Magazines should stop selling ads & sell engagement: CVL Srinivas

Though magazines are high on trust factor, revenues have been flat; a change of mindset is required to turn this around, says the CEO, S Asia, GroupM

e4m by Synjini Nandi
Published: Feb 18, 2013 2:09 AM  | 3 min read
Magazines should stop selling ads & sell engagement: CVL Srinivas

Today, magazines provide consumers with highest engagement quotient, but it has still not been able to command revenues at par. So, what is holding it back and how do we overcome this challenge, remains the question at large.

CVL Srinivas, CEO, South Asia, GroupM stated, “Though magazines are scored highest in the trust factor, our studies show that the revenues have been flat. Digital is number three in India while magazines are on number six. So the question is how do we leverage this medium?”

According to Srinivas, this requires a change of mindset. He explained that magazines should stop selling ads and start selling engagement. It should get repositioned as an engagement medium. The second thing that needs to be focussed on is the increase in more relevant or category specific research, which would give an idea as to how to capture audiences.

"Thirdly, what we also need to do is to leverage magazines through social media platforms and create a buzz. The growth area is to move from passive to active communities,” he added.

Elaborating on the topic further, Ambika Srivastava, Chairperson, ZenithOptimedia and Vivaki Exchange said that the way forward is to develop a new currency or a certain brand experience. Since the role of recognition and advocacy is very big, developing right set of touch-points is necessary for generating RoI.

Sirivastava further added, “Readers buy magazines because they clearly value content. It is this metrics that we can convert into currency and help drive revenues. If we can develop a metric with content being the key, we can sell much better. Furthermore, we should also look to moving from passive selling to dynamic engagement.”

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman India and CEO South East Asia, Aegis Group plc stated that there are five key observations which would help convey a clearer picture. The first point is the significance of playing according to one’s strenthgs. The second point that Bhasin highlighted was the fact that innovations started with magazines, and this along with engagement would change the entire dynamics.

He further said, "Magazine is one such medium that needs to work in partnership with different distribution patterns. Hence, a whole new ecosysytem of partnerships can change the entire scenario. Also, one needs competition as well as collaborators, and this needs to be introspected upon. The last but not the least is the importance to play to a strategy.”

Media should be bought keeping in mind the output that it can generate for brands. Magazines need to get experimental in order to gain more in future, said Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison World.

CVL Srinivas, Ambika Sirivastava, Ashish Bhasin, Sam Balsara were speaking during the session on ‘RoI from magazine media’ at the Indian Magazine Congress, held in Mumbai on February 14 and 15, 2013. Tarun Rai, CEO, Worldwide Media moderated the session.

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