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PMMAO 2011 PRINT OUTLOOK : Let’s unbundle it

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Print will have to play second fiddle to TV in the fight for the ad pie share. Print’s share has been under pressure since 2009, when TV took over to emerge as the leader. The norm is here to stay and both TV and internet will further eat into its share.

According to the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2011, print’s share in the ad pie will further shrink from 42.3 per cent to 40.8 per cent.

However, decrease in share doesn’t spell negative growth for the medium. While, the medium witnessed a stupendous growth of 28 per cent in 2010, the pace in the year 2011 will be slower at 13 per cent. But then comparison is not justified as 2010 was ayear of recovery. The growth is expected to stabilise, which will bring to the medium Rs 11,291 crore, an addition of Rs 1,299 crore.

Arun S Natesh, Head – Marketing, Business Standard, too is expecting the print medium to grow at our forecast. “Media spends are estimated to grow at 15 per cent and print of course will get its share,” he says.

 

Classified numbers

Figures can be deceptive and particularly when Classifieds are not counted. Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook doesn’t take Classifieds into account. Sanjay Gupta, Editor and CEO, Jagran Prakashan, has another point to make. He feels that TV volumes are easier to measure vis-a-vis print in an advertising estimate analysis. “Print in its entirety is difficult to measure because of the extremely localised nature of advertising in it. I cannot think of anyone who is asking us for any local data and the estimation is based on scanning only some of the main editions that are being published. Even the likes of industry bodies such as TAM AdEx do not scan the 200 odd editions that Jagran, Bhaskar and others are generating,” he says.

Gupta’s colleague, Basant Rathore, VP – Strategy, Business Development & Brand, Jagran Prakashan, too feels that classifieds cannot be passed away and “they are an important source of revenue and holds great importance in the times to come.”

The views get echoed at the Bhaskar group as well. “Classified is and will for time to come remain the platform of buyer-seller interaction. There is a definitive role for them in retail market,” says Sanjeev Kotnala, VP, BrandComm, Bhaskar Group.

 

FMCG: In the fast lane

So what are the expectations of the print players in 2011? As the economy is back on track and marketers are shifting focus to non-metro markets and even rural areas, print is expecting to benefit from the trend. “The year (2011) promises to be a period of higher growth as brands further leverage their resources to consolidate, expand and gain strongholds in ‘Real’ India. With us, the regional language print will be the biggest gainer,” says Kotnala.

Much of the growth is expected to come from FMCG, which has shown an upward trend in the last few years. As aspirations rise, automobiles too are expected to use print for communication for retail sales and local promotions. Real Estate, which too is back on track and, in fact, an organised industry is moving beyond the metros. It is also expected to increase its contribution to the growth of the medium.

BFSI, is another sector, which print is looking ahead. Maheshwar Peri, Publisher, Outlook and Founder of Pathfinder Publishing, says, “BFSI, while may do branding exercises on TV, it has to take the print route to educate the consumer. And then there are the details, and the finer notes that cannot be told on the 30-second spot on TV or the 10-second spot on radio. Meanwhile, IPOs too are big spenders on print.”

While, the major beneficiary of cricket obviously is TV, print too expects to get a good spillover from the ICC World Cup and the IPL. Consumer durables, particularly the TV manufacturers and DTH announce big promotions and launches around the season. Other brands also plan activities around these events, and print certainly cannot be left out from the media plan. “Cricket is religion in India. So is print. And for the readers (and hence for the advertisers) there is enough cricket centric activities, content and opportunities in print,” says Kotnala.

 

Advertorials are a value-add

As display ads become a blind spot for the reader, the print custodians are looking at innovative ways to catch the reader’s attention. Expect brands to go beyond display and into advertorials in 2011. Shantanu Bhanja, VP, Marketing, HT Media, says, “While display will have its place, and we are not moving away from it, the new trend will be advertorials. We clearly mention that it’s a paid article. There is content, which needs to be explained and needs to be experienced. This content can come in form of advertorials.”

A case in point is an advertorial for Skoda, which Hindustan Times carried in Brunch. The advertorial carried pictures and articles on wildlife. “The idea was to have a Skoda moment. Such articles are a value-add for the reader and Skoda finds stickiness with the reader,” he says.

But Hindustan Times is not contended with that and wants advertisers to look at the daily from a brand perspective rather than a vehicle perspective. “We are trying to give a 360-degree experience to the advertiser, for example, follow up with the reader, and things like SMS backend and SMS reminder, and approach the advertiser with solutions,” says Bhanja. He believes that such ideas can bring accountability and help measuring ROI.

 

Correction of rate cards

The innovations are obviously a way to counter the gap between the rate card and the actual space sold on the medium and this is something the print industry finds very challenging. “Price discounting is a huge challenge. Because of larger number of players across all media categories, all vying for that same pie of advertising, pricing has remained stagnant in case of magazines. This has to change as product cost (paper, talent, and editorial production) has consistently gone up. With paper prices expected to rise in 2011, this will further create problem for magazine publishers,” says Anant Nath, Director, Delhi Press.

Meanwhile Hindustan Times has found a work around to the problem. It has taken a conscious decision to unbundle its publications and sell them separately. “We have created separate rate cards for Hindustan Times and Hindustan, and they are no longer clubbed together. We believe that each of our brands and offerings are very strong, and can be priced independently. And because of the growth in the industry we have been able to get volume increase and get people on board and pay more,” says Bhanja.

National advertisers in Mumbai, who were looking at bundled offers for a national plan, will now have to buy Delhi separately. “Delhi has a readership, thrice than Mumbai. So obviously, Delhi as a leader will get disproportionately higher rates. This will ensure that people value the product they are getting rather see it as a bundle,” he adds.

Plans are to unbundle Hindustan Times’ north editions as well.

As ad revenues are back on track and the industry is taking measures to correct numbers in its rate cards, will they fall back on the low cover prices of 2008? No, is the answer in unison. Cover prices are already low in India and even publications in neighbouring countries have five to ten times the cover prices of India. Maheshwar Peri believes that he’d rather make money from and let the fate of the magazine be decided by a million of people (the readers rather than 100 advertisers). So there’s no going back on the cover prices.

 

Challenges galore

To end, Rathore mentions four challenges for the print industry in 2011: a) Keep driving newer categories into print; b) Continuous innovations ; c) Work in closer partnerships with advertisers to deliver better solutions – not just in Print, but across multiple media; and d) Retain and develop core talent and continue on the path to developing category specialists.

So will print deliver on these fronts? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, let’s read out in the next section, what leaders from the print industry think.

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