ABP in Kolkata, India, has a unique approach to its wedding classified ads. Chandan Majumdar, director of sales, spoke about this at the INMA’s South Asia News Media Conference.

“The various classified businesses were under stress from digital media,” Majumdar said. “Revenues were coming down in traditional print.”

That’s when the ABP team started to think that they should move into the digital media space instead of allowing others to take away their business. “We can give them a better run for the money,” Majumdar said.

To determine its strategy, Majumdar said ABP looked at a lot of its classified advertising business such as second-hand car sales, real estate, and education. In the end, the team determined the wedding classifieds were the most attractive in terms of potential revenue and getting up to speed quickly.

“I think other newspapers also have to look at adjacent businesses,” Majumdar advised. “They have to see where their strengths lie.”

For ABP, even though the print classified ad business was decreasing in revenue, it still had an extremely strong brand name, which resonated with generations of parents.

“We took it online,” Majumdar said, capitalising on that trust and familiarity. “Other legacy newspaper publishers have properties which have created trust, and they have to take it online and leverage that trust.” He added that it was also important for publishers to determine what differentiates their brand.

“In our case, the differentiator was photo ID, and that sort of blocked the fake profiles which were the problem elsewhere,” Majumdar said. “Leverage your old brand strengths … but you have to find out something new, your USP, otherwise you’ll be a ‘me, too.’”