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India B2B Media Summit 2010: Internet medium will see fragmentation in time to come: Ajit Balakrishnan

23-February-2010
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India B2B Media Summit 2010: Internet medium will see fragmentation in time to come: Ajit Balakrishnan

The B2B (Business to Business) market in India is still very nascent, but, has come a long way compared to what it was a few years ago. With increasing fragmentation in the market, there is a realisation among both advertisers and agencies about the importance of targeting niche audience. The future evolution of B2B companies, however, involves moving beyond traditional modes of operation. These were some of the key points at the India B2B Media Summit 2010, held in Mumbai on February 22.

The Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), in association with Pressmart and exchange4media Group, had organised the event. The theme of this Summit was ‘Building Communities Digitally’. The day-long event was co-sponsored by Indian Infrastructure, 9.9 Media, CyberMedia, Images Group, Spenta Multimedia, while media partner was Business Standard.

The India B2B Media Summit kick-started with keynote speaker Ajit Balakrishnan, Chairman and CEO, Rediff.com’s address, where he highlighted the necessity of broadband penetration in India, which was abysmally low. He also highlighted the importance of mobile, stating that whatever communication strategy one took, it must include a mobile strategy.

Balakrishnan explained, “Our industry architecture is undergoing a mega change. The problem that India is facing today is low broadband penetration, countries like the US and China have more broadband users. However, broadband penetration in India is slated to see huge growth in future. I believe the Internet medium is no different than other mediums, but this medium will see fragmentation in time to come and new models will emerge. These are still early days for the Internet and the game is still open, wherein anyone can enter and change it.”

The second keynote speaker of the event was Rajesh Jain, Executive Director, Advisory Services, National Industry Director - Information, communication and Entertainment, KPMG India. He threw light on the state of print media sector in India, the advertising trends in 2008 and 2009 and the global scenario of the B2B sector and how to add value to the brand through this space.

“Among the trends in the print media sector, some large players in the print sector had seen de-growth, which picked up a few months back. Advertising is the main source of revenue in the Rs 1,300 crore magazine industry, of which the subscription pie is the biggest. The news print price, however, helped many publishing companies protect their margins. B2B publications contribute a significant part to the magazine industry in developed countries, with 15-18 per cent revenue coming from B2B,” Jain pointed out.

He further said, “I believe that digital technology can compliment traditional media delivery vehicles. The future evolution of B2B involves moving beyond traditional modes of operations. This apart, creating new revenue streams are integral to B2B media companies in digital media.”

Effectiveness of the B2B domain

The first panel discussion of the day was on the ‘Effectiveness of B2B domain’. The panelists included Alok Brara, Founder and CEO, Indian Infrastructure; Nagraj V Rao, Brand System Leader - India, South Asia, Marketing and Communication, IBM India; and Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and MD, 9.9 Media. The session was moderated by Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group.

Commencing the session, Pramath Raj Sinha said, “I am bullish about B2B space in India, both our advertisers and agencies are beginning to steadily understand the value of targeting niche audience. More and more people are turning to specialised content, they are looking at more and more targeted content. The problem is that we are still not working as an industry and the issues we are facing have no perspective, we need to focus on the issue of quality of content, quality of design, quality of data base to go a notch above.”

According to Nagraj V Rao, “There is a whole lot of fragmentation happening in the B2B sector, the key ways to engage audience, I believe, is through involvement, intimacy and influence. This apart, I believe measurement does post a challenge for this sector, however, it is not just numbers that is important, but the quality as well.”

Alok Brara explained, “We do not have credible research. We need to start focusing on the editorial environment and its integrity, which is very important, rather than focus on clients and audience alone. If we go too much after the advertisers, we will lose the deal. We have to raise our net rates, otherwise we won’t get into profit, and also find ways to depend less on advertising.”

Summing up the session, Anurag Batra said, “We need to do a lot as a collective group to raise the bar, and it is all about the quality and the level of engagement. However, these are still early days for B2B and the best is yet to come.”

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