IMC Day Two: Exploring regional and digital opportunities

A panel discussed ‘the power of regional magazines’, while another discussed how digital editions could push up readership

Feb 26, 2014 03:29:00 PM | Article | Ananya Saha

The second day of the Indian Magazine Congress 2014 in New Delhi played host to panels on regional magazines and digital editions.

A panel on ‘Metros and beyond – The power of regional magazines’ discussed the nuances around growth of regional magazines.

In a presentation, Mitrajit Bhattacharya, president and publisher, Chitralekha Group, pondered over whether language publications needed to strategise differently for metros and beyond. He surmised, “No, because marketing strategy is very simple – just follow your consumer.”

Citing the example of his own publication, he noted that Chitralekha followed an 80:20 formula between tradition and change. By change, he implied the areas where the group experiments with new properties and themes.

B Srinivasan, MD, Vasan Publications, noted that regional magazines needed to know what content to focus on and when. “Given that we went paid with our website, we collect big data from our offline and online readers’ activity to provide relevant content to people,” he added.

Paresh Nath, chairman, Delhi Press Group, started off by saying that regional magazines should rightfully be called ‘non-English Indian language magazines’. Criticising DAVP for advertising mostly with English newspapers, he said, "Daily English newspapers are able to finance themselves not with advertising but government advertising. They are (hence) able to give about 60 pages for Rs 4 everyday."

Making the case for Indian language publications stronger, Nath noted that Indian language magazines occupied nine out of the top 10 places as per IRS 2013, and underlined that the Indian television industry was predominantly in Indian languages.

Digital editions

Girish Ramdas, CEO and co-founder, Magzter; and Ruth Feldman, VP International editorial director, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, pushed for magazines to explore and maximise digital platforms.

Ramdas noted that publishers were confused about being on the digital platform three years ago. But given that there will be 2.25 billion smart devices by 2017 (globally), tablets are the device to reach the magazine consumers, he contended. Citing Magzter data, Ramdas said, "We had 6.5 million downloads last year. Today, we have 18 million users globally and have more than one lakh publishers." He stated that since Magzter makes its digital magazines platform-agnostic, it could engage consumers with interactivity easily.

Feldman elaborated on the digital strategy of Martha Steward magazines. She said, "We convert audiences to our digital audience by captivating, animating and connecting. We worked on adding videos, interactive photos, and more readable screen print to our digital edition."

She further noted that their digital reader was seven times younger than the print edition reader, and they were also in the habit of renewing their subscriptions.