Further guesstimates and cheerleading from media players

Online news fatigue and driving trust in the absence of data

Trust is still the USP of print

The Reuters Digital News Report shares insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 93,000 online news consumers in 46 markets. Online news consumption has fallen down worldwide as trust in digital media has fallen back, and digital news fatigue has set in. The Covid-19 pandemic had earlier accelerated the move towards a more digital and mobile media environment.

According to a recent report on print advertising in India by market research firm statista, newspaper advertising in India was at US$ 2.24 billion (approximately Rs 18,503 crore), significantly closer to prepandemic levels of US$ 2.73 billion (approximately Rs 22,551 crore) after falling down to US$ 1.93 billion (approximately Rs 15,942 crore) and
US$ 2.14 billion (approximately Rs 17,677) in the calendar years 2020 and 2021, respectively. Print ad revenues are predicted to rise to US$ 2.31 (approximately Rs 19,082 crore) in the year 2023. Magazine advertising spends, on the other hand, decreased from US$ 0.09 billion (approximately Rs 743 crore) in 2019 to US$ 0.06 billion(approximately Rs 495 crore) in 2022. However, magazine ad revenues are expected to stay constant at US$ 0.06 billion (approximately Rs 495 crore) in 2023.

In another article in exchange4media, Mohit Jain, president of the Indian Newspaper
Society (INS) and BCCL board member expressed his views on the popularity of print among advertisers, “There is a lot of clutter online, with constant pop-ups, notifications, and other distractions, and a lot of brands, especially emerging ones which don’t have brand recognition yet, can get lost in the crowd. This is where print emerges as a good option. Not only can your brand stand out, but its ads in newspapers have more impact on the public at large.”

“There is always a churn in the composition of advertising. Print media is managing this churn quite well currently and keeps adding newer categories and clients to it, including popular social media platforms. Print advertising provides a massive reach, immediacy, and a big impact in a credible manner. Print is not fragmented and is the simplest way of reaching audiences at the state or city level due to its hyper-local nature,” argues DB Corp promoter and director Girish Agarwal.

In the INMA South Asia News Media webinar on 11 August 2022, Dolly Jha of Neilsen showed the old surveys (because new surveys were not available then) – apart from one
smaller recent survey that her company did – that demonstrated the power of print. “Publishers must lever the power of print in driving trust,” she asserted, showing data in
which – “Print is actually coming out loud and tall on trust in research and the empirical data reinforces the positives,” as reported in this publication.

She suggested print needs to rebuild its connect with the ecosystem with an advisory council meeting with advertisers once every four months, or at least once in six months. “Don’t shy away from measurement,” she said, urging the news publishers to revive the preCovid-19 measurement research. Since then, the ABC survey for January to June 2022 has become available, although some media planners seem unaware of this. As Dolly Jha stated, the Indian news industry must keep investing in better research to leverage the power of print driving trust.

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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