Media houses’ representatives discussed advertiser concerns during the afaqs! Publishers’ Forum organised in association with MGID.
With the might of the digital space continuing to rise exceptionally in India, brand presence in the digital environs is also expanding. With this expansion, the concerns of brand safety among marketers is also increasing. With this the practice of protecting a brand's reputation by not associating with unsafe content online has become a primary concern for brands.
Various media house heads recently got together at Publishers’ Forum, organised by afaqs! in association with MGID, to discuss the brand safety problem.
The participants included:
Bharat Gupta, CEO, Jagran New Media
Hemant Jain, president & business head digital, Lokmat Media
Kunal Singla, business head, Amarujala
Mitesh Desai, head - agency partnerships & sales excellence, HT Media
Mukesh Singh, head - revenue, Indian Express Group
Ritu Kapur, co-founder & MD, The Quint
Rohit Chadda, president & COO - digital business, Times Network
Samarth Sharma, chief business officer, Asianet News
Tapan Sharma, EVP & business head - digital, Republic World
Sara Buluggiu, VP - publisher business development, MGID
Pankaj Sharma, CEO & director, MGID India
All the participants acknowledged the fact that in the digital space, a media house as well as a social media influencers, can be classified as content creators. However, with media houses, the distinction lies with the type of content that is put out by the advertisers. This type of content can include reportage of certain tragedies that may be deemed as unsafe by advertisers.
According to Jain of Lokmat Media, the core fundamentals of a media house operating in the digital space, remain constant.
“The core fundamentals lie around the content, community and various monetisation ways. The center of my business, is my customer. As a news publisher, my first responsibility is towards my own brand. You have to be on the top of the type of ads that are being served on your platform.”
As a news publisher, my first responsibility is towards my own brand. You have to be on the top of the type of ads that are being served on your platform.Hemant Jain, president & business head digital, Lokmat Media
Chadda from Times Network said that the publishers are also the brands, and their consumers trust them for the information, content and news they host.
“Many adtech players have lost that perspective. Advertisers generally say that they don’t want to be associated with bad news. For any news which reports incidences of gore, crime, etc., monetisation gets off on social media platforms. If you look at newspapers, you rarely see 'good news' but there are ads all around the paper."
For any news which reports incidences of gore, crime, etc., monetisation gets off on social media platforms. If you look at newspapers, you rarely see 'good news' but there are ads all around the paper.Rohit Chadda, president & COO - digital business, Times Network
Pankaj Sharma from MGID opined that while the content and operations for media houses on print medium is highly regulated, there is less control over the type of stories on digital medium.
As we are talking about comparing offline, basically print, with digital, print is highly regulated. Digital there is not much of a control. Only the big publishers those are the ones which are controlled. We are not ready to invest in technology that monitors the digital space as strongly and that leads to problems.Pankaj Sharma, CEO and Director, MGID India
Buluggiu also added that while digital space is growing, there aren't much regulations around the publisher and brand advertisers interactions.
Digital is expected to exceed in control, in miseration, etc., because we promise that we can measure everything on digital and we have full control. That is a misleading promiseSara Buluggiu, VP - publisher business development, MGID
Jain added, “Today, we’re not just talking about cost per lead, but also cost per acquisition and cost per daily feed.”
The number of digital publishers in India is quite high. The Quint’s Kapur said that today, there are many similarities in the content offered on the Internet. It’s a tough phase for digital publishing.
“Our audience is quite young. We need to figure out how our content is relevant to our audience as well as brand advertisers, while keeping honest to our mission statement.”
Digital has given us deeper nuances into who our audiences are, what they are consuming and how they are consuming content.Ritu Kapur, co-founder & MD, The Quint
Desai shared that HT Media worked on building its audience and advertiser base, while keeping these nuances in mind.
“HT had an advantage, as it was already a well-known brand when it was building its digital platform. We’ve invested significantly in building up our own audience ecosystem.”
We’re traditional publishers, so we’ve got a wide reach with advertisers. We don’t really get questions about brand safety from advertisers.Mitesh Desai, head - agency partnerships & sales excellence, HT Media
Amarujala’s Singla said that brand safety follows the definition that the advertisers have in mind.
We need to create a common solution to identify what brand safety means for an advertiser.Kunal Singla, business head, Amarujala
Meanwhile, Singh from Indian Express Group doesn’t think that ‘programmatic advertising’ is the solution for brand safety. While it’s gaining popularity, the safety of a news piece on the basis of keywords, may not be the way forward.
“Multiple filters are levied on this type of marketing. It can mislead advertisers, who are searching for brand safety. Most things get chosen by the advertisers, when it comes to programmatic advertising. We don’t have much of a control there.”Mukesh Singh, head - revenue, Indian Express Group
Talking about the way forward, Republic World’s Sharma said that mining first party data to identify consumer trends, has become essential for digital publishers.
It takes a lot of investment to build first party data. And, further management of that kind of database, requires more financial assets.Tapan Sharma, EVP & business head - digital, Republic World
Adding to this, Sharma from Asianet News added that this could be a big positive for the publishers who are in direct competition with the big tech players.
In our experience, developing technology to understand our own users could be a point that is a big gap between publishers and big tech players. Another irony is that while advertisers enter this space with an expectation of knowing exactly who their target audience is when it coomes to associating with a platform, the big tech players operate much in a black box.Samarth Sharma, chief business officer, Asianet News
When it comes to digital, India, as an industry, is quite young.
Many advertisers are baffled by this disruption. Right now, investing in building solid direct sales teams is a must because nobody is going to do your leg workBharat Gupta, CEO, Jagran New Media