On the first day of the Indian Magazine Congress 2010 being held in Mumbai, Mahesh Murthy, founder -- Pinstorm and managing partner -- Seedfund discussed the way forward for print magazines, and how they could monetize the digital medium to their advantage.
Considering the nature of digital medium, he said that there is no scope for mass products in the digital space. Only a niche product, and not a mass one, could survive in the highly interactive medium. He added that there is a need to prioritize and place news differently from the competition.
"Digital has the capability of monetizing stories for a longer period, as compared to print versions. And they have a longer life. An article read today can be referred to by readers on the digital medium again after some time." He gave the example of websites such as India Today, Outlook and afaqs! -- of which afaqs! had the highest number of visitors -- to emphasize that the need of the hour, as far as digital is concerned, is going niche.
Citing an example of a publication, he said that the weekly adopted the medium perfectly to promote its stories. The publication, instead of opting for print or TV advertisements, took a different approach. The magazine hits the stands every Friday; so, on Tuesdays, it would brief the agency about its forthcoming cover story. Through Wednesday and Thursday, the agency would create a film based on the brief, and on Thursday, the film would be uploaded on Youtube.com. This helped the publication create curiosity and increase its sales.
According to Murthy, publishers also need to avoid relying on cost per lead (CPL). Citing the example of Channel V and its official website, he said that the group bundled the two mediums together, and it fetched them good revenues. "Avoid selling mediums separately; instead bundle them all (TV, online and on-ground) and present them nicely," he advised.
He pointed out that though revenues in print may be higher than in other mediums at the gross level; but in reality, they are much lower, once paper, packaging and printing costs are considered.
Another important aspect in the digital arena is the search engine. Searches are the precursor to actual content; if the publisher can understand what is being searched live at that moment and find ways to monetize it, he/she can create a great product.