While one or two English dailies have always figured in the top 10 list, the recent findings affirm once again that regional dailies continue to rule the roost.
Regional dailies are going beyond the usual by investing in events and digital initiatives to interest readers and marketers alike
After a hiatus of four years, when IRS (Indian Readership Survey) was launched earlier this year by Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI) and Media Research Users Council (MRUC), publishers heaved a sigh of relief. Busting the myth that print is dying, the report in one of its major findings, highlighted that 39% of Indians (aged over 12 years) read newspapers and 20% of all newspaper readers in towns with a population of over 50 lakh access them online. The study also revealed an interesting fact. This year, no English daily finds a place in the top 10 national dailies. While one or two English dailies have always figured in the top 10 list, the recent findings affirm once again that regional dailies continue to rule the roost. This is great news for regional publishers who believe that numbers will now help them attract advertisers at a higher premium like their English and niche counterparts. But beyond IRS, regional dailies are also investing in other revenue streams like events and digital media, which not only help in bringing together a community but also attract marketers.
Going beyond the usual
Marathi newspaper Lokmat, for instance, which was ranked sixth in the country in IRS 2017, has been making efforts to connect with readers across various segments, such as women, young adults and children. Its Sakhi Manch initiative is one of them. Through this initiative, which consists of learning workshops or creating awareness on various issues, the group wants to bring about change and empower women in Maharashtra. Lokmat Media Group’s MD Devendra Darda says, “Right now, this activation and connect is paving the way for a larger section of non-print revenue and this will only grow. Going ahead, Lokmat wishes to target at least 20% of its overall revenue to come from solutions, IPs, activations, brand marketing or non-print led initiatives.” In the Marathi belt, Loksatta too has its supplements — Lokrang for entertainment, Viva for lifestyle and a real estate supplement — Vasturang, to maximise its reach.
Similarly, Dainik Jagran, which has its hold in Hindi speaking markets (HSMs), made it to the numero uno spot for readership, and has 16 such supplements catering to different target groups and 10 different markets. “Most clients want activation-led initiatives as they can be measured in the end,” highlights Sanjay Gupta, CEO, Jagran Prakashan Group which has initiatives like Sangani (for women) and Sanskarshala (for children). In South India, Mathrubhumi Group has been attracting readers and advertisers through a variety of experiential marketing opportunities. Its Malabar Food Festival and Mojo Rising, a two-day music fest, have been around for decades now; only that the degree of sophistication and the variety of initiatives have increased, according to the company.
MV Shreyams Kumar, joint managing director, Mathrubhumi says, “Traditionally, we have held more activities in Kerala. But in recent years, we have held several community outreach programmes in Mumbai, Chennai and the UAE since we have editions and loyal readers in these markets too.” The newspaper has experienced a growth of over 40 % in the revenue on a yearly basis and believes activation helps reinforce the brand among its stakeholders — readers as well as advertisers.
Expanding the digital footprint
The digital uptake and increase in smartphone penetration in the country has converted print newsrooms into multimedia newsrooms. Regional papers too are slowly and steadily investing in digital to compete with changing dynamics. Gupta says that the digital medium is not really competition for newspapers. “It is a complementary medium,” he says, while adding that for each state, it is investing in getting a ‘more local language and community touch’ to its digital arm. Talking about investments in building the digital landscape, Darda says, “The reporting, uploading, searching, tagging and further news publishing have relaunched with new improved state-of- the-art solutions backed by investments in people and infrastructure.” In the last two years, Lokmat’s digital team has grown to over 75 heads across Mumbai and Delhi, and the publication is foraying into other languages apart from the Marathi news portal. There is no denying that in the current context, monetising on the digital front is quite a challenge as compared to other media verticals. Also, there are constant changes in technology and audience behaviour which make some digital investments obsolete too quickly. “We are targeting the relatively younger group — 18-34 year-olds — where we see easier adoption and growth,” points out Kumar.