Print Media Is Growing; Will Print Advertising Follow?

By: Ashwini Gangal

Few days back the Audit Bureau of Circulation released a report on print media: Over the last 10 years, the average number of copies circulated per day grew from 3.91 crore to 6.28 crore. Print, during this period, has grown at 4.87 per cent CAGR.

Will the new ABC figures tempt brand marketers to advertise more in print? And why does print continue to grow in India?

Edited Excerpts.

Siddharth Banerjee, executive vice president, marketing, Vodafone India

Print has traditionally been a strong medium in India. Vodafone has invested in print in specific campaigns, whenever it is relevant to the target audience and the marketing objectives.

Given that Vodafone has a number of different target segments, irrespective of ABC, we always evaluate all media and arrive at a mix which is most effective for the segment we are looking to target.

In India, print growth is primarily driven by regional newspapers which have a strong readership base across smaller town classes. While in larger markets there is a shift in habit from newspapers to news apps and e-newspapers, smaller markets are still newspaper-heavy.

We also need to recognise that different media measurement sources always tend to reflect different numbers. The next round of the IRS is expected soon and it will be interesting to see whether it reflects a similar growth story in terms of readership.

Sumeet Narang, vice president, marketing, Bajaj Auto

The growth in print as a medium can certainly be ascribed to increasing literacy and aggressive penetration marketing by publishers. The fact that the highest growth has come from the North, which also has had the lowest literacy levels, is testimony to this. Beyond this, it is difficult to generalise without a deeper analysis of this growth and to comment on whether it's due to any change (or lack thereof!) in consumption behaviour.

The role of print as an advertising medium has evolved from 'product information' to 'best deals' and 'what's new'. It seems to be most effective, albeit at a pretty high cost, if you are looking at instant awareness and action. In recent times, a lot of marketing spends have been dominated by emerging, new businesses, pushing new products or offers. Print is likely to attract advertising revenue in such situations. Print also benefits combating advertisers, who tend to get more reactive.

At Bajaj Auto, our marketing focus is on differentiating our brands. Our spending plans are influenced more by our brand and business priorities. I don't foresee a change in approach because of this new data. We never had any false notions that print was a dying medium.

Mayank Shah, category head, Parle Products

A durables marketer will look at the recently released numbers. But these numbers are not surprising. As literacy increases in India, we will see an increase in print circulation and readership. The numbers are fine and expected.

What I would also like to see is the readership numbers. While planning, I would not look at the circulation numbers in isolation. How much of this is genuine is the bigger question. If we look at the numbers closely, we'll see that the circulation numbers are ahead of readership numbers. So, are you trying to tell me one person is reading three or four copies of the same newspaper? Definitely not.

There are several ways to tweak the circulation numbers. So one needs to look at both the metrics to make the statement 'Print is growing significantly in India'. Overall, these ABC numbers won't influence me to change my plans.

Neelima Burra, chief marketing officer, country head, Olive Oil, Cargill India

Circulation is likely to continue its growth in tier II and III towns, which are major consumption markets for sectors like FMCG, retail, e-commerce and automobile. Surely the growth in circulation will encourage advertisers to spend more on print, depending on the strategy. We also need to look at the new publications that are being launched.

Currently, tier II and III markets are 'focus consumption centres'. Print continues to grow because of the following factors - expanding reach of FMCG players, automobile companies going rural, growth of online sales, and growth of desktops and smartphones in rural markets.

By: Ashwini Gangal

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Ebook Sales Continue to Fall as Younger Generations Drive Appetite for Print

By: Sian Cain

Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that ebook sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

More than 360m books were sold in 2016 – a 2% jump in a year that saw UK consumers spend an extra 6%, or £100m, on books in print and ebook formats, according to findings by the industry research group Nielsen in its annual books and consumer survey. The data also revealed good news for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, with a 4% rise in purchases across the UK.

While sales through shops increased 7% in 2016, ebook sales declined by 4%. It is the second year in a row that ebook sales have fallen, and only the second time that annual ebook sales have done so since industry bodies began monitoring sales a decade ago.

Sales of printed books rose 7% in 2016 while e-book sales fell as mobiles and tablets overtook dedicated e-readers.

In 2015, the Publishers Association found that digital content sales had fallen from £563m in 2014 to £554m, while physical book sales HAD increased from £2.74bn to £2.76bn. The Bookseller also discovered a similar result, finding in its own report about the five biggest general trade publishers in the UK – Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – that their ebook sales collectively fell 2.4% in 2015.

The shift was attributed to the explosion in adult colouring books, as well as a year of high-profile fiction releases, including The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. “Readers take a pleasure in a physical book that does not translate well on to digital,” the Publishers Association report read.

But Nielsen’s survey of 2016 attributed the increase in print sales to children’s fiction and to younger generations preferring physical books to e-readers. A 2013 survey by the youth research agency Voxburner found that 62% of 16- to 24-year-olds preferred print books to ebooks. The most popular reason given was: “I like to hold the product.” While Nielsen found that 50% of all fiction sales were in ebook format, only 4% of children’s fiction was digital.

Steve Bohme, research director at Nielsen Book Research UK, who presented the data on Monday ahead of this year’s London book fair, said young people were using books as a break from their devices or social media. “We are seeing that books are a respite, particularly for young people who are so busy digitally,” he said.

“Over the last few years we have seen a return to favouring print, partly from what is really successful, this year being non-fiction and children’s books,” he said. While adult colouring books were popular in 2015, last year saw books about healthy cooking and the latest Harry Potter sell well – which Bohme noted are “books that tend to translate better in the print form”.

The Nielsen survey contained another first: mobile phones and tablets overtook e-readers as the most common device used to read ebooks, with readers favouring multifunctional devices over dedicated e-reader brands such as Kindleand Nook.

While ebook sales had plateaued, Bohme said it was important to remember that the figures were still higher than they were five years ago, holding a 25% share in 2016, compared with 26% in 2015 and 18% in 2012. The average ebook price increased to £7.

Bohme said ebooks sales would continue to decline in 2017, barring a new development in e-reader technology. “One thing we’ve seen is that when print sales surge, industry confidence in the print increases. If publishers are confident, they can have huge success,” he said. “If we have a couple of years of that success story, print sales will keep going up.”

Author: Sian Cain

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One Company's 'Blueprint' for Magazine Media to Thrive

By: Cobus Heyl

It boils down to strength of connections allowing brands to monetise across an increased number of touch points, leaving it less exposed to the uncertainties of an ad market stacked against the original, quality producers of content. 

In order to achieve this, they need to do a few things well, including:

1. A ruthless focus on building relationships of trust with consumers around prime interests 

2. Providing consumers with opportunities to connect around, express and revel in their passions

3. An understanding that “magazine media” does not only mean developing media content brands, but also the platforms that support the monetisation of said brands

A case in point is the UK’s Immediate Media, a magazine media company only launched in 2011 when the digital disruption of media was already well, well underway.

Within the space of 6 years, the firm, describing itself as “a special interest content and platform company”, established its credentials sufficiently to be acquired by Germany-headquartered Hubert Burda Media – itself a “media and technology operation”, but with legacy stretching back more than 100 years – for an undisclosed sum.

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Part of Immediate’s appeal lies in the company’s ruthless ability to engage and deliver to special interest audiences, maximising the chain of value opportunities each and ever consumer presents. In a world where monthly audiences are often measured in the hundreds of millions, if not billion plus, Immediate Media shows what can be achieved with an audience of 19 million on the basis of the strength of connections between audience and brand and among the audience itself. 

The bottom line for magazine media with this in mind: Quantity of relationships does not trump quality of relationships in each and every instance, provided you are smart in how you go about developing your model. In the case of Immediate, it is built on three pillars (we mention a fourth, crucial one below):

1. Special interest content

2. Special interest platforms

3. Technology infrastructure in support of the above

To achieve the above, Immediate set about building the business through a combination of organic development supported by smart acquisitions aimed at exploiting opportunities brought about special interest brands’ ability to connect at a deeply emotional level.

In doing so, it enables the business to monetise across a range of consumer touch points, making it less exposed to the vagaries of the advertising market. FIPP asked Immediate Media Co’s Francois-Regis Coumau (pictured above), group managing director of consumer revenues, three questions about the group’s thinking around monetisation “direct from consumer” (rather than, or more specifically, on top of advertising). These were:

1. What are the key “direct from consumer” monetisation opportunities for you?

2. How do you go about developing these?

3. How do you move people through the purchase funnel, from awareness through to purchase and repeat transacting?

Special interest content; special interest platforms

To the first question, Francois-Regis said the group hopes “to capture the strategic opportunity from our customers” through the definition of being a special interest content and platform company. Thinking with ruthless focus in these terms, it appears to allow the company to consider media not as “legacy versus new”, but with 100 per cent focus on the consumer first, then building the opportunity from there.

According to Francois-Regis, Immediate Media’s “print business continues to thrive – we’re actually growing retail sales value and have launch over 25 magazines in the last five years. That’s because we play in special interest sectors where we absolutely understand the passions of our audiences. 

“From TV and entertainment to food, weddings, crafting to parenting, gardening to cycling, we have created brands which are powered by world-class content creators and trusted implicitly by our super-engaged audiences – who add up: in total we reach over 19 million UK consumers each month.”

The above, then, is the special interest content component.

“The platform element of the strategic mission is all about utilising our consumer engagement and our deep insights into those special interest economies to offer new products and services. 

“That trust which is so important between our brands and their audiences means our customers give us permission to develop new ways to meet – and hopefully exceed – their expectations. That could be through partnership transaction models, digital marketplaces or direct e-commerce through our TV shopping channels JewelleryMaker and The Sewing Quarter.”

Owning ‘retail moments’

“Our platform strategy means that we have been absolutely focused on optimising our customer database of over nine million UK consumers while at the same time developing a technology infrastructure which means we can move with agility to exploit new business model opportunities,” said Francois-Regis, responding to the second question. 

“A good example is our TV shopping brand, JewelleryMaker. Immediate was already the number one publisher of craft magazines, with a strong and growing digital footprint. So we already had a dialogue with millions of active crafters, entertaining, educating and inspiring them. Which is what magazines do so well. But we were too far away from the retail moment in the sector, which in the UK is worth over £3bn annually. 

“The strategic acquisition of JewelleryMaker gave us not only a great brand and a great business model, but it also gave us two new platforms: TV shopping and e-commerce. 

“Very quickly we ensured that the technology set was absorbed into our overall technology infrastructure and we started to apply the platform opportunity elsewhere – and obviously given our cross-marketing capabilities our first new TV shopping and e-commerce launch was in the craft sector. The Sewing Quarter launched in January and is already gaining real traction. And with models like TV shopping and e-commerce we’re able to own the retail moment that we have inspired through our fantastic content.”

‘Laser targeting’ to move consumers through the funnel

In answer to the third question, Francois-Regis refers to Immediate’s “super-engaged” consumers (again), the ability of magazine media brands to develop relationships of trust and the willingness of loyal consumers to share insights (i.e. data) with their brands.

“Our super-engaged consumers tell us a lot about themselves – they trust us. And that means that we can tailor services to their needs. That could be through introducing them to relevant suppliers through digital marketplaces like hitched – the UK’s premier digital wedding brand reaching over one million brides and brides-to-be. 

“Or it could be via transactional models like Your RT, the hugely popular section of Radio Times which offers our readers holidays, books and financial services products via trusted partners.

“A very focused data strategy means we’re able to laser target communities of interest with the right offer at the right time, and that’s driving real growth in our direct-from-consumer revenues.”

In addition to the above – the 4th pillar

Over the years, Tom Bureau, CEO of Immediate Media, has several times highlighted the importance of culture, talent and management of change as a crucial pillar – perhaps the most critical – for success. Below is an excerpt from what he told FIPP ahead of speaking at the 40th FIPP World Congress in 2015, about building the company. He explained that Immediate thinks about culture, talent and change in two ways. 

“The first way is to acquire the skillsets, particularly from a senior leadership perspective, that we lack – and there are lots of examples of us bringing talent into the business that we historically probably wouldn’t have. For instance our most recent hires [in 2015] to the leadership team from Tesco (CIO Toby Hoon) and eBay (Francois-Regis Coumau, quoted above).

“Secondly, we are very focused on developing the talent we already have in the organisation and thinking about how we move people into new roles. You have to get the right balance, and you have to be careful you don’t break the machine by changing too many of the parts at once. But if you don’t change it enough, then you don’t change the central gravity of the business and, while it’s always a work in progress, we are pretty committed to that.”

Immediate’s ‘blueprint’, then, for magazine media, in summary

1. Special interest content

2. Special interest platforms

3. Technology infrastructure

4. Culture, talent and management of change

5. Lazor-sharp customer insight (data); “owning” multiple touch points

By: Cobus Heyl

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