Complexity presents opportunity @INMA 2012

08 Aug,2012


By A Correspondent


The sixth edition of International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) South Asia Conference opened to a packed house on August 6 in New Delhi. The theme ‘Complexity Advantage’ was not only explored, but dissected and deconstructed. The sessions at the event saw discussion on various topics ranging from the need of newspaper companies to become multimedia organisations to the future of news, and if cost deflation is an achievable matrix.


Mr Sanjay Gupta, President INMA South Asia and CEO & Editor, Jagran Prakashan Ltd welcomed the delegates and Mr Ravi Dhariwal, President INMA Worldwide & CEO, The Times of India Group, gave the inaugural address. Talking about the volatile Indian newspaper landscape, Mr Dhariwal outlined five key points: “There is great optimism even when things have not been going great economically. There is a very big opportunity in tier II and III cities, which every newspaper is witnessing. On the back of multimedia and strong publishing business, companies have been witnessing double digit growth. However, the newspaper business is being treated as ‘one shot fits all’. Going forward, this strategy will have to change as the consumer needs customisation according to their needs and interests.”


He went on to say that publishing, as a business, has a bigger purpose of being at the forefront of change, and gave the example of TOI’s ‘Lead India’ and ‘Teach India’ campaigns.


Ravi Dhariwal
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His also commented on how advertisers are struggling with value: “We need to deliver and innovate to deliver extra value to the advertiser. My fourth point would be that the competitors need to join hands and collaborate to give better value to the readers and advertisers. If we do not do that now, we might bleed like the newspaper industry bled in the West.” He concluded by saying that fleeting FMCG advertisers who prefer TV as a valuable medium to advertise: “Should be given single rate from all newspapers.”


Mr Bhaskar Das, President & Principal Secretary to MD, The Times of India Group, who acted as a sutradhaar at INMA noted: “The newspaper business is rapidly changing. There is no equilibrium, only punctuations. The businesses today are caught in ‘complexity science’- any business can and will survive if they adapt to the changing environment.”


Mr Nandan M Nilekani, Chairman, UIAI, Planning Commission, Govt of India raised important points about how newspaper industry should integrate its print version with digital format to reach out to the larger, younger audience: “The advancement of computing technology is bringing dramatic changes in how media is being consumed. It is important to understand the interplay of demographics, cloud computing, content, mobility, and access to technology, to create a business model that integrates the disruptive advertising and subscription models.” He summed his theory as: “Get ready for online mobile-aware resident.”


Earl J Wilkinson
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Highlighting the fact that advertisers want quality reach, target richness, engagement, purchase intention, and actionable audiences from the newspaper media, Mr Earl J Wilkinson, Executive Director & CEO, INMA spoke on ‘The new growth path and how to get there’. Talking about the learning and examples from the US and UK markets, he said that Indian newspaper industry is at crossroads because of: growth beyond demographic changes; the struggle being less about circulation but more about readership; delivering value to advertisers even as multimedia and digital pose challenge.


Mr Wilkinson said: “The integration of content across platforms is bound to happen. And this is not true for content only, but also for the readers and advertisers. The problem of complexity does arise across platforms, but herein lies the opportunity. As the integration becomes a norm, the organisation models of newspaper companies will also change. The companies need to ‘aggregate’ and ‘atomize’.”


The new model, according to him, would focus more on competence and value that it gives than the product itself. He further said that most news would be consumed via mobile by 2015. “Mobileand social media would result in exponential engagement. We, as newspaper industry, need to be more relevant to the nebulous pursuit of quality. Going forward, the multimedia organisations need to manage print for profit, and digital for growth,” Wilkinson concluded.


The session on ‘Future of News’ brought interesting perspectives as the panel discussed if the attractiveness of news can be synchronised with commerce and content. ‘Winning the ad growth challenge’ saw industry veterans talking about factors that impact ad revenues.


The highlight of the day was the interesting session with young college students on ‘Walking through the mind of the post-90 born: ‘Creating a newspaper I would like to read”. The session gave interesting insights to the delegates about how newspaper is not a necessarily a chore for the 19-21-year-olds. They consume news on-the-go, and read newspaper “when they have nothing else to do.” Moreover, the young panel highlighted that they preferred going through trending articles and video links, showing how digital was their preferred medium of news consumption.


‘Battle of  Bulge: Is cost deflation a utopian expectation?’ was moderated by Mr Mohit Jain, Executive President, Supply Chain, BCCL. He pointed out the three challenges of newspaper business when it cones to cutting costs, “Globalisation of cost structure, supply chain issues, and volatility of newsprint.” The session spoke on how new business models of publishing and printing newsprint are managing the currency, size and quality; how newspaper companies need to unlock internal manpower potential across board; and effective supplier partnerships.


Mr Ashish Pherwani, Partner-Advisory Services, E&Y noted that newspaper organisations should pool-in their back-end resources, such as printing facility, to cut costs. Mr Pawan Agarwal, Non Executive Director Bhaskar Group echoed Mr Pherwani’s thoughts, and added, “We have created a common infrastructure for two or more of our editions. This helps in capping my Opex and Capex.” Mr Piyush Gupta, Group CFO, HT Media agreed: “Co-sharing is already happening in aviation department. If it can happen there, it can happen here as well.”


Mr Pherwani added: “Every newspaper industry goes through three stages: chopping off wastage; optimisation, and partnering with vendors. Currently, the Indian newspaper industry is going through the third cycle. It is imperative that we build a right product at right price by creating a win-win relationship with vendors.”


The panel also highlighted the fact that harnessing inner potential is important for any and all newspaper organisations to achieve its top-line growth. The panel also noted that what is core to a business and what can be co-shared: this will emerge as a real game changer for a newspaper organisation.


Giving a different perspective to the newspaper session was the speaker Mr Santrupt Misra, CEO, Carbon Black Business and Group HR Director, Aditya Birla Management Corp who spoke on ‘Managing cultural asymmetry in a multi-media organisation’.


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