Video peaks, revenues stagnant!

WAN IFRA Digital Media India 2020

WAN-IFRA Digital Media India
Puneet Gupt, chief operating officer of Times Internet at WAN IFRA Digital Media India 2020. Photo IPP

At the 9th WAN-IFRA Digital Media India 2020 at Holiday Inn in New Delhi, Puneet Gupt, the chief operating officer of Times Internet shed light on the news genre as an attractive media for advertisers. He also touched on the challenges in digital advertising and ways to maximize the advertizing revenue pie in the sky.

Viewership plays a vital role in driving advertising revenue. “Display is just 25% of the total digital revenue. A large chunk of revenue comes from social media and paid search where publishers like us are not significant players. That leaves just display and videos for us to make amends to our business models. I’m sure many of us will agree that while our video numbers have peaked, our revenue has largely remained stagnant,” he says.

Need for publishers to up their game to gain revenue

The video revenues first come to You Tube, then to the OTTs, and finally to the short video apps. Hence, be it the overall revenue or the revenue in various formats, more news publishers are under pressure today. “If we fail to operate in some of the available formats, we will lose out on the money that we get from a certain set of industries altogether. There is a pattern that industrial advertisers follow to double down on certain formats. As publishers we need to now up our game and ensure our presence across all formats in order to gain from the sectors we are missing out on,” explains Gupt.

“The last few years have been great in terms of how we’ve measured the success of our businesses. We talked about Jio and how hundred dollar devices brought new users to our ecosystem. But again, the engagement growth actually went to OTTs and short video apps. Despite all the growth we claim, the quantum of growth compared to that of engagement are extremely contrasting. Today, newsrooms no longer need to focus on increasing their content but must ensure the production of content that is more engaging so that our revenue streams expand and we tap different sectors,” he adds.

There is a reason why most of the publishers fell into the trap of creating more content because most of them have a false notion of being number one in the Comscore ratings. Instead, the approach must be to become number one on consumer perception. “In the last few years, the social media revenue and short video revenues have grown tremendously. We now have to figure out whether pure display or the kind of content we are creating is actually going to benefit us,” says Gupt.

Direct digital ad and sub sales

More effort is now needed for direct selling of ads and digital subscriptions. But few companies actually talk about directly selling ads. Though it has largely remained ignored, it is the most important thing to talk about right now. “Because, when you sell directly, you understand the needs of the customer, not just about the campaign. Publishers often tend to lose out on upsell and cross-sell chances. Hence, it is important to go out on the field and create relationships with the customers.”

Need to grow reader revenue

Reader payments have started to grow. After years of discussion, some of the publishers have done a great job in building one or the other form of reader payment. “At Times Internet, we have two products built on reader payments right now, one is ET Prime and the other is Times Prime. While ET Prime is special content that is not available to general readers, while Times Prime has a membership model. If you are a member of Times Prime, you are also given access to other relevant or connected platforms.

“When one thinks about a reader payment strategy, one needs to focus on what will work for the country’s audience. Unlike publishing in Europe, Indian news publishing is extremely varied. A model that works for Times of India may not work for Nav Bharat Times or for Economic Times – even for products within the same publishing house. One should not expect that works for me will work for another publication in another region. I would encourage all of us to try to create an ecosphere where reader payments are given as much importance as advertising revenues,” Gupt concludes.

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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