As we get into the fourth week of January, it’s apparent that the year ahead will be difficult, to put it mildly. Publications, TV channels, radio channels, outdoor concessionaires, event owners, for example, are all struggling to sell time/space/sponsorships as the case may be.
With their entire cost structure built on projected revenues from advertising sales and no other income, there’s not much that radio stations and outdoor concessionaires can do.
But there is a lot that publishers, TV channels and event owners can do. Go back to putting a premium on content and, as a consequence, reduce the dependence on advertisers and sponsors.
In the case of TV channels, they have, it must be admitted, fought for more revenue from subscribers for the past ten years. If they did get from cable operators what is truly their due, weathering a few months of low advertising would be a breeze.
The low cover prices of newspapers and magazines is a laughable situation – and an unjustifiable luxury at a time like this. It is time that major publishers finally belled the cat and increased cover prices. One year ago, a step like this might have sounded ridiculous as the entire strategy was to gain market share. Today, chasing market share, too, is a luxury one can ill afford. Raise, for example, the price of The Times of India by one rupee a copy. When the paper has a daily circulation of a couple of million, the pressure on ad sales will ease considerably.
And the pressure is telling, dangerously. Rather than risk losing in the circulation game by raising the cover prices, publications are killing themselves by reducing prices – and threatening yield.
When better times are back, the effective rates and yields that are established now will continue to hold – the advertiser will not agree to increased rates without a fight. It’s this danger that publishers need to guard against – and the only way this can be done is by decreasing the dependence on advertisers.
Obviously, it is only those who have superior content who can take this route. It’s time to stand up and be counted – is your content truly king?
Which brings me to Goafest.
First, Goafest must happen. It has, over the years, grown in stature and has become an important milestone in the advertising, marketing and media landscape. Decision makers are able to set goals for the industry, discuss issues that concern the industry and negotiate possible solutions.
The youth brigade is able to rub shoulders with the most accomplished professionals in the business; international professionals are able to meet all of India’s professionals in just three days.
Goafest grows the business.
Second, sponsorship will be much more difficult than in the last couple of years, as those who would want to sponsor such an event are going through tough times themselves. Contrary to the popular argument that the delegate fees need to come down, I would argue that they need to go up, again reducing the dependence on sponsors.
For the delegate to accept a higher fee, the Goafest proposition needs to be re-engineered. Highlight the ‘profit-from-it’ areas of the festival; the speakers, the panel discussions, the exhibitions. The pretty picture of sun, sand, surf and sex will not get Adland to dip into their pockets as easily as in the past. Tell a different story, tell it well. Tell Adland that the cost attached to attending the Goafest is an investment and not a luxury; an investment that enriches the delegate and the organization the delegate works for.