Ubaid Zargar

What’s driving growth for online publishers?

As content consumption sees a consistent upsurge, Comscore’s VP - Sales sketches an overview of the digital publishing market.

India’s digital news ecosystem is a discussion of caution, and consistent efforts for publishers. While the consumption of news in India has seen tremendous growth on digital, publishing portals aren’t the go-to platforms for users to access news. 

A recent report by Kantar, commissioned by Google, revealed that an average Indian language consumer employs more than 5 platforms to access news online, with YouTube (93%), social media (88%), Chat apps (82%), leading the charts.

However, the report also revealed that only 45% of the users discover news through news publishers’ websites or apps. Consequently, many of the news publishers have established their presence across these digital avenues. But what is generating the growth of publishers in digital?

Geet Lulla, who is the vice president (sales) and head, Asia Pacific, Comscore, gave an overview of the online publishing market in the 4th edition of Digipub World, hosted by afaqs!. 

In his solo session, Lulla explained the intricacies of online publishing business, while also highlighting the opportunities provided especially by social media. The session also delved into the metrics that determine the success of a publisher in its social media endeavours. 

Sharing some key findings from Comscore’s measurements, Lulla pointed out that the Indian users accounted for 424 billion hours of time spent on the internet, out of which 123 billion hours were spent on social media. 13 billion hours of this was spent on consuming news. 

“This is how much digital has grown in the last three years. In three years' time, where consumption has grown to almost 6 billion hours a month is massive."

Speaking on the opportunities provided by this digital growth, Lulla opines that action (from a consumer) speaks louder than impressions (generated on a piece of content). “Traditionally we’ve measured reach as a metric for success. But in digital, it is action and engagement that is important. The platforms provide us with that.”

With the kind of tools and measurement inventory that social media platforms provide publishers with, everything can be atomised to definitive numbers. This is especially important for brands that wish to drive action, and not just impressions, as per Lulla. 

Beyond measurements, there is also a need for publishers to act on the revelations made by the finds and calibrate their online footprint accordingly. 

While Lulla concedes that social media has taken traffic away from news publisher domains and apps, he believes that the change is only an opportunity for publishers to grow, and isn’t something that hasn’t happened before. The session also dissected social media as delivery channels, and discussed the opportunities that arise from it.

These opportunities include audience engagement, accurate cross-platform measurement, competition overview, and monetisation. 

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