newspapers in India need to start charging readers for digital content and they need to do this right away. If given for free for too long, readers may never pay for the content online.”
Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Havas, is the son of the famous French industrialist Vincent Bolloré and credits his father for teaching him the importance of entrepreneurship and hard work. Bolloré’s journey stared with the launch of cinema production company WY Productions (Hell, YSL) in 2002, which he had co-founded with Wassim Béji. In 2006 he joined Bolloré Group, where he served as the CEO of Bolloré Média till 2012. At Bolloré Media, he was in charge of the daily Direct Matin, advertising network Bolloré Intermedia, polling institute CSA, and TV channels Direct 8, Direct Star and Direct Cinéma. It was in 2013 that he took charge of Havas and spent the initial six months realigning the advertising network across the globe.
Bolloré today spends every week in a different country, understanding the sea change the media and advertising industry is going through.
Every week he and his team brainstorm to find the best solutions for its clients across the world that would help them in dealing with the changing media landscape. On a business trip to India, Bolloré was invited to speak in front of the Indian advertising and media industry at the ‘Impact One on One’ organised by the Exchange4media Group. In a conversation with Indian reporters, Bolloré talks about the challenges that lie ahead. Edited excerpts:
You belong to the influential Bolloré family of France. Why did you enter the business of media?
I have had the unique opportunity to do something meaningful. Fascinated by the stories of my ancestors with all them being successful entrepreneurs, I too wanted to do things that mattered or still matters. I want to bring about change at a time when the world is changing.
How has the scenario changed for television business in the last ten years?
I remember being invited to be part of a panel discussing the future of television. At the time it felt like I was being invited to my own funeral.
Television has evolved from the time when we just produced content but did not own it as an intellectual property. It should be noted despite being not able to own the content, we were always able to monetise it. And then came the phase where we could own the IP of the content. In the present situation, a television network’s ability to produce and own the content is not the only thing that matters, distribution has become equally important. For example, HBO, the US network behind hits such as Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, is all set to launch an online streaming service that will pit the network against online rivals such as Netflix and Amazon. Similarly, Amazon has roped in famous director Woody Allen to create its first television series. In addition to creating the content, it has become important to distribute the content so it reaches as many viewers as possible.
How does the future look for the television industry?
With the emergence of multi-screens, it is very difficult to predict the future of the television industry. No one knows; so everyone should stay alert to tackle any kind of change. Everyone thinks that Kodak shut shop because it failed to invent the digital camera. But the truth is someone in the company did invent the digital camera, and showed it to the owner, who asked him to hide the latest technology.
But to his horror someone else invented it and the company closed down. The lesson is that we should not fear disruption. The idea is to envisage the worst scenario and prepare accordingly.
What about print media which also seems to be facing difficult times?
Globally, digital has taken over print in terms of ad spends. While in India print still accounts for a larger share of the ad spend, I don’t see a reason as to why going forward digital will not able to catch up. Print will decline in the coming ten years.
With social media allowing everyone to broadcast news, how can the standards of journalism be maintained?
Yes, it is true with the advent of social media everyone today is a journalist. The question remain how to monetise digital content. This also ignites the debate between earned owned and paid media. But at the end of the day newspapers have to understand there is a reason why they are trusted, and if it wants to carry forward this trustworthy relationship with the readers then the balance has to be maintained. Newspapers will have to maintain a profitable ecosystem.
But in a price sensitive market like India, how can newspapers monetise digital content?
If you give anything for free including content for too many years, chances are you will never be able to earn anything from it. Similarly, newspapers in India too need to start charging the readers for digital content as well and publications need to start this today. If given for free for too long, readers may never pay for the content online. We already have a scenario where publications are struggling to increase the cover price but are unable since everyone wants content at a cheap rate. gling to increase the cover price but are unable since everyone wants content at a cheap rate.