IRS Special: It's a losing battle for the highest-circulated publications

By Shreya Ukil , Wipro, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | December 29, 2009
The cliched approach of bidding for the highest-circulated, or read, publications is no longer popular

It's not only numbers any more, but the 'value quotient' ruling the arena of prudent and well-phased out advertising campaigns. Hence, 'cost-value analysis' is the ground rule for measuring advertising effectiveness. Thus, it could be rightly stated that the value of the publication, and not circulation or readership figures, should drive the advertising monies.

Consumers' readership habits play a pivotal role while selecting the routing medium. An apt example would be the employment of a leading English publication, having readership in all the major metros, for a product like fertilisers and pesticides. In this case, a more realistic approach would be to explore a regional publication.

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Ads have value only when they are able to convey the brand message competently to the precise target audiences. The typical approach of bombarding the masses leads to redundancy, as the plausibility of attracting and convincing the 'outer-ring' of the target market or the 'low-involvement segment' is low. It is imperative to understand target audiences and then cater to those requirements, rather than embarking on typical readership or circulation figures.

It is also crucial to identify the character and equity of the associating publication. Each has its own core brand image, rendering a character to the product or service advertised. Ads best represent the genre we live in and are idiosyncratic to our lifestyles. The content of the publication plays a decisive role in prioritising publications. Though two publications may testify same readership profiles, the probability of readers going back to a business magazine is low, compared to readers of a fashion magazine. Such publications are read for their flavour than the newsworthiness. I would say that the 'stickiness' of the magazine is another key to reaching the right quality of audiences with the right message.

Even the nature of the product or service advertised plays an important role in the choice of a publication. For instance, a publication with a longer shelf life will be an apt fit for travel and tourism advertisements, since readers of magazines have the option of going back and looking for details. And a soap ad would fit a daily or monthly publication.


The slowdown has been another significant factor that has checked prodigal marketing practices. Decision-makers are now inclined to think in terms of sustainability. Prioritising the value of the publications over its circulation or readership is the mantra. This economic hook has ensured further streamlining of media vehicles in terms of readers' profile versus reach - achieved by a well-designed and planned-out market research, which segregates markets based on age, gender, income, educational status or readership habits.

This will help read the pulse of our customer, while serving as an effective guide in the choice of the media outlet in reaching 'selective engagement', than segmenting the market into smaller pockets.

(The author is divisional marketing head, Wipro)