INMA conference 2013 forecasts
a hybrid print + digital news industry
Under the theme ‘Print: Thriving in the Age of Digital’ specifically for news media companies in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the 7th South Asia Annual Conference of INMA (International News Media Association) organised on August 22-23, 2013 in New Delhi. More than 200 delegates from the sub-continent thronged the conference which underlined a fast-paced tour de force of ideas and innovations to grow newspaper advertising, circulation, brand and revenue by addressing key current issues in the
‘print + digital’ ecology of the South Asian market.
The INMA annual conference drew more than 20 speakers, several partners, press and over 200 delegates from 25 newspaper publishing houses across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Europe and the United States. Sanjay Gupta, president, INMA South Asia Division and CEO, Jagran Prakashan inaugurated the two-day conference and initiated the discussion with remarks that industry stalwarts gathered together at the event need to find new ways of unique value proposition in the new age economy. He remarked, “The future of print media is quite bright in the South Asian market, but we need to learn from the mistakes of the West.” He stressed on the point that the print industry should find new ways to combat the tough times of slowdown and devaluation of the rupee. “We are and will be a hybrid print + digital news industry. In the times to come, monetising the relationship with readers will be critical. Therefore, it is necessary to move from a ‘print only’ approach to a multimedia approach,” he messaged.
Concluding remarks of Earl J Wilkinson, CEO & executive director, INMA at the end of the first day of the conference very clearly conveyed “Print has been our bread and butter till yesterday which needs to be undertaken now as our capital base on the transition to digital in the coming years. Journalism, what has been around as a prime motto till today, needs to be saved. The recent sale of The Washington Post in US brings a specific message to the Indian newspaper world which needs to be analysed thoroughly.” In the pin drop silence mode, Earl also cited enormous examples of various newspaper groups from different parts of the world which made the mark even in the time of recession. “The key message out of this period conveys very confidently as ‘Never waste a recession’. Thus it is high time to think back, plan and take action appropriately,” he messaged.
(from left) Earl J Wilkinson, Sanjay Gupta & Arunabh Das Sharma
In his remark on print and digital complementing each other, Arunabh Das Sharma, director, INMA South Asia and president, Bennett Coleman & Co put forward the question, “Is it print vs digital, digital first or print first?” He then answered, “Actually, it’s none of these, but print + digital. And digital blends itself to the print environment.” He further explained, “While the print circulation in half of the world (South Asia, Africa, East Asia and West Asia) is going up, complimenting this growth in the other half (Europe and North America) is digital, which is more relevant, with print taking a backseat.”
“Since digital lends itself to the print ecosystem and print gels well with digital, print + digital is a winning combination of much utility value across platforms for readers and a brand for all others. It is therefore a solution provider for advertisers and a voice to the powerful,” asserted Arunabh. Referring to a study which said that there was no either/or in the consumption pattern in media, but rather, a multiplicity of consumption, Arunabh said that print in India was more relevant than ever and it was important to understand the strength of the medium. He further pointed to the fact that when cable television was introduced, people assumed that it would take on the print head on, but now the situation was reversed and the next wave of consumers can only be reached by improving multi-screen marketing and to understand how consumers relate to each screen differently.
Under the sub-theme ‘Strategy and Trends’, Rama Bijapurkar, market strategy consultant and author conveyed very strongly that games being played for consumers need to be re-evaluated and offered some tips for media industry. The change is happening amongst consumers differently in rural and urban populations.
The first panel discussions had a focus on the topic ‘What Does a ‘New Media’ House Look Like’ which was conducted jointly by Amit Dixit, senior MD, Private Equity Group, Blackstone; Devendra Parulekar, partner, advisory services, Ernest & Young Pvt Ltd; and Rajiv Verma, CEO, HT Media Ltd. As per Rajiv Verma, the role of media house remained same since decades and it is just the role of technology which keeps on changing and thus makes a difference.
A question from audience
Another interesting session on ‘Why Publishing is Thriving in South Asia?’ in which the panelists included Ravi Dhariwal, CEO, BCCL; DD Purkayastha, MD & CEO, ABP Pvt Ltd; Jacob Mathew, executive editor, Malayala Manorama; Pawan Agarwal, non-executive director, Dainik Bhaskar Group and Sanjay Gupta, CEO, Jagran Group. Starting the session, Ravi admitted that newspaper is the industry which continuously keeps innovating and this factor will enable it to grow. He explained, “Our industry has further created the habit of news reading by delivering the printed newspapers right in the morning to individual household. Jacob Mathew said that in India media is always in contact with local people, which goes in a long way. Then print always continues to invest in news related to community building. In addition to this, for advertisers digital media cannot meet the requirements of like a small panel ad with affordable cost to a double spread advertisement. Similarly, the cost and investment in acquiring a tablet is reasonably high, making it unaffordable in whole of South Asia.
Sanjay Gupta taking over as panelist in place of Shahrukh Hasan, Group CEO, Jang Group from Pakistan who could not make to come, pointed out that media houses of South Asia keep learning from success as well as failure of bigger companies of the world.
Concluding their points of views on the first day of the two-day INMA conference, Sanjay said that the monetisation process of digital content may not be practical as of now, but yes in the few years from now.
Second day of 7th South Asia Annual Conference further witnessed a galaxy of speakers from different departments like marketing and editorials of media houses (newspapers) across the region who discussed on different topics. Opening of the day’s interactive discussions were unveiled with a discussion titled ‘Trend in Media Planning for Digital Media’ by CVL Srinivas, CEO, South Asia GroupM in conversation with Arunabh Das Sharma, president, BCCL followed by others covering strategic talks and discussions, such as ‘Print Works: A Perspective’ by Lara Balsara, executive director, Madison World; ‘Combining Print and Digital for Improved ROI’ by Rickard Ohrn, CEO, RAM Group; ‘Brainsnacks: Case Studies of Advertising Excellence’ by Dipanjan Dutta, chief manager, ABP; Suresh Srinivasan, VP advertising, The Hindu and Rajesh Ramakrishnan, head marketing, Hindustan Times. And ‘Brainsnacks: Case Studies of Marketing Expansion’ by Arvind Kalia, national head marketing, Rajasthan Patrika alongwith Ranjeet Kate, director response, Maharastra Times.
Further moderated by Arun Anant, CEO, The Hindu the seminar continued with discussions on ‘Regionalisation of Print: The New Success Mantra’ by an expert panel comprising Rajagopalan Nair M, chief general manager, circulation, Malayala Manorama; Basant Rathore, VP-strategy, brand & business development, Jagran; and PVS Prakasam, advisor, Eenadu. End of the last day’s session was marked with a vote of thanks from DD Purkayastha, director, INMA South Asia and MD & CEO, ABP Pvt Ltd.
Alongside the conference, INMA also made it possible to attract some of the industry players and invited them as trade show partners to showcase their offerings. These companies included ppi Media (digital publishing software); SL Kulkarni Cyril Graphics Pvt Ltd (GOSS web presses); Teli Brahama (digital experience on mobile); YK Graphics & Printers Emporium (consumables); 4C Plus (editorial, ads and circulation systems, subscription portals, etc); RAM (Media research company); and News Cycle Solutions (audience centric web, print and mobile solutions).