The Indian Magazine Congress 2009 (IMC 2009), held in New Delhi on November 5-6, saw the industry heavy-weights get-together to discuss, debate and bring forth the various issues pertaining to the Indian magazine industry.
While “Is content the King even in troubled times?”; “Digital strategies for magazines”; “Licensing magazine brands in a new world order”; “Alternate revenue streams for magazine publishers” and “NRSC-MRUC merger” were some of the topics discussed in the two-day Congress, the five magic mantras established by Aroon Purie, chairman and editor-in-chief, India Today Group, in his keynote address at the beginning of the Congress summarised “what needs to be done by the Indian magazine industry to remain relevant to marketers and readers alike and thus, grow” very well.
According to Purie: investment in quality content; looking for new revenue and profit streams and extending the brand through events, etc.; addressing multiple delivery platforms like digital and mobile; treating magazine brands as platforms of engagement; and becoming a frugal media where cost control is on every employee’s mind are the five factor all magazine players need to be conscious about to sustain the ‘magic of magazines’ (also the theme for this year). He also quoted Rupert Heseltine, deputy chairman, Haymarket Media Group, while talking about the future of magazines, who at the World Magazine Congress had said, “I don’t regard us as a magazine publishing company but an audience engagement company.”
Giving the marketers’ perspective, Narayanan Rajaram, VP, Lakme and Hair Care, Hindustan Unilever and Suparna Mitra, head – global marketing, Titan, emphasised on the need for magazines as well as media agencies to educate the clients on the various advertising options the medium offers as well as the importance of keeping clients’ calendars in mind while planning innovations. “Small magazines that are not differentiated will fall prey to the numbers; those with differentiated target audience coupled with strong content can give even the major magazine players stiff competition,” said Rajaram, thus, reiterating the need for niche publications to build circulation amidst their target audience and investing in quality content.
The media agencies were represented by Ambika Srivastava, CEO, ZenithOptimedia and Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar whose presentations tackled the question, “Do magazines give a better RoI?” While evangelising the media based on its innate strengths such as it being targetable, active interactive, creative and by choice, both laid stress on the need for establishing a system of organised metrics that will quantify and put real value to magazine advertising, especially on a vehicular level.
On the metrics front, Lynn de Souza, chairman and CEO, Lintas Media Group and Ashish Bagga, CEO, India Today Group laid out a strong case for the RSCI, readership survey council of India, a body formed with the merger of NRSC and MRUC. “The joint body will have equal number of members from both MRUC and NRSC. It will conceive, design, and manage all readership related research study and will address the best available talent across the constituent,” explained Bagga. “It would lead to co-sponsorship for accuracy, accountability and responsibility. It will minimise any confusion or contradiction and be a common currency for readership measurement. Above all, it will be the gold standard duly endorsed and supplemented by the constitutions.”