News publishers must meet advertisers on all their platform preferences

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


The way audiences engage with the news has changed, which requires news media companies to innovate and create new ways to attract their attention. Whether using unique print experiences or through multimedia marketing, news publishers are rethinking what it means to interact with audiences.

Pradyuman Maheswari, editor-in-chief and CEO of MxMIndia, led a panel discussion on the topic of creating engaging advertising experiences through platform innovation during the recent INMA South Asia News Media Summit.

Meet advertisers wherever they want to be

Customers have heightened expectations from the media world and are discovering news across multiple platforms. Customers have become platform agnostic and are willing to consume content in many different forms, said Dhruba Mukherjee, CEO of ABP Group.

“We are looking at creating content connections which will build audiences,” he said. “So whether it’s through television, radio, print, or digital, we are all trying to create these connections which will end up building audiences and then aggregating these audiences across platforms — and then going to advertisers with these aggregated audiences.”

News media companies exhibiting the most innovation will succeed at winning advertisers, so media companies must rethink their strategies. For example, Mukherjee discussed a promotion that ABP Group created for Cadbury, in which it leveraged the widespread appeal of folk music and created music videos with contemporary artists, then linked it to the Cadbury brand. The initiative was first promoted digitally, then expanded to print, TV, and other ABP-owned formats. That culminated in an in-person event.

“We delivered more than the reach or other engagement [Cadbury was] looking at, which is about 20 million audiences,” Mukherjee said, noting a single platform never could have delivered that kind of response. “It was a complete 360-degree holistic kind of a solution. Not print. Print-led maybe, but multimedia in nature and delivering the engagement and interaction the brand was looking at.”

Such an approach is the way of the future, creating both challenges and opportunities for publishers, who must reimagine what print advertising looks like and how it serves users. Mahesh Swar, CEO of Kantipur Publications in Nepal, said the company is using all available platforms, connecting print with digital using QR codes on a jacket around the print newspaper.

“What we started using is more this 360 platform where print goes with digital and video,” he said. “Somehow this combination of print with digital started [performing] well and it’s been almost a year now. The digital platform and the print which we are combining is coming up strongly in our market.”

One of the challenges of multiple platforms is that they’ve contributed to shorter attention spans among users. Catching the attention of consumers and then engaging them is half the battle, according to Anita Nayayr, COO, media and communications for Patanjali Ayurved Ltd.

“If you are not engaging with the audience, if you are not getting their attention, then what are we spending those bucks for and where is that bang going to come from?” she questioned.  Nayayr also emphasised the importance of using all available types of media to reach audiences.

“There’s no one media [that’s best]; there’s no one size that fits all. You will find various audiences through various media vehicles. So I think it’s important for all of us to jointly [focus on] that one consumer that we are talking about.”

Catching that customer’s attention means creating something that is “really, really interesting,” she said. Whether it’s an event, a Webinar, or something else, publishers must know their target audience and find truly innovative ways to capture their attention: “We will have to constantly innovate and constantly keep ourselves relevant. I think keeping ourselves relevant is most important, whether it is a brand, whether it is a publisher, whoever it is. Relevance is really important.”

Relevance is key to becoming a multi-platform partner

Mukherjee agreed, adding what’s relevant keeps changing — and only those who keep up with those changes will win the audiences and advertisers.

“It’s almost like hunting for opportunities which will create that hook for an advertiser to look at you as a medium,” he said. “Then whether you are the lead medium or a supporting medium, you create a proposition around that.”

Kantipur had used out-of-the-box thinking to win print advertising by leading with other formats, such as multimedia, digital, and audio — then including print, Swar said. That approach successfully landed a deal with Coca-Cola, which wouldn’t advertise with Kantipur because it is a print publication and the brand no longer uses print advertising.

Kantipur came up with the Coca-Cola Hunger Hunt, which launched with a video on YouTube that was promoted through print.

“Suddenly Coca-Cola — who never thought of coming to print — came to print, and we got a very strong response from the audience,” Swar said. That has changed Kantipur’s perspective and now it is looking at other ways to use multimedia, print, and social platforms to reach audiences.

The key to successfully using all available formats, Nayayr said, lies in looking at the role each one plays and understanding how it can meet the needs and objectives of the client: “It completely depends on what the objective is, what is needed, what kind of budgets are there. One medium doesn’t fit all objectives, so it has to be a combination.”

About Paula Felps

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