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A lot of FMCG brands are coming back to Print: Varghese Chandy

Malayala Manorama has once again topped the Malayalam dailies in readership as per the IRS 2019 Q1 data. On Total Readership (TR) basis, Malayala Manorama garnered 17,477,000, compared to 15,999,000 in IRS 2017 and was placed 7th among the Top 20 dailies in India [(12+ Years); Urban+Rural]. The daily secured Average Issue Readership (AIR) of 9,758,000 in IRS 2019 Q1, as against 9,383,000 in IRS 2017 and was placed 4th among the Top 20 dailies in India. 

In conversation with Adgully, Varghese Chandy, VP-Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama, speaks about the Malayalam daily's readership numbers, growth in the Print industry, operating in a digital era and more.  

How do you view Malayala Manorama’s performance as per the IRS 2019 Q1 report?
Malayala Manorama continues to be the No. 1 regional language newspaper in the country when you rank by Average Issue Readership (AIR). Our Total Readership is a massive 1.75 crore. Malayala Manorama is No. 1 across all the four socio-cultural regions in Kerala. Our lead over the No. 2 newspaper in Kerala has gone up to 45 lakh. 

Do you think there is an issue with AIR v/s TR?
AIR is the currency for media planning. We have an AIR of 9,758,000. On the other hand, TR is the accumulated monthly readership. In our case, it is 1.75 crore. 

AIR/TR indicate the loyalty index of a newspaper. More the AIR out of TR, more the set of loyal readers you have. Among the Top 10 newspaper in the country Malayala Manorama is No. 1 in the loyalty Index. 

How are you bringing in new readers with your content strategy?
Our strategy is to engage readers, particularly the youngsters. Mpower - a column on gadgets, a very vibrant sports page, a highly focussed Padippura page for school children have helped us in improving the readership of the youngsters. 

Which categories of advertisers/ brands have been the most steadfast as far as print is concerned?
We can see a lot of FMCG brands coming back to Print. That is a very encouraging sign. Also, jackets are increasingly being used by most of the advertisers for impact, particularly the e-commerce advertisers. The latest IRS figures definitely testify this and their trust is in the right place. If you were to make an apple to apple comparison between Print and Online, advertisers definitely trust Print more than digital as a medium. 

How do you see print faring in the digital era?
In India, unlike in the developed nations, all media are growing. While the pace of growth of Digital may be higher, advertisers can’t write off any medium; particularly when it comes to Kerala, Print can never be ignored here as in terms of reach of Print, it is among the top few states. That is why even today Print attracts more advertising monies than any other medium in Kerala. 

What are the factors that are driving Print’s growth today?
Engaging content, higher literacy rate in Kerala, and of course, very planned strategies for retaining and increasing readers. 

What has been the political advertising like on Print for the 2019 Elections?
Political parties have focussed on impactful advertising like jackets. So, political advertising has been much better than what it was for the 2014 Elections. 

How do you view the growing number of readers on publications’ online editions and do you see these numbers overtaking print readership in the future?
Online readership is definitely growing, as unlike newspapers, which are primarily restricted to the geographies they come out from, Digital can reach all over the world. Digital overtaking Print is a possibility. 

With the IRS now set to be more regular with quarterly release of data, how do you it impacting readership numbers?
Readership will not impact subscriptions, it is the other way round. Quarterly reports are based on a moving average concept and this quarter’s figures were added to 3-year old figures. Since there is a huge growth in this quarter, next quarter’s report will definitely show an even a higher growth when you average out.

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