Southern Indian news publishers form alliance to increase digital advertising market share

By Sushil Kumar Tyagi

Ushodaya Enterprises Private Limited (Eenadu Group)

Delhi, India


I have previously written on the need for Indian news publishers to develop new advertising strategies and the open-market innovation model in India. With those topics in mind, I want to discuss the practical application of strategic innovation and the blue ocean strategy.

The initiative is undertaken by four leading news publishers in southern India: South Premium Publishers, which is in a strategic alliance with Dinamalar (the world’s leading Tamil daily news publication company founded by Thiru. T.V. Ramasubbaiyer); Eenadu (the world’s leading Telugu daily news publication company founded by Shri Ramoji Rao); ManoramaOnline (the 23-year-old digital arm of Malayala Manorama Group with a global monthly reach of 36 million); and Prajavani (one of the most trusted and credible news brands across Karnataka).

A strategic partnership has empowered four media houses and helped advertisers leverage their reach.
A strategic partnership has empowered four media houses and helped advertisers leverage their reach.

Indian news publishers need a new ad strategy in the wake of COVID-19, and the blue ocean strategy is the way forward. Additionally, the open-market innovation model is particularly relevant at this time. During the pandemic, the digital landscape accelerated across the world. India was no exception.

One factor noted in recent surveys is the importance of the credibility of news and its source. Though the digital medium allows individuals to share their points of view or information as user-generated content, it is proving to be a double-edged sword. The market is flooded with information, but there are issues.

Audiences are getting a variety of news from several platforms. This has not materialised efficiently for media houses, as this increased content consumption has not translated into revenues. Rather, the majority of media verticals have seen a decline in revenue.

Digital media, which is a relatively new medium, is quickly acquiring advertising market share. Per KPMG’s India Analysis Report of 2020, digital and OTT (over-the-top media) will surpass televisions adverting revenue during 2021 (digital and OTT FY21P: US$3.02 billion; television FY21P: US$2.94 billion, with 12% growth and 17% decline, respectively). There is huge potential for business in this domain, and every media house wants to tap this opportunity.

Indian digital media revenues are primarily and largely generated through advertising. Based on this and other predictions, media houses have already started making significant investments in their digital offerings.

However, the benefits are not percolating down to publishers. As usual, larger platforms and aggregators are taking away the lion’s share of these revenues. Traditional mediums like print and television have already developed and established an excellent revenue model that works well for every media house. Concerning the digital medium, due to the absence of a well-defined advertising business model, the media houses are finding it difficult to manage their fair share, and big multi-national players control this ecosystem.

India is a country of multiple languages. It can broadly be categorised into the Hindi-speaking market (HSM) and non-Hindi speaking markets (non-HSM). The non-HSM are primarily located in the southern part of India.

Clients plan their media activities based on their market priorities and requirements in these two categories. If we analyse the statistics, the GDP contribution of the southern market is around 29.7% of the total Indian GDP. Advertisers are keen to secure these available prospects in the digital medium, and are, in effect getting an excellent business response of their offerings there. With this setup, advertisers look for a convenient single-window solution to reach their targeted audiences in these markets.

The four above-named leading digital news publishers of the southern states joined hands to form a strategic alliance called the South Premium Publishers (SPP). It is India’s first prominent digital advertising package offering digital advertising solutions to advertisers collectively as a group of renowned publishers.

According to the GA report on combined monthly averages from April 2020-September 2020, the group collectively offers 37 million unique views, 715 million pageviews, an average time spent of 3.36-8.09 minutes, and three impressions per month.

The key feature of SPP is that, by advertising on the digital assets of these publications, advertisers can reach their target audience in one go. Advertisers can execute their targeted campaigns in southern India through a single point of contact and a single RO. The alliance offers a robust value proposition and, therefore, it makes good business sense for the advertiser. It offers a customised solution to advertisers based on the mature and deep understanding of the market of the publishers constituting it.

SPP is an excellent example of the famous blue ocean strategy with open-market innovation. The cutthroat competition is avoided to a large extent, and a regional language advertising option is provided to advertisers, which is innovative and unavailable in the market.

Additionally, this initiative creates value innovation with the Four Actions Framework (eliminate, reduce, raise, and create) of the blue ocean strategy. All this is helping publishers and advertisers move from highly cluttered (red ocean) to market-constructing (blue ocean) strategies.

About Sushil Kumar Tyagi

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