Engagement Study holds hope for magazines

10 Oct,2011

By Akash Raha

With the World Magazine Congress round the corner, New Delhi is set to host magazine publishers, marketers and advertisers from all over the world.

However, with news doing the rounds each year that the future of magazine is in doldrums (at least on print and paper), a lot of hopes are likely to be pinned on the Engagement Study conducted by Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), which is to be announced at the congress. The study aims to become a robust currency for advertisers.

Media planners and buyers whom MxM India spoke to about the study feel that it will herald a change for the better.

Premjeet Sodhi, President, The Collaborative, Lintas Media Group said, “Yes, the currently available syndicated research studies in India are not adequate to take fully informed decisions about selection of magazines from a media planning perspective. A lot of additional inputs are derived from proprietary research by agencies to be able to make prudent recommendations. Overall, there is a huge scope for enhancement of the syndicated data sources from the perspective of magazines. While, I am not aware of the research design of the Engagement Study, I am sure it will fill a critical void of information for magazines and will be a valued input for media planners and advertisers. I hope that going further the research does not stay at the ‘Category Level’ and does provide information at the ‘Individual Title Level’ else the applicability of the information will always be limited.”

S Yesudas, Managing Director – Indian sub-continent, Vizeum India said, “Personally I was shocked to see the numbers of some of the magazines when the Registrar of Newspapers of India publicized the print order claim made by magazines on its website, presumably through an oversight, as it was subsequently withdrawn.  Coupled with this is the reality of IRS certifying a consistent southward trend.  There are too many titles fighting for the same share of the audience pie, unlike the newspapers, they themselves are currently feeling the pinch.  While the engagement study might help differentiate one against the other in the same area of operation in terms of affinity, it will not make any substantial changes in the current perceptions and judgments by media planners, from an overall industry perspective. At best it will result in the publication with the highest affinity, scoring over the others compared to the current judgment allocation where the one with the perceived audience retention possibility gets 80 percent and the rest 20 percent. With the engagement study it might become 90/10 or 100 in favor of the one with highest affinity.”

With digital being the watchword for the future, this year’s theme of the magazine congress is ‘The 360° Opportunity’.

Dinesh Vyas, Business Head, MEC India said, “If you look at the way the print medium has been faring of late, I wonder how much of a difference the Engagement Study is going to make. The situation has changed drastically over the years and today, digital is taking away massive part of the advertiser’s money. According to me, digital is a very engaging medium, perhaps more than print as a whole. Whether Engagement Study will make a difference or whether clients will buy into a medium which is already losing interest amongst consumers, only time will tell.”

A few questions arise here: Will the media planners and buyers appropriate the study? Will they be able to trust a survey conducted by the very group on which the study is being conducted? The answers to these questions are close at hand.

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