Digital has booked its place in the media plan

On the first day of the 7th South Asia Annual INMA conference, the hot topic of discussion was how media companies and their consumers would adapt and change in the new environment of the digital era. The second day began with the discussion on how media planning would change in the digital environment.

As CVL Srinivas, South Asia CEO of Group M took to the stage, he threw some interesting figures which established how digital media was spreading its tentacles among media consumers in the country.

  • There are 146 million digital media consumers in India, a number that equals the total English-speaking population in the country and is five times the size of SEC A+ population in the country.
  • Facebook reaches out to 82 million people every month, 10 to 15 million people per day.
  • With 30 million people viewing videos on YouTube every month, it can be compared with any leading television channel in the country with a cumulative monthly reach of 35 million. In fact, it is the seventh most popular channel in the country.
  • In terms of the number of impressions, the Internet is two times more cost effective than television, and four times more cost effective than print. 
  • By 2015, 450 million people in India will access digital media, and only 20% of them will access it on traditional digital devices like the PC.

Talking from a media planner’s perspective, Srinivas said that although advertisers are moving with the audience, the question arises if they are moving fast enough.

 This is why big television advertisers have shifted from single-screen planning to multi-screen planning, and the planner ensures that some of the GRPs come from the digital media as well.

Besides, digital has emerged as the anchor for most 360-degree campaigns. Not only does digital help add value to the print content, it has allowed brands to move from vanilla advertising to a brand content platform. It helps brands to come up with content that goes with the platform. 

The positive aspect is that advertisers are questioning the plan and see digital as the natural extension to television.

All not over for print yet 

Lara Balsara, executive director of Madison World, reinstated the belief that all’s not over for print yet and the picture is still very bright.

She started the discussion with an interesting observation. Drawing a parallel between the Indian print media and the sun, she said, “Print media is like the sun, rising in the East and declining in the West.”

With figures to support her statement, she went on to prove how print was thriving in the country.

  • Print remains the largest contributor (41%) to the advertising market in India, though its contribution to the pie is declining. Meanwhile, digital’s contribution to this pie has grown in the last 10 years, from 0% to 10%.
  • Print continues to remain relevant and effective for advertisers in specific sectors and has immense potential to grow by focusing on other categories. Sectors such as automobiles and banking continue to advertise in print (print is 21% more effective than any other medium, as per a study by Madison). For categories such as paints and cooking oils, print plays an effective role in influencing purchase decisions of consumers. Magazines make cars more desirable and newspapers offer information and close the sale. But, according to Balsara, FMCG is one category that has evaded print until now. 
  • Print also has an opportunity in the inventory crunch faced by television channels owing to the TRAI ruling on the duration of ad breaks. As cost of advertising on TV will rise, one can expect advertisers to move their budgets to print and other media.

Print + digital = better ROI

The discussion in the last two days established the fact that print and digital were a deadly combination together, offering better returns for both the media owner and the advertiser.

In the third session of the second day of the 7th South Asia Annual INMA conference, Rickard Ohrn presented figures to establish how print and digital combination improved the ROI (return on investment).

Ohrn started the session with a discussion on how digital has changed and challenged the media landscape across the world, offering a higher degree of flexibility to consumers. For the marketers, the new media meant increased options across traditional, social, and Web-based media in addition to marketing partnerships.

He agreed readership numbers for print media are decreasing in the West, as are revenue figures. But not all is not yet lost. Print is still valued as a media platform. Ohrn referred to a study that showed in the long run, the observation values for print were stable; in the case of digital, they were declining.

That said, print and digital together offered a better ROI. According to the study, print + digital campaigns provided better recall, increased knowledge, higher engagement, and an increase in action.     

Case studies of advertising excellence

• Hindustan Times: Print media is one of the most powerful tools to bring about a social change and mobilise people. It engages and interacts with readers, enables change and creates creative avenues for people to drive positive change, highlights positive stories of people, and gives them their due, while also strengthening a brand’s connect with its consumers.

Hindustan Times did just that with Tata Tea’s “Soch Badlo” campaign.

In partnership with the tea brand, HT — through its editorial series called “India Empowered” — asked readers to send in nominations of people who have done good work through the digital platform. Radio was used extensively to build engagement.

These change agents, nominated by readers, were then showcased across the country in a conclave. Their encouraging stories were drafted into a coffee table book.

This initiative not only managed to drive a positive change, but also increased the brand’s stature and amplified the campaign.

• ABP: How did a newspaper change the chocolate consuming habit of a region through a wisely devised campaign that was dramatic, entertaining, as well as interactive?  

In a traditionally mishti-eating state, Cadbury’s wanted to drive consumption for its milk chocolate. ABP’s stronghold in Bengal ensured sweet success for the brand.

With the help of popular celebrities from the region talking about it, as well as the buzz created outdoors, amidst much drama, ABP and Cadbury’s announced a marriage of the chocolate brand with Mishti (sweet), touting them as Bengal’s most loved couple.

Invitations for the wedding were sent out to the readers of ABP through the newspaper. In this way, they got people to sample the sweet “marriage” of Cadbury’s with Mishti.

It was an ingenious way to make Cadbury’s a part of the everyday life of Bengalis. 

Regionalisation in print

In the second half of the day, representatives from leading language newspapers shared their experiences in their respective markets.

The session was moderated by Arun Anant, CEO of the Chennai-based national English daily, The Hindu. The panel also included speakers Malayala Manorama’s Rajagopalan Nair, Eenadu’s PVS Prakasam, and Dainik Jagran’s Basant Rathore.

Anant started off the discussion saying that he was glad that the industry had started calling regional language publications “regional” or “language” newspapers and not vernacular as used by the British. Even regional is national now as the regional newspapers today cover national and international developments as much as give national coverage.

Anant said that certain myths no longer hold any water. It was a common belief that news was consumed in English and entertainment in local language. But, Anant said, looking at the way language newspapers are growing in the country, such beliefs will soon disappear.

But, of course, it’s a different issue that news has become entertainment now, he joked.

Anant also cleared certain other myths. For instance, regionalisation did not just mean small town audiences, though it is a significant portion of that. Modernisation is not about people moving from small towns to metropolitan areas. It takes place in its own environment and ecosystem.

Anant finally raised the question of whether media companies were re-orienting themselves toward these changing dynamics.

Nair of Malayala Manorama spoke about how publishers in Kerala were growing through mutual collaboration. In fact, all newspapers in Kerala have maintained a healthy cover price, which is among the highest in the country, by collaborating with competitors and not undercutting each other. 

Similarly, newspapers present there were also able to curb a politically backed strike by newspaper distributors by uniting together.

Prakasam shared that Eenadu was successful because it developed the audience through hyper-localisation. The newspaper has 319 constituent editions in the state with 500 direct editorial staff, 1,500 freelancers, and 12,000 distribution employees.

Eenadu today is available in 30,000 villages of a total of 34,000 villages in the state. It has successfully employed the strategy of bringing down the dependence on national advertising, creating new categories at the local level. Prakasam also disclosed how technology has allowed personalisation of news content and helped the newspaper narrowcast itself.

Rathod of Dainik Jagran shared how macro-factors were increasing consumerism across the country and how this growing consumerism was attracting marketers to these markets. To reach out to these consumers, brand owners heightened their marketing activity in these markets and media played its role by trying to deliver this audience to the marketers.

So, there was an overall growth opportunity for all.

Rathod also said that in India, the dialect changes every 21 mms and regional newspapers have reacted to this situation with hyper-local editions. 

Challenges and scope of multi-media newsrooms

The debate on whether to have a mult-media newsroom is over. Today, it’s all about how soon, and how effectively.

Prominent editors such as R Sukumar of Mint, Kalpesh Yagnik of Dainik Bhaskar Group, and Shekhar Tripathi of Jagran Publication are — cognizant of that. They hope tthe transition to an adept multi-media newsroom happens sooner, for it has the capability to disseminate news faster to a larger audience. It also drives revenues.

However, there are numerous challenges.

One of the major challenges is the mindset of journalists accustomed to the old-fashioned way of reporting and, hence, not keen on adapting to new Internet reporting.

But increasingly, newsrooms are becoming aware that there’s no content differentiation when it comes to TV, print, or digital. In fact, the advent of digital has made customisation of content possible. Today, a multi-media newsroom is capable of catering to an audience that only wishes to glance at news and one that is demanding in-depth analysis of news.

News has started operating in a continuum. News as it happens is served to consumers via digital, mobile, and print. Reporters then manage to come out with a detailed analytical piece the next day, with additional inputs, to which readers attach great credibility.

 The need of the hour is to train journalists to cope with multi-media newsrooms and real time reportage — and to have the right technology to back it. And that, experts believe, will pave the way for better and more value-enhanced journalism in the days to come.

Case studies of market expansion 

What are the challenges in expanding to different markets? And how does a print company tackle them?

Arvind Kalia (national head of marketing at Rajasthan Patrika) and Ranjeet Kate (director Response/Maharashtra Times) shared their respective experiences.

Rajasthan Patrika covers almost 50% of the Hindi heartland. From its presence in just one state in 1995 to being present in eight by 2013, the Hindi daily, today, has 33 print centres and more than 5,000 correspondents.

Three years ago, it was launched in Chhattisgarh. Here’s why:

Only 20% of the population read a Hindi daily there. There was a large number of people who could read a newspaper, but were not doing so. Patrika launched four editions in Chhattisgarh, including one in Bastar, where no newspaper was present.

The launches were riddled with challenges as there weren’t enough qualified staff available, and people from outside weren’t willing to shift as the region is infamous for Naxalism. Add to that transportation issues. But, Patrika managed to sail through, and today, has a circulation of 2,70,000 copies in Chhattisgarh and a readership of 2,24,000.

Maharashtra Times looked at expanding a language brand to cater to a mini-metro reader — the upwardly mobile Maharashtrian. The aim was to tap the affluent audiences in the top seven cities of Maharashtra, and to connect with the youth and professionals in these cities.

The Marathi daily achieved this by marketing with a difference. This it did by speaking the language of the target audience, making a difference to their lives, and empowering them.

In one such initiative, Maharashtra Times organised a bike rally for women, a first ever in Pune. One of its initiatives was the “Maharashtra Times Helpline,” which was created to generate funds for the education of underprivileged children.

The newspaper urged readers to contribute to charity to fund students so they could complete their SSC education. The newspaper managed to raise US$28 million with this campaign and thereby empowered readers to make a difference to the lives of the less privileged.

Maharashtra Times has carried out many such activities that not only bring in the moolah (ad revenues), but also facilitate a connection with the readers.

Print + digital: the lethal combo

The two-day event culminated with an interesting session hosted by media planner Anupriya Acharya. She was in agreement with the belief that print and digital together made a lethal combination, though, she worries people agreed to this belief too easily. She believes people should challenge and question this fact.

She provided the example of a few companies that failed to recognise and anticipate the change that was coming in and thus became obsolete, though they were market leaders at one point of time.

For instance, Sony Walkman was itself a revolution in its own time with music on the go, but was later outsmarted by another technologically advanced product – the Apple iPod.

Acharya is of the opinion that if the digital media was left as silo, it could hurt print. So, it is important that print embraces new technology and continues to grow. 

She then emphasised how our lives have changed in the last few years with the advent of smartphones. She believes the changes that have occurred are because of the evolution of technology, which has now become affordable and thus widespread. This has led to a change in consumer behaviour. 

Acharya highlighted the factors that are still fuelling growth of print media in India:

  • Rising literacy.

  • Low print penetration.

  • Advertisers’ interest in regional and small town markets with growing consumerism in those markets.

  • Activation and grassroot-level connect with the consumers

She further referred to an article featured in The Economist, which classified the reading behaviour in three stages.

  1. The print era, when habit-led, in-depth reading was popular.

  2. The PC era, when snacking and quick cursory reading became popular.

  3. The tablet era, when in-depth leisure reading has made a comeback.

The Economist article also suggested tablet users were more in-depth readers and were satisfied with their new tablet experience. Around 62% of survey respondents claimed they used the tablet more frequently at night, and around 82% primarily used the tablet at home.