively by those individuals who perceive themselves to be part of a particular group. Although Anderson used the concept to explain nationalism, it also can be applied to the communities that develop around magazines, not least because the readers of any given magazine are unlikely to know personally or encounter physically the majority of their fellow readers.

From a few thousands to tens of millions, from microscopically niche to expansively broad based audiences, magazines build and engage with thousands of communities and social groups. This sensitivity to attitudes and interests results in greater trust and credibility and respect for magazines. 

So what does this mean for the future of magazines?

In the digital age, marred by information overload and cluttered digital spaces, the need for highly engaged and involved communities is becoming ever more important, as users feel the urge to break away from the clutter of social media lead content deluge, and find solace and comfort in spaces that align with their interests and with like-minded peers.

Magazine brands are uniquely poised to nurture such engaged communities:

If anything, the digital world lends even more deeply towards magazines’ ability to nurture deeply engaged communities:

  • Digital space can allow magazines brands greater leverage to create content that encourages sharing within these ‘imagined communities’.
  • The magazine space in the digital world, can be the one that cuts through the clutter, and allow readers that comfort of being amongst like-minded peers.
  • A shift from editor to curator. Magazines can make readers their stars by making them contributors. Community itself can become a mode of distribution through sharing.
  • Most importantly, magazines need to keep their focus on being useful. Create content that serves the needs of the community wherever they are and whatever they are doing.
  • And finally, these communities can now transcend geographical barriers, and can truly be global.

The true essence of magazine in the digital world, can best be summed up in a line written by

Professor Samir Husni of the University of Mississippi, popularly known as Mr. Magazine, who wrote as far back in 2010, “Magazines are not just content providers, they are experience makers”.

Needless to say, it is up to the publishers and the magazine editorial teams to traverse this journey, from print only to a hybrid between print, digital, and various other “experiences”, all with a focus of nurturing deeply involved reader communities.

So, in a country of 1.3 billion people, and potentially millions of communities, what will it take for magazine brands to truly harness the information and entertainment needs of those diverse communities, across print and digital formats and through events and other formats of community building, and making rich experiences for their readers.

From greater understanding of reader identities, their behavioural attitudes, their information needs, to content curation and keeping pace with technology and digital eco-system advances, the Indian Magazine Congress 2023 will delve with this quest of magazine publishers to truly leverage the great strength of magazine brands to nurture a million communities in this diverse country.

Nath 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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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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