Newspapers should go for value addition to reclaim lost advertisement share

Newspapers should go for value addition to reclaim lost advertisement share
SS Kulkarni

Although India is one of the few countries where newspaper circulation continues to show signs of growth, especially in the regional language segment, the advertising revenue of print medium, newspapers and magazines has been declining in recent years as brands move to other competing platforms, such as television, web and radio. This trend is significant since the Indian newspaper industry still relies heavily on advertisements unlike the West where subscription revenue has surpassed advertising revenue. One of the ways Indian newspapers can compete with other media, bring back the advertisers and increase the share of advertising revenue is to add value to advertisements from the printing ink point of view. One advantage that works in favor of print is that all the different possibilities of value addition are unique to physical format, such as newspapers.

In one of the sessions during WAN-IFRA conference in Chennai, SS Kulkarni, general manager – technical, Huber Group, India said that this value addition can be done in three ways—by adding sensory effects to the print advertisement, improving the overall aesthetics of the print, and printing with eco-friendly products.

To enhance sensory effects, newspapers can use photochromatic effects in printed advertisements, add fragrance, use effects such as scratch and see, as well as wet and see. These special effects can go a long way in attracting the attention of readers. “All these effects can only be used in print media advertisements so the print media can maximize the advantage these offer,” Kulkarni said.

He, however, added that there are some technological limitations in fully adopting these effects due to the fact that web offset printing utilizes 4-Hi tower configurations and an additional fifth unit will be required to print these special effects. Also, the standard newsprint is rough and achieving special effects on this surface can be very difficult. This can be tackled by ways such as pasting pre-printed labels, screen printing on pre-printed papers. However, this add-on can be generally be done only on the front or outside pages of newspapers.

The second way of value addition is to improve aesthetics, which can be achieved by enhancing gloss and color. By using UV curable inks on lesser absorbent paper, a high gloss can be achieved. Using paper varieties such as LWC paper and GNP paper to print advertisements will help the reproduction of photo-realistic images and enhance advertisments in what becomes a kind of semi-commercial printing. This practices is already in place about a dozen newspaper groups in the country.

Newspapers can also add value to the advertisements by opting for eco-friendly products such as mineral-oil-free inks. Before the newspapers are recycled, the de-inking process results in the hazardous waste inks going into land fills, which is very harmful for the environment. By printing with mineral-oil-free inks, brands can become more eco-friendly and reduce their carbon footprint. Mineral oil free inks are 100% recyclable and after de-inking process, these inks can be used in fertilizers.


2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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