The first day of the INMA Conference in Aerocity near the Delhi Airport has been quite good so far. However, those who are more threatened by the future or touching low growth in the 3 to 5% range, such as the major English dailies in the country, are clearly adapting faster. One could see, at least from a couple of presentations made at the conference, that the largest new group in the country and the largest English daily The Times of India has been the most active in creating many internet properties and platforms, and has also tried many of the recipes to bring the future closer.
However, many of the language dailies, especially the Hindi dailies operating from the northern part of the country, still seem confident about the headroom that they see for print circulation growth. My view is that they are unfortunately not as intensely evolving or adapting to the future as they may need to, in order to survive. Nevertheless, the Indian news organizations are changing and maturing, and so is the technology that could help them transform themselves into multi-channel content platforms—the future of analytics and real-time content and response beckons, and to a large extent the conference brings together some of the best talent in the industry.
The fairly large audience from more than 20 news and content organizations and platforms consisted of about 175 brand and project managers, digital and marketing officers, senior editorial personnel and a number of CEOs. News organizations, analysts and platforms from Bangladesh, Fiji, Singapore, Indonesia and China are also taking part.
Rajiv Verma, chief executive officer of HT Media group, shares some hard truths at the Annual INMA South Asia Conference in Delhi, on 10 August 2017. Pawan Agarwal, deputy managing director Dainik Bhaskar on right
D Shivakumar, chief executive officer of Pepsico India, set the conference in motion with key insights on what new organizations must face in terms of external realities and their own adaptability. Shivakumar’s presentation highlighted the five imperatives to create the news organization of the future—Trust, Talent, Technology, Teamwork, and Time. He wisely pointed out that while trust, talent, teamwork and time will cost more and come at a premium, the cost of technology is in fact declining. According to him, “The premium on holding on to talent will be so great that that they must be treated as volunteers whose interests coincide with those of a project or organization for a given period of time.” He advocated small teams that are fluid—multi-generational and with diverse backgrounds—ready to compromise and to play any position. He cited the example of Johan Cruyff’s invention of total football where constant movement and passing means that even a defender can come to the front and score.
Sharing his insights on technology, Shivakumar said that technology will continue to make everything context based while helping the individual integrate the environment, which is full of noise—there is too much data and too little insight. There were several other excellent presentations and panel discussions on the first day that addressed the key issue of evolution and adaptation. It was telling that several of the senior leaders in news organizations were frank about the difficulty of change. Rajiv Verma, chief executive officer of HT Media group admitted, “As an industry we have failed our clients in terms of response…. We do not know our customers.” He added, “We are bringing very little value addition to our advertisers and the only way to overcome this by a legacy media company is by embedding analytics or data in our platforms.”
The INMA Conference is a market-leading event designed to capture strategic best practices and the practicalities of newspaper advertising sales for newspaper executives from leading companies in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and others interested in this region. The two-day conference, 10-11 August, is being held at Aerocity near Delhi Airport.
Note: Watch this space for our continuing coverage of the INMA South Asia conference and look for the complete report on all the presentations in our September print issue, which will will feature our 7th Annual 50 Fastest Growing Newspapers of India in time for the WAN-IFRA Conference in Chennai.