It's been a year since the Metro project from Mid Day Multimedia took off, and already the Mumbai-based group has six locality-specific editions to its credit. The latest to roll out from its stable is the Mulund edition, catering specifically to the needs of people located in this northeastern suburb of Mumbai. "When starting Metro, we did consider the fact that we would need to build on infrastructure that was quickly scaleable," says Arindam Mitra, director, operations, Mid Day Multimedia.
The Mulund edition, launched on October 26, 2002, comes close on the heels of the Borivli launch, which happened in August this year. Both editions are distributed on Saturdays. The group had earlier launched Metro Chembur (distributed on Wednesdays) in addition to Bandra (on Fridays), Ghatkopar (on Tuesdays) and Lokhandwala-Versova (on Thursdays) - all suburbs in Mumbai. Also in the offing are Metro Malad (to be launched on November 20, 2002) and Metro Vashi.
The 16-page Mulund edition is positioned as a standalone community paper as opposed to a localised supplement inserted in the main edition of a daily, an example being the 'Plus'-es with The Times of India, such as the Westside Plus, Downtown Plus or Thane Plus, among others.
Metro Mulund is packed with news pertaining to that locality with a fair amount of editorial contribution from the community. Distributed freely to the residents of the locality, it is this participative nature of the paper, coupled with a strong skew towards content that sets Metro apart from the rest. The November 2 to 8, 2002, issue of Metro Mulund for instance has articles such as 'Get set for pujas and parties', 'No pataka, no dhamaka for shopkeepers' or 'Mulund's little swimming star' among others that make for an interesting read.
Home to a sizeable Gujarati population, Mulund has a strong cultural and educational heritage besides being a shopper's paradise. With such a vibrant community life, it is no surprise that there is much that the Mulund edition can draw from. Incidentally, this is a characteristic shared by the other Metro papers as well, leaving the in-house editorial team with no dearth of issues to write on.
"We keep a close check on quality," reiterates Mitra. "With the news team functioning in a hub and spoke manner," he adds. Each Metro area has two full-time correspondents reporting on developments in that region with the central desk or hub, comprising six to seven members and an editor coordinating the entire process."
Door-to-door delivery accounts for 15,000 to 16,000 copies of the 20,000-odd copies printed. The balance is kept at leading retail outlets in the locality, with all Mid Day vendors operating in that area also carrying some additional papers. "Distribution is handled by the logistics team called Mid Day Direct," explains Mitra. "Supervision is carried out by the existing readership development team," he adds.
However, the most important aspect of the entire Metro project is its ability to tap the local advertising market. According to TAM ADEX, the overall retail display advertising in press in Mumbai is Rs 15-16 crore per year. Add to this an amount of Rs 60 crore earned from classifieds, and you roughly have a figure of Rs 75 crore as the overall value of local advertising in print in Mumbai. Mid Day itself pegs the size of the local advertising market at a whopping Rs 325 crore, implying that much needs to be done to tap this fertile region.
But the twist in the tale is the fact that the group is not looking at the 'ultra' local advertiser; in other words, the local grocer or shopkeeper who does not want to go beyond the confines of his premises or marketplace. "They do not have the money," avers Mitra. Typically, advertisers in the Metro include pubs, health clubs, fitness centres, coaching or tuition classes - establishments who have the money, but don't have the budget to get into a Mid Day. Thus, the advertising rates in the Metro are much lower. It is Rs 100 per column-centimetre of space for a black and white ad and Rs 175 for a colour ad. In comparison, in Mid Day the rates are Rs 550 per cc for b/w and Rs 750 per cc for colour.
"We are stressing that this (Metro) is a quality product, at an affordable rate, that reaches 20,000 (per edition) SEC A consumers, " Mitra had stated in an earlier interview to agencyfaqs!.
Some analysts feel Mid Day's Metro venture is an intelligent move. Reiterates a senior media planner based in Mumbai, "This is the route that print guys need to adopt to counter radio, which is going local big time." Currently, radio accounts for 2 per cent of the overall ad pie in India with print accounting for another 12 per cent.
The biggest advantage of advertising in Metro is its ability to target the local populace, implying that reach is focused, impactful and ROI or return on investment is faster. Says a print media planner, "For an advertiser who wants to limit himself to a particular area, Metro is a good option because it targets people in the vicinity unlike Mid Day, for instance, which travels to every part of Mumbai, defeating the intent of the advertiser."
Mid Day's advertising-led model for Metro is not the easiest to sustain though. Says a media researcher based in Mumbai, "No doubt Mid Day is building reach through this exercise; but how long will it survive on advertising revenue? Eventually, it would have to charge the product to break even, and it is not easy to convince consumers to pay for something that they assume is free. Moreover, with other media vehicles such as a morning paper as well as an eveninger available for consumption, there is a trade-off in the process, which won't benefit either of the three. People will fluctuate between the three products (morning paper, eveninger and Metro edition), resulting in greater fragmentation."
Despite such concerns, Mid Day's Metro project moves on with more locality-specific papers lined up for launch. © 2002 agencyfaqs!