Exuding clear focus, drive and resilience, S Sivakumar, President, Revenue, BCCL, talks to us about the current Print industry scenario and the way forward…
Q] How would you rate the festive season ad spends for the Print industry, especially English publications?
The festive season is an important season for both advertisers and media owners. This is the time when consumer spending is at its peak and brands need to make an impact in the highly cluttered market. Print helps brands do just that – stand out of the crowd and be discovered. And amongst the dailies, English newspapers cater to the crème de la crème of society, which would account for maximum value offtake. Rightly so, English publications saw a volume growth of over 14% as compared to last year in the month preceding Diwali.
Q] Regional publications have been driving growth in the Print industry since the last few years. What, according to you, is the way forward?
The rising literacy rate in urban and semi-urban India has been a key driver in the rise of language publications. Over the past few years, the rising education levels have ensured that more and more people flock to the newspaper to get their daily dose of news and views. As the education levels in the country continue to rise, we expect readership to increase as well. And over time, given premiumisation and aspiration, this increased readership flows to English very naturally.
Q] What is the importance of readership pull and recall along with circulation numbers?
The latest IRS survey showed how in the last three years, Print has grown by 40% and added over 11 crore readers. This is on a very large base already, and brings the total number of Print readers to an all-time high of 41 crore readers, an audience which no advertiser can afford to ignore. Advertisers and agencies have to look at both readership and circulation numbers together to gauge the strength of a publication. We look forward to the next round of IRS, and hope that the study will be more robust and continue to demonstrate readership growth.
Q] How has the publication handled the newsprint price hike challenge so far?
The focus of The Times Group has always been to provide the best possible product to our readers and advertisers. Certain costs are known to be cyclical and we plan for the cyclical downsides. We have ensured there is no impact on our pagination nor on the quality of our newsprint, but we do recognise the need for the industry on the whole to be better compensated by our advertising partners in the longer term.
Q] What does the industry expect from advertisers and media agencies?
We have recently heard industry experts in multiple forums talk about the need to improve the quality of Print advertising. A key driver to response to an ad is the quality of the ad – in its ability to stand out and attract the consumer’s attention. As an industry leader, we have rolled out various initiatives to drive creativity in print – the Power of Print contest, innovation roadshows, taking learnings from Cannes Lions to marketers and documenting and circulating good Print ads through #AdsWeLove (creative ads every week). We have seen a great improvement in the quality of ad creatives in the last few months, but there is still a long way to go. I would also like to point out to media agencies that Print is growing both in readership and revenues. It has an important role to play in the journey of a brand and is still the medium consumers trust the most when it comes to advertising or news.
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