Kids are keenly aware of the latest gadgets and movie releases. The kids’ publications space sees a raft of new players as well as regional language editions among existing players.
Cherry Divecha Shethia, managing editor RobinAge, a weekly newspaper for children, points out that education is amongst the largest growing sectors in India and both schools and parents are on the lookout for educational resources that will give their children an edge. “This has given the children’s publication space the opportunity for growth as well as innovation. Children’s newspaper publishing in particular has grown tremendously with general knowledge and newspaper reading becoming part of the curriculum in schools across India. At the same time, with a growing number of child-specific products and services becoming available in the market, children’s newspapers are increasingly becoming an effective platform for advertisers to showcase their products to a niche audience of children, parents and educationists,” she explained.
“Children’s media has continued to witness robust growth over the last few years, which holds true for the print medium as well. Even with the clutter of gaming and television, there is an increasing consciousness amongst parents to inculcate reading habits in children from an early age. Champak as a magazine has continued to witness 15-20% growth in it circulation. It is now published in eight languages,” said Anant Nath, director of Delhi Press.
Elaborating on the changing mindset of children, Lakshmi Natarajan, MD, Bharathan Publications, a part of the Kalki Group and publishers of monthly magazine Gokulam, said, “Among children, attention spans have declined considerably, and stronger visual stimulation is needed alongside engaging content. Furthermore, emphasis is placed on integrating happenings on the international scene (like Harry Potter books and movies) with locally-centered content. In line with technological changes, many children’s magazines have websites that act as a parallel to their publications, with some adding games and blog-like segments to attract traffic online.”
Talking about the changes in mediums while addressing kids, Shekhar Banerjee, GM, Madison Media Infinity, said, “Kids’ publication space is in status quo. A lot has changed in the way kids consume media. Today, beyond TV, they spend time on digital media – either searching, gaming and networking. Over 38% of kids with computers at home access internet, 60% of kids play video games and 80% kids use all features of mobile phones. The traditional options like newspapers, story book, comics are getting replaced by Google, Facebook and gaming.”
Amar Chitra Katha (ACK Media), the group behind popular titles like Tinkle, has been a forerunner in adopting the digital medium for their library of content with the availability of digital versions of their comics as well as adapting content for emerging mediums like TV, web and mobile. Vijay Sampath, CEO, ACK Media, observed that the industry has been growing across all these genres. “Kids’ spend enormous amount on TV, internet and playing games, which is a diversion of time from books. This has opened up new opportunities. So, along with mainstream publishing, we are building delivery mechanisms in TV, films as well as digital,” he said .
The Amar Chitra Katha series is airing on Cartoon Network, and the group is developing seven movies over the next couple of years, including a 3D theatrical film based on the series Sons of Ram.
Shekhar Banerjee, general manager, Madison Media Infinity
“Growth (in this space) will be driven by TV followed by digital media. A lot is left wanting when we look at the Indian kids publications space. Internationally, all kids magazines or comics have invested heavily to build their digital assets like websites, game adaptations, etc. This is lacking here, and it should be the way to go for even Indian publications. ”
Vijay Sampath, chief executive officer, ACK Media
“Advertisers are definitely using the medium effectively. At ACK, we have a strict advertising code that we adhere too. Having said that, we have been weaving advertising in content that is child friendly. We help advertisers develop relevant content according to their requirements and suggest brand integrations with content like special comic strips in the magazine or web. ”
Cherry Divecha Shethia, managing editor, RobinAge
“RobinAge is working with children’s brands across various categories such as FMCGs, travel and tourism to conduct in-school activations. Our school contact programmes are designed to showcase our brand partners while also laying a strong emphasis on providing children with positive, educational content. With an increasing number of parents and children using the web and handheld communication devices, we also see a huge growth opportunity in making RobinAge available on various e-platforms including the web, smartphones and tablets.”
Lakshmi Natarajan, managing director, Bharathan Publications
“Advertisers could use the magazine brand’s much more effectively – rather than relying on the traditional format of page-ads. They could sponsor running segments that is related to their product (Maggi sponsoring a segment on healthy eating; or Faber Castel on art). Magazines and advertisers could also partner for common social causes that could involve children (like Greenpeace). Finally, all initiatives should make effective use of the Internet and social networking sites to garner maximum exposure for their initiatives.”
Anant Nath, director, Delhi Press
“There is a skew towards advertising in electronic medium, inspite of the obvious benefits of the print medium. Champak, with a circulation of more than three lakhs across its eight editions, has an estimated readership of more than 60 lakh, which is far higher than any other TV program. This is perhaps the most effective and engaging medium to speak to the young minds. At the same time, with the new format of the magazine, we are seeing some definite movement in terms of advertising in the magazine, as well for riding on our events network.”