Hemamalini Venkatraman
Feb 24, 2015

IMC 2015: ‘Are we catering to the advertiser or the reader?’

The debate was rekindled even as the relevance of print and the need to diversify were underlined, at the ninth Indian Magazine Congress

IMC 2015: ‘Are we catering to the advertiser or the reader?’
The ninth edition of the Association of Indian Magazines’ Indian Magazine Congress (IMC) got underway in Chennai on 23 February 2015. The relevance of print in a world going digital continued to dominate conversations at this year’s two-day event.
Juan Senor, partner, Innovation Media Consultancy, UK and co-editor, Innovations in Magazines World Report, sought to highlight the dominance of digital media in his presentation. According to him, the current diktats of the market meant that companies had to have a mobile strategy in place. If print, radio, celluloid, television, web and gaming have successfully influenced people, then, the seventh medium – the mobile – needed to be considered as a powerful tool to connect, engage and work with customers, he said.
He cited the example of the dedicated Quartz mobile magazine that had ‘outperformed’ The Economist in the UK. Without the periodicity factor, the mobile age has made the concept of dailies, weeklies, monthlies or quarterlies irrelevant, he noted. 
He reasoned that the revenue model too has been innovative -- Quartz was able to have 20 premium advertisers and a sold-out inventory. Without banners and paywalls, it used native advertising, enabling  the mobile magazine to break even ahead of schedule. 
Content, he opined, had to take centrestage, adding that the easiest way to grow digital revenue was using the video platform with a stat on consumption: online viewership for the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 was 10 million, while the figure soared to 1 billion following live streaming of the London Summer Olympics four years later.
“Consider the case of Google, which feels it is vulnerable after having missed out on the social and mobile revolutions,” said Senor, adding that most companies fail because they miss the future. Key to incremental revenues is developing ‘digital fitness and agility by increasing the digital footprint’, he noted, without compromising on ‘speed and depth’.
Paresh Nath, chairman, Delhi Press Group, sought to highlight the relevance of the print medium. 
Much like the Indian delicacy samosa that hasn’t changed in shape over the years, print delivers a far greater sense of satisfaction to readers, he argued.
“Are we catering to the advertiser or the reader?” he posed, reminding the audience of a debate that has stretched for many years now. He also made the case for regional language magazines that continuing to grow.
The panel discussion was the first of IMC 2105 and was moderated by B Srinivasan, MD, Vikatan Group, who noted that engaging via extended platforms had brought in business results for his Tamil magazine publishing company. The group has a Twitter following of over 4 lakh and 30 per cent of its digital traffic was from the mobile platform, he said.
Also airing his views on the panel was Siva Vaidhyanathan, chairman, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia.
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