Nielsen data shows Indian media consumer trust print, are digitally connected

By Chandler Wieberg


Austin, Texas, United States


India has a very large multimedia market. 

“Every second Indian is on the Internet,” Dolly Jha said during the INMA South Asia News Media Summit last week week, sponsored by the Google News InitiativeStibo DX, and the Indian Newspaper Society.

Jha is the managing director at Nielsen Media in India. She talked with INMA members about the state of print in India and how it is likely to unfold over the next couple of years, as well as what print publishers can do to take action and grow print media.

“Even in rural India, we are seeing that amongst men, 54% are on the Internet and women are lower at 34%,” Jha said. “But the big news is, Indians are getting on the Internet at an unprecedented speed.”

Dolly Jha, managing director at Nielsen Media in India, shares a consumer study of Indian newspaper readers.
Dolly Jha, managing director at Nielsen Media in India, shares a consumer study of Indian newspaper readers.

Jha shared a small survey held among 175 respondents, asking about their favourite source of news. “If you look at the younger audience, social media comes up very strongly opposed to news apps,” she said.

This survey found a fairly high number of audiences aged 36 years and older are getting their source of news from a newspaper with a lower number with the younger audiences.

What is keeping the readers going to newspapers?

The survey also showed reasons why readers turned to print for as the main news source. “The biggest reason was detailed news about a lot of topics,” Jha said. 

Other factors were not being blocked with unnecessary advertisements, followed by trustworthy source of news. 

Print products can help drive trust, research shows.
Print products can help drive trust, research shows.

This survey also found that for people who never read newspapers, the digital platform with all types of news formats has a huge pull with the audiences.

Learnings from advertisers that are emerging

Four years ago, Jha gathered data that showed print has the potential to drive tactical outcomes: “What we saw in the data set was the share of media spends for print were about 35-40%, and television was at about 30-35%.”

Jha wanted to compare print and television short term return of investments (ROI) and found print was still higher than television. But would this be likely to be the same four years later in the current situation?

“A big learning we have today is the kind of media spend that a brand should be clocking, as a proportion to revenue, the global average is 3.8%,” she continued. “So if your revenue is at 100%, you should spend 3.8% on advertising.”

In 2020, data from consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands showed a very strong ROI for digital, at 1.6. Print is now at 0.8. 

“We try to see this data by brands of different sizes in terms of revenue spend,” Jha said. Consistently, the ROIs from digital are very strong, and the ROIs for print are declining. 

“Print needs to create and establish a new narrative for itself in this context.”

What is the new narrative?

“It is important for print to create meta learnings on the type of effectiveness print as a medium generates,” Jha said. These meta learnings can lead a print brand uplift, which is something digital publishers have been doing aggressively for a while. 

An offline survey was conducted using pre and post methods to understand the customers’ views. Before the campaign starts, interviews are conducted among the readers to create a baseline. And after the campaign, interviews are conducted to see the impact.

The KPIs that are tracked for this campaign were awareness, message association, customer attitude, and the call to action. 

“The good thing is, the print publishers are now playing catch up,” she said. In the last six months, three campaigns were launched to assess the level of effectiveness print ad campaigns are generating. Two out of three of the campaigns had very positive results. 

Print campaigns are now doing well.
Print campaigns are now doing well.

“I believe this is something that should have happened four or five years back,” she said. “This needs to be done much more, and the print publishers really need to move very fast on this.”

Driving trust with print

Jha also discussed that print must leverage the power that is has in driving trust. 

A large campaign was run by a digital publisher to talk about Internet safety in India: “Print was a medium to propagate this message,” Jha said. This campaign showed print gave a 30% increase in brand trust. 

“So much has been said about trust. It’s a very prized weapon for print when issues of brand safety and fake news needs to be countered by advertisers. This is something publishers should be talking loud and strong about.”

Jha gave another example of how print stands tall on trust, showing how recent publication brands with the highest trust index. 

One headline coming through very clearly is that when you compare across platforms — print, TV, news, social media — print is actually coming out the strongest on trust. 

“We undertake 30, 40, 50 studies and put those learnings across different kinds of newspapers and target groups, and create compelling data that shows where we stand on trust,” she said.

Key messages for print publishers 

What is the narrative print should be driving? “Reinforce positives in an unabashed manner and with empirical data,” Jha said. “If you don’t have empirical data, this is what advertisers are looking at. It is a must.”  

Other positives that print could be driving: 

  1. The effectiveness of print. Once the readers were exposed to the campaigns, there was growth in brand trust. 

  2. Concentrated power of print. There are no issues with a distracted audience, such as multitasking or device sharing. 

  3. Prints’ towering position on trust. 

  4. Solid brand safety. 

  5. Loyalty of print audiences to their title. 

  6. Fairly strong micro targeting power of print. 

  7. Print enables innovative formats and is comparatively less expensive than television. 

But is building a narrative going to be enough? “Absolutely not,” Jha said. “Print needs to rebuild its connect with the ecosystem.”  

Actions that need to be taken by print publishers for the future:

  • Print publishers need to institute an advisory council that includes advertisers and planners. “This council should be actively dialoguing, celebrating print success stories, and talking about innovation in print,” she said.

  • Work together with digital to encourage cross media planning, it should not be done in isolation. Invest in print planners programme for cross media planning between print and digital. “Can we offer one pricing for print and digital versions of the offerings? What are all of the efforts being taken so digital and print can work together?”

  • Do not shy away from measurement. Invest in empirical learnings on engagement and effectiveness. “You have to build your own body of learnings. I’s really going to give good results.”

  • Print must recruit younger audiences. Can print produce four-page supplements specific to youth, three times a week? “This would get younger people excited, or at least get them looking at printed media.”

Complete coverage of the INMA South Asia News Media Summit can be found here.

About Chandler Wieberg

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.