Will Digital Kill the Print Stars?

23 Jan,2018


By Shailesh Amonkar


It is truly an interesting time for media companies what with the recent reports the Dentsu Aeigis Network (DAN) and the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) have both brought to light interesting numbers and facts.


While media companies and the public at large have been crying hoarse that print is dying, the IRS has proved beyond doubt that print is still on a growth trajectory and shown growth of up to 40 per cent across.


On the other hand, the DAN report has indicated that digital advertising industry will grow at 32 per cent and touch a humungous figure of Rs18,986 crore by 2020.


While the growth is encouraging it is equally pertinent that print publishers wake up and smell the coffee.


Action will need to be taken on garnering revenue growth in print as well as make inroads into garnering the digital advertising revenue which currently is being appropriated majorly by Google, Facebook and soon-to-follow the Whatsapp and Amazons of the world.


It took print publishers more than a hundred years to reach this revenue level and Google and Facebook have managed to do the same in just a couple of years. It is almost certain that at their current growth rates that they would soon cross the revenue of the large print publishers.


The best part about this is that print publishers spend a sizeable amount of money and time to create quality content and the Googles and Facebooks of the world smartly curate this content, monetise it and do a better job!


Google uses smart technology to monetise this contents and transfers a meagre share to the publishers and content creators. This also means that one change of their algorithms can alter future of publishers.


If one were to examine the break-up of digital advertising revenue, social media and search and video account for almost 79 per cent of the digital business. No mainline print publishers operates in this environment.


It is the 21 per cent of display advertising where print publishers have an opportunity which they have allowed to eroded as most of the display advertising on most print sites is powered by Google network where the revenue share for the publishers is negligible. Interestingly, the same publisher who are on the 85 per cent side of the print revenue pie are on the 15 per cent or even less side as far as the digital medium is concerned.


The larger problem that needs to be addressed is that no print publisher actually knows each and every individual reader by demographic or psychographic profile.But Google and Facebook know their users in far greater detail than even what even an Aadhar ID captures. These digital giants provide data analytics in far more detail and all in real-time which print cannot deliver.


The earliest erosion of revenue as far as print was concerned was in the Classified and Appointment categories and it was non-media players who managed to seize this revenue.


Now with Google, Facebook and soon Whatsapp and Amazon, the core display advertising is being hit and will continue to be under threat unless the publishers decide to wake up and take on these digital giants aggressively.


The biggest weakness of the digital medium is credibility and authenticity of source, which is still the biggest USP of print publishers.


The Indian audience tends to believe in the written word and hence print publishers need to use this advantage, innovate and add value to their offerings, using multiple platforms. It will be increasingly important for them to use the digital platform smartly and step into the revenue shares of the digital giants.


In a nutshell, learn to play the digital game and well.


Shailesh Amonkar has over three decades of building and managing sales teams. He has worked with The Times of India and Sakal Media Group in senior positions and is Founder CEO of Kemistry Media Solutions Pvt Ltd and co-founder of Webmag India Pvt. Ltd.

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