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By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | March 11, 2010
As the newspaper industry struggled to keep up advertising revenues during difficult times; various strategies to fuel growth in difficult times were discussed at the INMA workshop

The recent economic slowdown made media, whether electronic or print, vulnerable to a certain extent; the print media suffered especially, as newspapers witnessed a steep fall in advertising revenues. At the INMA workshop held at Mayfair Banquets in Mumbai on March 10, panellists discussed about 'How to manage growth applying various strategies in difficult times'.

& #BANNER1 & #The two panellists were: Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia and Emerging Market Leader, Starcom Mediavest Group; Andrey Purushottam, CEO, Mumbai Mantra and Chairman, Media Research Users Council.

Ravi Kiran started the discussion by suggesting that one should always focus on ideas that work for the customer. There are innovative ways to provide solutions; the best example being Jet Airways Konnect. To cope during the recession, Jet Airways introduced Jet Airways Konnect -- a low-cost brand that provided 40 per cent lower rates to customers. And the strategy worked for the airline.

Kiran posed a question to the audience: Should one sell one's own inventory? He further stated that the internet medium used a third party to sell inventories. Also, one could create identities that never existed before, for example, Indian Premier League. The idea of IPL was non-existent until two years ago; and now, it has created a revolution by charging Rs 10 lakh for a 10-second slot.

He opined that media is more about assets than inventories. He cited an arrangement made with the TV network to use their programming people for ideation; hence, saving money for the client. He quoted the example of STAR Plus, which promoted Aircel in a unique manner.

Andrey Purushottam said that the client's perspective matters a lot, as does the product type. Brands such as Nirma and Lifebuoy need the medium of TV, rather than print, to communicate their message to the masses.

He added that the lifecycle of products plays an important role, because it decides whether it's a launch or a re-launch of that product. Even in the process of re-launch, he explained, there are two levels of renovation -- major and minor. If a dirt remover performs the role of a stain remover, then it has gone for a major renovation; but brands such as Lux, Rin and Surf always comes under the minor renovation category.

According to Purushottam, The Times of India, Hindustan Times and Dainik Bhaskar are huge brands; and a collaborative effort, rather than competition, will help these brands sustain in the market for long. Talking about mobiles, he said that they became a rage only after the pricing became affordable for the common man.

Purushottam touched upon a sensitive subject, by saying that the biggest problem is the readership. Today's youth is involved in watching television, rather than reading; so the idea should be to create interest towards reading amongst the younger generation.

He clearly stated that the real market lies in the vernacular space, as the regional brands can be identified by the Tier II and III cities. He added that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) would drive the boom in the next few years. Citing Google's example, he said, the real breakthrough happened when Google got advertising revenues. With Sponsored Links on Google, one can see how the lines between editorial and advertising have blurred.

Purushottam spoke about a campaign that was advertised in The Times of India and Economic Times simultaneously, but the latter received a better response than the former, irrespective of the readership fact. Indian Premier League charges three to four times than the normal rates, he said; but the response is almost seven to eight times better. So, in the end, rates never become a constraint.

He concluded that all print owners must collect data to understand the real market position. Ideas are not easy to implement; but one needs to find answers to maintain clients. One needs to innovate to get hold of readers.