Print stands as medium of reckoning in the digital era: B Srinivasan, Vikatan Group

With IRS numbers finally out, planners and media marketing heads are going to take Print more seriously than ever before, says B Srinivasan, Managing Director, Vikatan Group

Vikatan

The Indian Readership Survey (IRS) Q1 2019 data by Media Research Users Council (MRUC) has shown that dailies have added 1.8 crore additional readers since IRS 2017. The magazines in the country witnessed an addition of 90 lakh readers. The total number of Print readers in the country have touched 42.5 crore. 

Anand Vikatan - the Tamil language weekly magazine from Vikatan group  - is among the Top 20 magazines in the country and has added 7 lakh+ readers since IRS 2017. It has also bagged the top slot in Tamil language magazines. 

In a conversation with exchange4media, B Srinivasan, Managing Director, Vikatan Group spoke about the magazine’s growth, the role of print in this Digital era, projections for the next year and more. 

Excerpts: 

On the growth of Print 
It is clear that people are reading and there is no second opinion about it. The traditional media has served as a very good support system in the time of social media and digital era, where we have always stood for certain brand of content and quality of perspective. I believe people have come back to that and we are witnessing this over the past couple of years. We have definitely seen the Print medium getting reinforced as the medium of reliance. 

On Digital, everything is here and now. There is nothing which is pervasive or persuasive in digital. People are realising the unfortunate reality that the social media ecosystem is built to devour your fears and monetise on your anger. Even while people are scrolling through those pages, for a sense of reliability and clarity they are falling for Print. The Print medium has been written off for many decades. At every stage, be it with the entry of Radio, Television or Digital, Print has been written off. I believe as a medium we will continue to survive and will continue to do our best. 

Print stands as the medium of reckoning in the digital era. Digital is what we called the lightning strike; Print serves as the hotbed for clarity. We are the medium of reckoning and medium to which you can always come home to. 

On Anand Vikatan’s performance in IRS 2019
We been silently doing lot of things which we generally don’t boast about. Anand Vikatan had a weekly serialised novel named ‘Velpari’ written by Sahitya Academy winner Su Venkatesan. It constitutes 10-12 pages an average week and was in print during October 2016- December 2018. I don’t think in recent history there has been a serialised novel which consistently fed the readers delight week on week. When we had 100th week celebration of the novel, we ran a contest in our magazine on social media pages asking anyone who has been reading ‘Velpari’ to provide their response to the novel in 100 seconds. We received a response of 5,000 videos within 2 weeks and from across the world. The readers who responded included a 5-year-old-girl and a 93-year-old woman. We have been attempting to do what we are best at in connecting and engaging our reading audiences and giving them reasons to come back to our magazine every week. 

We never got that viral reach which our digital platforms receive. There has been a silent and pertinent growth across our print magazines. 

On Advertisement growth 

According to Nielsen, Print magazine advertising in Tamil Nadu  last year has de-grown by 27 per cent. I can tell you that last year we have grown. We have taken a completely different route and it has been the route of ‘selling solutions’. We have not been selling pages, we have been selling solutions.  As part of that we sell print, digital, social, events and activation and that has worked very well for us. That has also been a reason why we have been able to beat the negative growth of print and been able to grow positively. 
    
Projections for next year 
As far as the readership is concerned, we are not making any projections. I believe we are doing our job sincerely and whatever results we get at the end is the net result of all the hard work the team puts in. We are focusing more on the audience. Last year, we increased all our magazines cover price by Rs 5. We have seen absolutely no resistance from our readers. I believe we have continued to deliver what readers are expecting from us. Our job is to make sure to deliver a product which doesn’t feel like a burden to the readers. 

I think we are going to go ahead and really double down on what we have been doing well.

This year, we have given ourselves a target of 50 per cent growth, I think it is quite a tall order, but I believe we are going to get closer to it. April has been a good month for us, and May looks even better. 

I believe with the IRS numbers out finally the planners and the media marketing heads are going to take print more seriously than ever before. From an all-India perspective, I can say that the readers who believed in their print brands and perspective driven content have won. 

IRS 2019 Q1 has reflected the growth and continued efficacy of the Print. 
 

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