Dr Bhaskar Das makes 4 suggestions for Indian newspapers

Tackling changing market dynamics

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Dr Bhaskar Das at the Wan-Ifra Indian Media Leaders eSummit 2021
Dr Bhaskar Das at the Wan-Ifra Indian Media Leaders eSummit 2021

During the recent Wan-Ifra Indian Media Leaders eSummit 2021, Dr Bhaskar Das of Dainik Bhaskar Group of publications offered four suggestions to the newspaper media companies to tackle the changing dynamics of the marketplace reconfiguration, revenue reconfiguration, cost optimization, and seamless digitization.

Dr Bhaskar Das’s four suggestions to tackle changing dynamics of the marketplace

Product reconfiguration 

By product reconfiguration, Dr Das meant up-gradation instead of mere updation. This includes reader-friendly designs, hyper local news, investigative and research-based articles

He said that instant news channels like television channels and the internet can never do justice to news due to lack of perspective, staff strength, and ability to research and report. Since they operate in breaking news boxes, they lack the time to do deep dives and research. 

Dr Bhaskar Das stressed on the aspect of credibility, which he said, newspapers need to showcase rather than claim. “Every newspaper claims that it is credible, but they have to work on it to show that,” he said. For this, the newspaper needs to undertake fact-checking and in-depth analysis. 

Newspapers also have to offer points of view beyond reporting to empower readers to make meaning out of the cacophony of noise that is masquerading as news. Newspapers also need to focus on community-based coverage. 

Revenue configuration

Dr Das suggested that newspapers need to prioritize circulation in markets advertising spends are higher. He also said cover price increase can be considered for increasing revenues. 

Also, newspapers need to identify micro-markets, geography, and consumer segment-wise, which are underpenetrated, and bundle deals with e-commerce companies, DTH, and OTT platforms. “You need to connect with DTH and OTT platforms because they are also sort of media companies,” he added. 

Talking of ad sales, he said instead of selling space, newspaper companies should try to achieve market ownership and offer comprehensive solutions. Also, newspapers need to invest in the creation of creative communications, especially for Indian language publications

 Dr Bhaskar Das also highlighted the importance of data and said that it is imperative to communicate reach and the profile of the target audience and the level of immersion by page and by subject. 

Cost optimization

According to Dr Das, newspapers can optimize cost by opting for collaboration and sharing services such as HR, purchase, transportation, and IT, among others. “At the front-end, newspapers can compete, but at the back end, they should explore possibilities of collaboration,” he argued. 

Dr Das also said that newspapers should look at automation opportunities in all areas of consumer, content, advertising, and subscription

Seamless digitization

Dr Bhaskar Das emphasized that it is just not enough to have the printed version, but newspaper companies need to also focus on audio, video, and mobile experience seamlessly. He also said that newspapers need to have multi-community brand extension and different products for print and digital

 

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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