@ IMC'10 Day 2: AIM announces "Engagement Study"

The second day of the Indian Magazine Congress (IMC), organized by the Association of Indian Magazine (AIM), on the 7th of September 2010, in Mumbai saw panel discussions on various topics. The second day saw insightful discussions on topics pertaining to the magazine industry and as a medium which will only grow in the years to come.

On the second day, after the clink clanks of the tea and coffee cups, at 12.45 pm, there was a presentation made by Lynn de Souza, Chairman and CEO, Lintas on "What advertisers want from magazine brands? Delivering ROI in 2011". de Souza pointed out key things like- there lies a vast potential in Indian language publications, there needs to be a change in the distribution format, E-magazine formats can be utilized better to generate revenue and educating and engaging the advertisers is as important as undertaking exhaustive researches.

Post the presentation, there was a panel discussion on similar lines, and was moderated by Tarun Rai, CEO, Worldwide Media. The panel included de Souza; Ashish Bhasin, Chairperson, India and CEO, Southeast Asia, Aegis Media; R Gowthaman, Leader, South Asia of Mindshare; Debasis Mitra, Director, Marketing & Sales, Mercedes-Benz and LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research.

The moderator started the discussion by pointing out there is abundance of international brands in the market, the technology has been changing and how do the panel look at magazines increasing their market share. Mitra started off by saying that, the magazines could improve their market share by generating better business. He said the magazines should be looking at providing more tangible business proposals and should elaborate more on its reach. Mitra was of the view that when a brand plans to put an ad in a magazine as a niche medium, the client would obviously want to know "How many target audience have I reached?" and "to whom have I reached?"

When asked by Rai what the percent of marketing budget in print is for a client like Hindustan Unilever, R Gowthaman said that it is around 15% because print as a medium enables the client to develop the category itself. He further added that what the magazine industry right now lacks is that 'there is no push, no pull and no enablers. Elaborating on this, he said that while there was no push from the magazine industry and no pull from the agencies to drive the passion parallel for utilizing ad space in magazines, there is a lack of enablers too. He pointed out that there was a need to study in what way the magazine has been able to reach a category.

Leaving at the point of there being no enablers, Rai took this forward by asking LV Krishnan to comment on the measurements and metrics for the industry. LV Krishnan started off by saying that. "It all depends upon what is the metric you suppose to get from the measurement. From readership statistics don't expect to know how many consumers were reached. Keep the metric in place." He further contended that in terms of providing indicative average issue readership, the Indian Readership Survey has been appropriate. So if the industry wanted to get a better understanding of the demographics of their readers as "consumers", they need to combine from the subscription database to the readership database. He also pointed out that 85% of all the innovations in print have happened in magazines and also the fact that magazines over the years have been able to retain the brands that partner with them.

Moreover he added that the various genres on TV right now, are actually magazine sections which are being redone, be it leisure, travel or lifestyle, and advertisers are going to such channels to buy ad space, which also means that the market for such content is on the rise. LV Krishnan also said that if the industry is unhappy with something, it should go back to the industry body and engage in talks.

Concentrating more on improving the quality of the medium, Bhasin said that nowadays, unlike before, media owners have started disbelieving their own product and that there is not enough passion that drives the industry today. He further added that when the TV revolution happened, the magazine industry got caught between the TV and the newspaper. "Drive the passion within the industry and don't confuse gimmicks with innovations. Moreover, train yourselves better, train the media planners lot more and engage the industry", he said.

Adding to the discussion, de Souza said if the publishers need to get the advertisers invest not only in their print format but also in their digital formats, all they need to do is necessitate the use of both the media offerings. Besides, post activity results are measurable; hence the magazine industry could commit itself to measuring the results with advertisers and thus giving rise to a snow-balling effect of increasing the acceptance for various media offerings.

Towards the end of the discussion Rai, asked each of the panelists to talk of a key pointer that was important for the industry to inculcate. Mitra said that the industry has to use the logic of "sell the big idea and prove the model" to get more advertiser attention. While R Gowthaman, feels that readership is just a surrogate for engagement and that the industry should start measuring their engagement in terms of how a particular magazine was able to reach a particular consumer during a particular event.

On the other hand Bhasin pointed out that the industry needed to engage, interest and infuse the consumers, and by means of genuine innovations and not gimmicks. de Souza spoke of how the industry should try to monetize on the intangible elements that the magazine industry per se caters to and LV Krishnan emphasized on the importance of knowing one's metric.

While most of the panelists pointed out the factor of engagement and also about defining a metric, Pradeep Gupta, President, AIM, made an announcement that the deemed body will undertake an "engagement study". The announcement has come at the right time since the industry has been unhappy with the IRS results and that a new metric will probably provide better data, about the "consumer" and not just the "readers", for the publications and the advertising agencies. | By Prabha Hegde [prabha(at)adgully.com]


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