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Advertisers & newspapers need to collaborate to make print more exciting: Girish Agarwal

DB Corp Ltd has grown to be a Rs 2,400-crore media house today, becoming the largest read newspaper group of India with more than 25.3 million readers. DB Corp Ltd publishes Dainik Bhaskar (leading Hindi newspaper), Divya Bhaskar (largest circulated Gujarati newspaper) and DNA (the second largest read English newspaper in Mumbai). 

DB Corp is on a high as their Hindi newspaper, Dainik Bhaskar, has emerged as the leader in the circulations chart of ABC for the January-June 2018 period with 4,251,236 copies (without accounting for the circulation of Gaya and Patna), toppling the leadership of its competitor, Dainik Jagran(4,144,706 copies). 

In an email interaction with Girish Agarwal, Promoter-Director, DB Corp Ltd, speaks about the Group’s growth during 2018, strategy for the future, print industry’s performance and more. 

As per the ABC data, Dainik Bhaskar has achieved the No. 1 positioning, moving ahead of Dainik Jagran by 10+ per cent. What was your strategy in achieving this? Is there a specific market which has seen a bigger growth? 
Our ground connect, ability to quickly adapt to the changing needs of the readers, a well-structured research approach and continuous strive for excellence have helped us achieve this pole position. Our signature twin knock model, wherein we physically reach out to our potential readers, has helped us achieve the numbers. In Bihar, for example, we have reached out to around 7 lakh households, covering 534 blocks and 38 districts in just 6 months! 

As per ABC Jan-Jun 2018 data, print has been seeing an upward trend. How has this year been for the print industry?
This year has really been very eventful for us. Inspite of increasing raw material costs and other challenges, we have achieved several milestones this year. This year, we became the largest circulated newspaper and the largest newspaper group in the country. The industry has also appreciated our brand initiatives. With more than 52 wins so far at various international and national forums, we are one of the most awarded media brand today. 

Will there be a revision of advertising rates now that you are No. 1?
Yes. Ideally there should be a revision of advertising rates as per the circulation strength. In all fairness, we expect a fair share of ad revenues. However, there are several other factors which need to be considered before taking any decision. 

Do you think advertisers need to revisit their print strategy?
Yes, of course. There is a lot of scope for advertisers to try something new in terms of innovation, design and content to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Since the reach of newspaper has increased to rural areas as well, it offers a lot of scope for the advertisers. Advertisers and agencies should actively work on innovations in print ads. 

What has the response been from the young readers? What innovations have you introduced to attract women readers? Would you say that digital is proving to be a lead generator for Dainik Bhaskar?
Women and young readers have always been an integral part of our readers-mix. Our supplements, lifestyle & knowledge content and TG specific engagement initiatives are specifically designed to cater this TG. Our recent initiatives like Junior Editor and Little Chanakya have been majorly focused on young readers. Initiatives like Madhurima Club, and Kitchen Queen are some of our women-focused initiatives. 

How has the vernacular press performed in 2018?
Over the last few years, vernacular press is putting in a lot of effort to improve their content and reader engagement. This has helped the print industry to not only retain the audience, but also helped us grow. Geographic expansion with regard to both numeric and weighted reach has been one of our key strategies to grow over the last couple of years. Our leadership in Rajasthan and addition of more than 1lakh copies in Gujarat over the last one year are the results of such efforts. 

Newsprint is expensive, is there a collective body to address this issue?
Yes. Newsprint is expensive and the continuous increase in raw material cost has been a major challenge for the bottomline of the print industry. In order to handle this issue, players in the industry should collaborate and find out ways to optimise on cost. 

When is the IRS 2018 data expected to be released?
The commencement of field work has been announced. Hopefully, we should now have the IRS data more regularly from here on. 

Do you see a higher growth in numbers due to the election season, which has already begun?
Yes, we are quite sure of surge in readership in the next few months. Elections always generate a lot of interest. The relevance of news reaches all time high during this period. The recently concluded elections were no different. States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh generated a lot of interest during the recently concluded Assembly elections. 

What would be your message to the advertisers?
Innovation is the need of the hour. As a medium, newspapers offer huge potential to create meaningful engagement with the target audience. Advertisers, agencies and newspapers can collaborate to make the medium more exciting.

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