ppi Media looks at smaller newspapers and vernacular dailies in India

Self service advertising systems at VRM Anna.
Self service advertising systems at VRM Anna.

A recent discussion with Dr Thomas Müller-Lupp and Hemant Kumar of ppi Media in Delhi brought to light the company’s focus on the Indian market. The Hamburg-based publishing, advertising and production software supplier already has nine newspaper customers in India. Müller-Lupp and Kumar also made us aware that ppi has recently installed its new self-service ad booking system at a German media group. The new B2B and B2C ad portal is called AdSelf and integrates easily with newspapers that are already using SAP-MIS Media solutions.

While ppi Media’s first users in India in 2002 were the big English dailies, the company now has nine users for its production suite. It also has one large user that uses its systems for both ad production and page planning. The systems integrated with the ERP and MIS systems are very reliable. As Dr. Müller-Lupp says about the ad booking and page planning system, “If an ad is booked it will be printed, and if it’s printed it will be billed.”

Nevertheless, the company is now looking to offer more its front-end solutions and also aiming at the smaller Indian newspaper groups, particularly the vernacular dailies. Last summer it installed a complete solution for The Printers Mysore Group that publishes the Deccan Herald in English and Prajavani in Kannada, which are dailies in addition to other periodicals.

Apart from the back-end production functions, the Deccan Herald-Prajavani installation that has been in place for the past 11 months includes ppi’s Content X editorial system for both print and multichannel broadcast. A key feature of this system is that editors can work on page on the Content X web browser itself, obviating the need for multiple copies of InDesign in the editorial newsroom. Since ppi Media is so well known for its back-end systems, the challenge Müller-Lupp says is “to make our customers aware that we provide a single content hub for full multi-channel editorial systems as well.”

The ppi Media team for India — Hemant Kumar and Dr. Thomas Müller-Lupp
The ppi Media team for India — Hemant Kumar and Dr. Thomas Müller-Lupp

New self-service ad portal AdSelf goes live at VRM
The German regional media house VRM, based in Mainz and publisher of several publications including the Allgemeine Zeitung and Darmstädter Echo, is the first media company to use ppi Media’s new self-service ad portal called AdSelf. Developed in close cooperation with the company, for its service VRM Anna, the browser-based solution offers end-customers and readers a convenient way to book ads in the publishing group’s publications, also allowing them to use mobile devices.

AdSelf is a new self-service portal for ads that is particularly suitable for publishers who work with the SAP IS-M/AM commercial ad booking system. While this itself is a large number, other ad booking systems can also be integrated if required.

Optimized for B2B and B2C
The HTML5-based portal is responsive – meaning that it is also suitable to be used on mobile devices. Templates are easy to handle and the solution’s GUI design by an experienced interface designer ensures that using the portal will be particularly simple for end users. AdSelf can be used both by private customers and by professional users at service partners, who realize their customers’ orders via the portal.

Thanks to compatible templates, the solution also offers upselling options by suggesting alternative ad presentations. This way, end customers are able to book their individually designed ads quickly and easily in different categories – from the classified ad to the family ad. AdSelf also includes a function to have the booked ads checked by the publisher’s back office.

NA Mahamed Ismail sharing his experiences at the ppi Open Day in Kiel. Deccan Herald and Prajavani dailies have been using ppi’s Content X editorial systems for the past 11 months.
NA Mahamed Ismail sharing his experiences at the ppi Open Day in Kiel. Deccan Herald and Prajavani dailies have been using ppi’s Content X editorial systems for the past 11 months.

Open interfaces
ppi Media’s service is based on an open architecture, meaning that not only the ad booking system but also a publisher’s user administration and their payment solution can be integrated with great ease. AdSelf is a white label solution, which means that it can be integrated perfectly into a company’s corporate identity. AdSelf was developed in cooperation with the VRM and the portal has now gone live on www.vrm-anna.de: “We are delighted to be able to offer our customers and readers a new, innovative ad portal; the development phase in cooperation with ppi Media was extremely successful. The portal has only been live for four weeks and we can already see a tendency for increased revenue,” says Katrin Hube, head of Central Services at the VRM Media Sales GmbH.

The VRM group reaches more than one million readers and has a circulation of more than 320,000 copies. Its dailies in the Rhine-Main area include the Allgemeine Zeitung, the Wiesbadener Kurier and the Darmstädter Echo, while the Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung and the Gießener Anzeiger are among their publications in the middle Hessian newspaper market. In contact with almost 2 million unique users across the company and reaching roughly half a million social media users, the company has one of the widest-reaching networks of all regional media houses in Germany.

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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