Sanjeev Kotnala: Nine Things Helping Print

25 Feb,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala


Here is the good news for print that Sam Balsara presented at the recent Pitch Madison media projection.


1. Print is the largest media with some 42% plus overall share.

2. Difference between TV and Print has widened.

3. The growth in digital has come at the cost of TV more than print.

4. FMCG is the largest category in Print.

5. Hindi press leads the Print segment


Almost like a resurrection. And this cannot be attributed just to rising literacy or increased circulation. In an era when we were writing off print, it continues to hold fort.


ENHANCED RESPONSE: The client is experiencing a revived wave of response from print. It is a result of newspaper brands consciously investing in enhancing reader engagement and interest. They know the business is safe till readers continue to read a lot more detailed, multiple point view, easy-to-refer news that is easily, archived and accessed. In other media like TV, news is transitory and it dies sooner than it is created.  Watching a news channel is like self-punishment and the intellectual debates more like comedy classes.


STRICTER AD-EDIT BALANCE: Most newspapers have realised that in addition to the ad-edit ratio balance, what matters is the size and quality of the ads. It helps in creating an overall feel for the page. The bigger publications have woken up to the idea of insisting on space and number of ads on main pages. It is a definite plus for the business.


HAPPY FRONT PAGES: Newspaper like Dainik Bhaskar have made a policy guideline to ensure that front page will carry positive news that brings a smile to your face. Not something totally under their control but many times even intent would make me happy. They know that it is their small contribution in making the day start with a smile.


STOPPING AT HYPER-LOCAL: In its attempt to be truly localised newspapers had started going micro, in many ways affecting the quality of content. To go deep and micro with every possible news getting featured irrespective of its interest, value or impact. Somewhere sense prevailed and they defined boundaries of what will be hyper-local.


NO PAID NEWS: Newspapers in non-metros have taken a stance against paid news – native news and sponsored news till it is not clearly flashed. The indifferent treatment in mostly digital election has helped strengthening of this stance. They are unwilling to have any ambiguity in interpretation by the readers.


REINFORCING HABITS: Newspaper are making every attempt to keep the habit of reading alive. There is a huge pressure in circulation teams in non-metro markets.  The newspaper hits the door almost as a set alarm. Right on dot, everyday, 362 days a year.  It is very unlike metro, where newspaper brands feel they have done an obligation if they reach you as or even after you have left for work.


FORMATS AND NAVIGATION: Newspapers have re-engineered formats and news navigation. It has enhanced the content layout and ease of flow. You are absolutely sure where you will get the specific news or feature.  The bigger newspapers like Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Lokmat, Eenadu have maintained the number and quality of pages irrespective of the newsprint prices.


NO IRRELEVANT INNOVATIONS: I am happy to see no more of illogical unmanageable innovation in print. I am not against innovation. But I hate innovation for the sake of it. While innovations are award-winning creative marvel, they can be an irritant for the reader. Newspapers must guard against it. I know I will be laughed at. The counter-argument will tell me that the reader has adjusted to front jacket and not seeing the real front page. My advice is tread with caution and I will not take it for granted.


ENHANCED CONFIDENCE: It is good to see Newspapers strengthening their posture in term of rate and yield. They are finally willing to sacrifice business for the right rate. It is a long battle that maybe too late in the day. I appreciate it and watch the situation with caution.  Currently it seems fine, the return/ response being generated by the print ads in non-metros is on an upward swing. It is helping newspaper brands to deliver ‘more for less’ and everyone is happy.


It is time that the newspaper industry gets a fresh media synergy-multiplication study done keeping digital and TV in mind. Additionally it should seek fresh insights into changing news consumption pattern and keep the good work. Newspapers have been agile in the past in their response to changing trends. I just hope they continue to keep pace.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Head Catalyst at Intradia and believes the best way forward for an organisation is to enhance its interanal team’s potential and capabilities instead of depending on external resources. He is a management- marketing-media consultant and also conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). To contact email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit


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