POV: Has print media finally opened up to innovation?

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 11, 2012
In the recent past, there have been vibrating newspapers and those that smell of coffee on one day and perfume on another. Have innovative creative ideas in print come of age?

Has the dull, static, two-dimensional print ad finally made way for more innovative, entertaining and eyeball-grabbing creatives? afaqs! speaks to experts from different backgrounds.

Shantanu Bhanja
Vice-president, marketing, HT Media

Given that print is an impact medium, it is but natural that the medium has always been at the forefront of innovation.

Shantanu Bhanja

Manisha Lath Gupta

S Yesudas

Vishnu Srivatsav

There was an in-between phase when 'innovation' in print ended up meaning 'just stand out at any cost'. Beyond a point, this only meant disruption of the reader's normal reading habit.

More recently, however, brands have started to capitalise on the fact that print is a medium that the reader interacts and engages with. And that it is a medium that enters people's living room. With that, the innovations have become more interesting, engaging and memorable.

This progression has required brand teams and publications to come together and co-create, to ideate and integrate the brand's objectives into the reading habit, best leveraging the capabilities of modern-day printing and handling technology.

Manisha Lath Gupta
Chief marketing officer, Axis Bank

While the print medium was always open to innovation, it is only now that people - including marketing and advertising teams - are really stretching themselves and coming up with some good ideas.

Marketers have realised that to break clutter on any medium, one needs to be innovative. We've done it on television, then on the outdoor medium and, now, are doing it in print as well.

However, I do think there is a difference between creativity and innovation. Just doing things because they are creative is not good enough. It also needs to give RoI (return on investment) and show some results. One should not lose sight of that. So it is important to be focused on innovation and not just on creativity.

In today's extremely cluttered market, if you're not innovative, you don't get any eyeballs.

S Yesudas
MD, Indian subcontinent, Vizeum

There are two kinds of innovations. The first consists of efforts that will benefit the media brands' consumers, drive in newer audiences for the owner and deliver on the advertised brand.

When an English newspaper expands into regional markets, there exist clear opportunities to grow the market through such marketing models rather than fight for passive advertising share. These are, perhaps, financially less rewarding in the shorter team, but will pay off in the longer term.

Secondly, gimmicks that are packaged as 'innovation' don't add any value to anyone, barring the media owner and agency. Print as a medium can still boast of loyal consumers, who don't buy a newspaper because its pages vibrate now and then. Print owners must use opportunities to reward their loyal consumers and advertisers.

Vishnu Srivatsav
Executive creative director, Grey

Yes and No. Yes, technology has caught up with newspapers and the newspaper today is capable of doing so much more.

However, having said that, it's a limited list and the moment an innovation is used by a brand, it's immediately obsolete and of very little utility to other brands. Also, I believe that - in the quest for innovation - the content of the ad itself takes a back seat.

Yes, many of us remember the Talking Newspaper, but how many of us remember what it said? It would be interesting to find out how many recall what it said. Which leads me to the conclusion that 'Yes, newspaper advertising has become more innovative, but not more interesting.'

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