Print media is growing; will print advertising follow?

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | May 15, 2017
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Marketers are not surprised but say they are looking forward to the IRS numbers.

Few days back the Audit Bureau of Circulation released a report on print media: Over the last 10 years, the average number of copies circulated per day grew from 3.91 crore to 6.28 crore. Print, during this period, has grown at 4.87 per cent CAGR.

Will the new ABC figures tempt brand marketers to advertise more in print? And why does print continue to grow in India?

Edited Excerpts.

Siddharth Banerjee, executive vice president, marketing, Vodafone India

Siddharth Banerjee

Print has traditionally been a strong medium in India. Vodafone has invested in print in specific campaigns, whenever it is relevant to the target audience and the marketing objectives.

Given that Vodafone has a number of different target segments, irrespective of ABC, we always evaluate all media and arrive at a mix which is most effective for the segment we are looking to target.

In India, print growth is primarily driven by regional newspapers which have a strong readership base across smaller town classes. While in larger markets there is a shift in habit from newspapers to news apps and e-newspapers, smaller markets are still newspaper-heavy.

We also need to recognise that different media measurement sources always tend to reflect different numbers. The next round of the IRS is expected soon and it will be interesting to see whether it reflects a similar growth story in terms of readership.

Sumeet Narang, vice president, marketing, Bajaj Auto

Sumeet Narang

The growth in print as a medium can certainly be ascribed to increasing literacy and aggressive penetration marketing by publishers. The fact that the highest growth has come from the North, which also has had the lowest literacy levels, is testimony to this. Beyond this, it is difficult to generalise without a deeper analysis of this growth and to comment on whether it's due to any change (or lack thereof!) in consumption behaviour.

The role of print as an advertising medium has evolved from 'product information' to 'best deals' and 'what's new'. It seems to be most effective, albeit at a pretty high cost, if you are looking at instant awareness and action. In recent times, a lot of marketing spends have been dominated by emerging, new businesses, pushing new products or offers. Print is likely to attract advertising revenue in such situations. Print also benefits combating advertisers, who tend to get more reactive.

At Bajaj Auto, our marketing focus is on differentiating our brands. Our spending plans are influenced more by our brand and business priorities. I don't foresee a change in approach because of this new data. We never had any false notions that print was a dying medium.

Mayank Shah, category head, Parle Products

Mayank Shah

A durables marketer will look at the recently released numbers. But these numbers are not surprising. As literacy increases in India, we will see an increase in print circulation and readership. The numbers are fine and expected.

What I would also like to see is the readership numbers. While planning, I would not look at the circulation numbers in isolation. How much of this is genuine is the bigger question. If we look at the numbers closely, we'll see that the circulation numbers are ahead of readership numbers. So, are you trying to tell me one person is reading three or four copies of the same newspaper? Definitely not.

There are several ways to tweak the circulation numbers. So one needs to look at both the metrics to make the statement 'Print is growing significantly in India'. Overall, these ABC numbers won't influence me to change my plans.

Neelima Burra, chief marketing officer, country head, Olive Oil, Cargill India

Neelima Burra

Circulation is likely to continue its growth in tier II and III towns, which are major consumption markets for sectors like FMCG, retail, e-commerce and automobile. Surely the growth in circulation will encourage advertisers to spend more on print, depending on the strategy. We also need to look at the new publications that are being launched.

Currently, tier II and III markets are 'focus consumption centres'. Print continues to grow because of the following factors - expanding reach of FMCG players, automobile companies going rural, growth of online sales, and growth of desktops and smartphones in rural markets.

(With inputs from Anirban Roy Choudhury)

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