Print remains effective force

What might seem to some to be a revolutionary concept, print will continue to be a unique advantage in the advertising world for many years to come, despite rhetoric to the contrary about all things digital. It was conveyed at the 21st World Newspaper Advertising Conference (Feb 24-25, 2011) organised in Malta by WAN-IFRA, witnessing more than 200 publishers, advertising directors and other senior newspaper executives from 47 countries including India.

Though the rapid growth of digital revenues and usage is significant, print continues to provide the bulk of revenues to newspaper companies – even in light of the ‘second wave’ of digital developments on mobiles and tablets. And even where digital advertising revenues are approaching and surpassing those of print, the traditional print newspaper continues to produce large revenues and profits, from both sales and advertising. But perhaps even more importantly, only newspaper and magazine companies can offer print as part of a multimedia advertising package – a unique advantage offering advertising effectiveness, audience loyalty and an attractive environment for advertisers.

“Most of the revenues are still connected to print products – you can still make a lot of money from print,” said Anders Berglund, sales director of Sweden’s biggest daily newspaper, Aftonbladet, adding, “It is important to have a focus on interesting new launches and new products, but also continue to develop the established products.” The Schibsted-owned Aftonbladet is perhaps one of the most successful newspapers world-wide in terms of digital advertising – it now produces a nearly 50-50 split in advertising revenues from print and digital. But the 160 million Euros it generates from newspaper sales annually dwarfs the 95 million that comes from advertising. Those sales “will be the main revenue stream for us for 2, 3, 4, 5 years – we’ll see.”

Adrian Hillman, executive director of Allied Newspapers, the publisher of the Malta Times, has good reason to develop digital properties – half his online audience comes from Maltese living overseas. But he too said that developing a portfolio of print products continues to be lucrative. “It is important to have our news pumped to every available electronic device. Advertisers will latch on to this. However, the demand for print is still growing because we have a spectrum of products to offer our client. We’re generating more belief in print, and more belief in our organisation. What we believe is that you build on the strengths you have,” he said.

“In many developed markets, digital advertising is reaching or surpassing the advertising generated by print newspapers,” said Eamonn Byrne, managing director of The Byrne Partnership, UK. But the bulk of those revenues is going to Google and other search engines and will never come to media companies. “In the context of a newspaper company, as an advertising salesperson, you have to look where the money is,” he said. “Within your company, you’ll be under great pressure for digital, and the advertisers will all be calling for digital. And the agencies will all say, ‘we’re really cool, we do multimedia campaigns all the time,” conveyed Eamonn, adding “It’s a problem, and you have to get yourself out of this, and the way out is integrated media campaigns. If you put together print, television, radio, internet and mobile, that’s cool again. It’s one way of selling print, and making it fashionable again.”

Innovation in India: lessons for the world

Benoy Roychowdhury
Advertisers in the Hindustan Times were hard hit by the global economic downturn, so the newspaper developed an alternative to cash payments: it took a stake in their businesses. “We now have a significant portfolio of investments that helped us build our revenue,” said Benoy Roychowdhury, executive director of marketing for India’s second largest media group, giving presentation at the 21st World Newspaper Advertising Conference.

That’s just one of the innovations the Hindustan Times introduced to cope with a changing market. India’s newspaper growth is well-known, but not all is rosy. Though affluence and the consuming class is growing, so is the youth population, which doesn’t read newspapers. Forty percent of the country’s population is below the age of 18.

Roychowdhury presented a case study of how the Hindustan Times has maintained its impressive print growth in challenging times. Pointed out the strategies of: investing in readership by launching targeted publications like financial journals, expanding into more affluent regional areas with local language newspapers, and launching youth editions in the cities; creating new revenue opportunities, like the strategic partnerships with advertisers; providing marketing solutions to advertisers rather than just selling space, and hiring staff that has a marketing orientation; collaborating with other companies; and delivering content across multiple platforms other than print, he said, “We should take a lesson from the Indian telecoms, who share infrastructure but maintain their separate brands.”

What they say?

“Advertisers aren’t looking for everyone, they are looking for the right people. I think a lot of publishers try to sell their overall reach – but you need to talk about how you reach people. You know a lot of things about how you sell your newspapers and how you reach your readers. How do you use your intelligence about your readers to create a better newspaper or magazine?”

-Fabrice Dekerf, managing partner,
Germaine Agency, Belgium

“Advertising is the equivalent of tapping someone on the shoulder and saying, ‘look at this.’ All I’m selling is a tap on the shoulder. You multiply that by a newspaper readership or a television audience or radio listeners, and that’s when advertising becomes economic.”

-Eamonn Byrne, managing partner,
The Byrne Partnership, UK

“A lack of deep thinking permeates the entire business world. They’re all rewarding people for short-term thinking. So our days are full of endless meetings and e-mails – where is the time for deep thinking? It’s just not valued in our society and needs to be.”

-Lindsay Zaltman, managing director,
Olson Zaltman Associates, United States

“It is important to have our news pumped to every available electronic device. Advertisers will latch on to this. However, the demand for print is still growing because we have a spectrum of products to offer our client. We’re generating more belief in print, and more belief in our organisation.”

-Adrian Hillman, executive director,
Allied Newspapers, Malta

“We are the most important market so far for the iPad.”

-Staffan Hulten, vice president/founder, RAM Research and Analysis, Sweden, on the fact that 50 percent of the 17 million tablets sold last year were bought by people in the media industry.

“I think there is a huge opportunity for newspapers in apps, particularly on tablets, to bring on the innovation, and start learning now.”

-Daniel Rosen, head of AKQA Mobile, UK

“The motivation of people going to the social web is completely different from going to the Google web. It’s like going on the phone, talking to friends. To successfully advertise and sell on the social web, the media industry must deeply understand the motivations driving users into this parallel web.”

-Gregor Waller, member of the management, vice president, strategy & innovation, Welt Group,
Axel Springer, Germany

“We are not selling one general newspaper audience as we used to, we’re literally selling thousands of audiences.”

-Ken Doctor, news industry analyst and author

“Behavioural targeting has become a major buzzword. Everyone talks about it, but most people don’t really fully understand it.”

-Halvard Kristiansen, head of Behavioural Targeting,
Schibsted, Sweden

“More people read a newspaper every day than eat a Big Mac in a year.”

-Suzanne Raitt, vice president,
marketing and innovation, Newspapers Canada

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