The second session on the last day of the Indian Magazine Congress 2010, was titled 'What advertisers want from magazines'. The session was moderated by Tarun Rai, CEO Worldwide Media; while the panellists comprised Ashish Bhasin, chairman India and CEO south East Asia -- Aeigs Group; Debasis Mitra, director marketing and sales, Mercedes-Benz; LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research; Lynn de Souza, chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group; and R Gowthaman, managing director, Mindshare.
"With many new luxury magazines coming into the country, we are in a good place. And with iPad and other digital devices making inroads, the magazine industry is able to reach out to a larger, younger set of audience. However, the challenge is to persuade the advertisers and take the growth rate of magazines, which is at 4 percent presently, to 8 per cent in the near future," he said.
He asked Mitra of Mercedes-Benz about the percentage of ad spends that his company allots to magazines in general.
Mitra replied that around 60-65 per cent goes to ATL activities, and magazines form around 10 per cent of the spends. "There is a huge responsibility of delivering. We have to see the ROI which is tangible, and not what we think might be the best," said Mitra.
"When we launched our own magazine recently, we realized the problems that are faced by other magazines. But when we go to an advertiser, we tell them that we have a strong database of 20,000 high-end customers, with their present addresses and phone numbers and other vital details, as they (the customers) come to us for the service of their cars. So, I think the right reach of a magazine is very important -- a young, promising corporate might also fall in the high-net worth category, but will he have the capability to buy my product, is what needs to be answered by the publishers," he explained.
Talking about the constant comparisons drawn between the ad spends going to TV, newspapers and magazines, Gowthaman said that the magazine industry should not be defensive about other mediums. "Rather, focus on the fact that magazines have a completely different role to play," he advised.
He also said that the issue faced by advertisers and planners is that there is no push or pull from the publishers. "Magazines are not as aggressive as they should be in selling the medium to us. Similarly, a significant amount of our time is spent on chasing TV spots; and we don't get time to look beyond numbers. So, there is a need to bring forth a clutter-breaking 'Big Idea' to the table," said Gowthaman.
Moving on to Krishnan of TAM Media Research, Rai asked, "What should be the measurement mechanism that magazines need to adopt?" Saying that although all metrics have their limitations, a well-defined metrics needs to be in place; Krishnan, however, expressed his opposition towards forming a new currency for magazines. "It will be disastrous and will serve no purpose. Magazines need to realise that when TV can adopt its format and command good budgets from the advertisers, why can't magazines utilise their strength (which is the format) and create huge revenues? A little effort from magazines will definitely yield results."
Rai then asked Bhasin, "How can media agencies be persuaded to consider qualitative aspects of the magazine, rather than just numbers?"
Bhasin replied, "Over the years, magazines have become less passionate about the product. In the interim, publishers need to get the passion and not gimmicks. Magazines have great wealth and just need to be marketed well." He added that today, most media planners and buyers, to an extent, are dependent on data. "But if magazines come up with a big idea that can change things, they will all lap it up."
Touching upon another aspect of the issue, de Souza stressed on the need for magazines to adapt digital media seamlessly for better ROIs. "Publishers can bundle the digital and print versions properly. And back it up with an idea that necessitates the use of all platforms and engages the audience. Advertisers will definitely opt for it." She added, "Whatever activity is done by a magazine for a sponsor should be measured after it is over, and the results should be shared with the agency. It will help build faith in the product."