Co-existence of digital and print

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | November 01, 2012
The presence of the two platforms competing for the same content has been in discussions since the time the digital medium came into the picture. The summit gave way to discussions on the global front.

While the world debates on the decline of print due to the impact of the internet and the decline of the internet due to the rise of the mobile, a few publications took to analysis of the best possible models for the co-existence of the print and digital platforms.

At the Digital Innovation Summit 2012 organised by INMA, publications from across the globe were invited to discuss the pros and cons of the digitisation of print (news) content. Among the speakers at the session was Pit Gottschalk, director, content management, Axel Springer, Berlin, Germany, who discussed, 'How does publishing house Axel Springer meet the challenges of the digital era?'.

Pit Gottschalk

His presentations delved into the three strengths of the publishing house - content, classifieds and marketing/advertising. He talked about his brand, BILD.

Benez, advertising director, Folha de S Paulo, Brazil gave a detailed version on 'Where digital solutions fit in the multi-media advertising mix'. His presentation delved into the revenue and innovations required to connect with the customers and advertisers.

Beginning his presentation, Gottschalk said that digital transformation has created a multimedia-integrated publishing concern with more than 140 online products. Way before the digital world was seen positively, the company added digitisation to its strategy as an integral part in 2001.

The internationalisation of the brand, as per Gottschalk, concentrated on the three major geographies, including CEE, Western Europe and BRIC. He mentioned that the three core strengths of the publishing network have always been content, brands, and target audiences, classifieds and marketing/advertising. Content here includes infotainment, news, regional, TV, auto, electronics, gaming, women, sports, youth/music and finance; and classified ads include real estate, job markets and automotive.

By adding brands in these categories, he said, the company has grown both organically and through acquisitions. The company's goal has always been to be the No. 1 in the market, or at least the best No. 2. Out of the total 47.49 million users of the publishing house, 13.59 million are online users, he revealed.

BILD, he said, believed in the philosophy that one should never forget where one came from - and it came from the content business. Hence, BILD has always been using classic newspaper strategies to monetise. Gottschalk claimed that Axel Springer succeeded in reaching 41 per cent of all French internet users because market cultivation was done through three core strengths of content, classifieds and advertising.

In Europe, Axel Springer is the leading publishing house with a reach of 59.1 million, while Schibsted follows with 35.5 million visitors. BBC stands at No. 3 with 34 million visitors.

Gottschalk revealed that the contribution to total revenue by the digital platform has increased from 11.7 per cent in 2007 to 48.7 per cent in 2011.

Marcelo Benez

Benez from Brazilian newspaper house Folha De S Paulo started off by asserting that as the world goes digital, 'futurology' will concentrate on the print+digital platforms (that is, co-existence).

He spoke about the transition from newspaper to newsmedia. Brazil, he said, was the sixth most populated country, with about 200 million population and 252 million active cell phone users. The Brazilian advertising market, too, has grown from 7.7 billion dollars to 28.4 billion dollars over the years from 1999 to 2011.

The daily paid circulation of the newspapers in the country has grown from 3.5 million to 4.5 million in the last 10 years and that 4.5 million is the largest number in the last 50 years.

However, television (64.8 per cent) gets the largest share from the ad investment pie in the country, followed by newspapers (11.7 per cent) and then, magazines (6.1 per cent), he said.

He said that the 90-year old publication house Folha Group merged its three newspapers to launch Folha De S Paulo in 1960.

Benez mentioned that a news media company must always be ready to deliver news and services through various formats - text, audio and video. Hence, content must be sent to all the platforms where the user is present, including internet, mobile and tablets. This convergence, he said, was embraced by the Folha Group with many different innovations which were useful for both the advertisers as well as the publishing house. For example, the newspapers were launched in the HTML5 format for the digital platform.

However, the journey, he said, taught the group that quality is non-negotiable. The subscription, he said, increased as and when there were new launches in the digitisation of content. After the launch of the HTML5 version, the subscriptions increased by 89.81 per cent, while after the launch of the new digitised version, it grew by 253 per cent.

He mentioned that the important methods to maintain and increase the revenues of the company include exclusive online ads, cross media ads and multi-platform special projects.

He concluded his presentation by highlighting three major lessons of the publishing house - to break the paradigms, be where the readers are and offer the advertisers whatever they need.

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