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Ciao '14 | The Dominance of Print continues

With the growth of other players in communication spectrum like radio, television, internet, mobile to draw attention of the audience, the print media saw a constant decline for few years. But with the Brands and Corporates investing in the Print medium for their advertising purposes, the industry has again gained its momentum. From Page 3 to photojournalism to glossy magazines to the online forums and magazines, newspapers have found effective ways to rejoin new technologies and shifting the focus of readers. Making things easy for the consumer with apps for newspapers, newsletters and other latest updates available on the mobile, this industry is definitely seeing a shift.

2014 has been an interesting roller coaster ride with its share of success, excitement and learning’s. It did not live up to the expectations of the 16% growth predicted by the pundits and  media experts despite elections and the promise of economic recovery with the new government sworn in. However the Power of Print as a medium continued to be strong across most categories during the year.

Adgully caught up with some of the industry veterans like D D Purkayastha, MD &CEO at ABP Pvt Ltd, Suresh Srinivasan, VP -The Hindu Group, Pradeep Dwivedi, Chief Corporate Sales & Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group and Sanjay Mani-Vice President and National Head – D B Connect to know about how the print industry will be in 2015. Here’s a look at what each one had to say to us.

Key Milestones in 2014:

Speaking about the milestones for ABP, Purkayastha said, “Growth has been muted. Consumer Durables has done well, mixed bag for Auto, Education is in a major slump, BFSI has virtually disappeared from print and E-Commerce has emerged as a large spender.  We have almost doubled our revenues, albeit from a small base. Tier 2 towns continue to be attractive to advertisers. These are also more difficult to reach efficiently through TV, hence print.”

Mr. Srinivasan tells us about his key milestones. He said, “The industry as a whole went through the double whammy of low consumer sentiment and unstable economic climate, waiting for the promised Acche Din. Nevertheless, we have had some fantastic firsts and wins as well. We had launched New Ideas for a New India – a platform created to encourage public debate and discourse aimed to enrich our readers. Despite inherent slowdown, we had successfully concluded all our marquee events profitability. We re-dimensioned our work structures, brought in The KSL Work Way, greater customer centricity and implemented a more robust system for the client facing teams and support from the backend. Roof and Floor our digital foray in the real estate segment was launched in Sept and has rapidly gained traction to become the most popular sites for Chennai properties.”

Dwivedi said, “Our key Milestones for the year have been Sustained client partnerships, revenue growth, and a definite churn of high advertising categories. Our belief in the enhanced relevance of print advertising as a critical component of a media plan has been borne out by overall increased spends.”

Road Map for 2015

2015 indeed has a lot of hopes. Purkayastha said, “Revenues from activities will need to be doubled to pick up the slack elsewhere. On the regular categories- E-commerce will be big, CD growth will not be as robust as 2014-15- high base effect and absence of big ticket events like the two world cups this year. 360 degrees solution can be achieved through a mix of activation, native advertising, integration and traditional advertising. Collaboration- Print entities collaborating like the One India collaboration can generate great benefits to an advertiser along with ease of operation.

Srinivasan said, “The approach for the year has been consistent with our vision to consolidate our leadership position in South India. We continue to fiercely protect our dominance in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and AP&T while focusing on cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad to get into a strong No.2 position. We continue to invest in young readers and have done remarkably well with The Hindu in School editions that has over 1.5 million readers. The Hindu Young World supplement morphed into a snazzy glazed priced tabloid and the response has been overwhelming.”

“Content wise we have an improved ‘contemporary yet classic' product with the right mix. 2015 will see us completing the South Integration with Bangalore and Hyderabad as focus markets for consolidation. We will be the preferred media house for Pan South, brands and enterprises can totally rely on our Southern audience delivery and need not look beyond us at least in the print space,” he adds.

Dwivedi said, “Our approach has been one of proactive partnership evolution model with agencies and clients in tandem. We have focused on marketing the underlying strengths of our states of publication as attractive UnMetro advertising destinations in Tier 2 & 3 India, and the power of Print+Digital as a potent tool. We hope to continue on this journey in 2015 with higher commitment to client-centricity. We deliver immense value through our superior readership built on the back of differentiated and knowledge based content.”

New Advertisers:

There has indeed been a growth in the number of advertisers that print has seen. Surprisingly all of them had one thing to say ‘E-commerce players have been one of the top players in advertising in print to reach out to the audience. While there have been other players like FMCG, Consumer durables and other companies, E-commerce have dominated this market when it comes to advertising in this medium.

Thoughts on Readership Survey:

We all know that the readership survey and the kind of rumors it has. Let’s hear some industry thoughts on the same.

Purkayastha said, “For all its controversies IRS remains the only readership currency. We should follow IRS while trying to improve coverage, reporting etc. pros and cons”

Srinivasan said, “IRS as a system is flawed today, to put it mildly. With the change in the agency and methodology it has only got worse and the body has lost face and has made void a good thing going .As one of the viable currencies till recently for stakeholders it has lost its  credibility.”

Lastly Dwivedi said, “The ABC Jan-Jun 2014 audit report clearly establishes Dainik Bhaskar as the largest circulated national daily newspaper. We are very proud of our achievement, and will continue to work towards continued thought leadership and trust amongst our readers. The value that we deliver to advertisers in our markets is unparalleled in the industry.”

Key challenges:

There are challenges across all industries and so does the Print industry have. Purkayastha said, “Advertising growth has certainly not seen "Acche Din". The main challenge continues to grow the business in double digits.”

On the other hand, Srinivasan said, “In short it has been advertiser sentiments which are the result of slowing economy. Advertisers turned highly cost /ROI conscious and reduced campaign budgets to bare minimum. Tactical or Call to Actions campaigns were more in number as compared to strategic brand building ads. This might meet and garner results in the near and midterm for advertisers, but will not bring about great results as the long term needs will not be addressed through this approach. We hope to see a 2015 with much more strategic thrust from our stakeholders as we firmly believe this would deeply impact their business and keep us thriving in ours.”

Speaking about challenges Dwivedi said, “The overall economic environment has been a factor of concern and the resultant impact on spends has been the key challenge. Our innovations and partnerships have allowed us to outperform the industry growth trends but an overall ground level business investment & spends climate improvement is a real need of the hour.”

Digital and Social Foot:

The print also wants to stay ahead on the digital front exactly why all that is in print, is there online. On this note, Purkayastha said, “Monies are moving to these platforms rapidly. They have not impacted ad revenues as yet but the impact is not more than a couple of years out.”

Being happy about their strong presence on the digital front, Srinivasan said, “This is one area that’s giving us the smiles. We have focused and given special attention to this evolving space. It’s no longer an embryonic area as today, digital and to a fair extent print are the only two mediums that can demonstrate spending efficiencies. It’s heartening to see all our apps The Hindu, Business Line and The Hindu Tamil are downloaded in great numbers across Android and iOS platforms. www.thehinduclassifieds.in for booking classified advertisements has grown remarkably and our realty portal - RoofandFloor has been received very well.

While Dwivedi mentions that, “We have a very active Digital Media presence through DB.Digital, which leverages all the burgeoning opportunities afforded by the rapidly emerging digital and social web, devices and app ecosystem in our markets and beyond.”

On a concluding note Mr. Sanjay Mani-Vice President and National Head – D B Connect said, “2014 was an exciting and yet a demanding year for Bhaskar Group. The year opened on a watchful note as the country was preparing for general elections with the economy anticipating a new government. The mood therefore across India Inc. was that of cautious optimism with Corporates choosing to wait and watch. However, broadly for us, 2014 gave us opportunities to continue to test our mettle and challenge ourselves successfully.”

He adds, “A key aspect of our growth strategy that has evolved alongside the traditional print medium is our sound focus on the non-print business which continues to harness our strengths in this era of growing influence of digital, mobile and social media. We believe ‘crowd and cloud’ are elements that make print and digital natural, complementary partners to each other. While digital content in English is being consumed aggressively, we are closely studying our audience behaviors in the digital space to explore how digital content is being consumed in regions such as Tier 2, 3 or 4 cities and towns, where internet penetration is a challenge. We are extremely excited about the future and we look forward to delivering content in more unique formats such that they can be meaningfully consumed and engage more closely with our readers across all Bhaskar markets.” By Archit Ambekar | Twitter: @aambarchit

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