"Print as a medium, people were in a hurry to write an obituary," said Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia as he began his address to a select group of marketers, media owners and advertising executives at the launch of The Gutenberg Galaxy, a collection of case studies in print advertising, that was formally launched in Mumbai yesterday by the IAA, India chapter.
Bhasin was optimistic abou the prospects of the print medium in India. "It will grow over the next few years." The triggers. Disposable income growth, improvement in literacy rates will continue to propel the print medium over the next 5 to 7 years. "People in the business need to be confident. The INR 20,000 crore advertising pie is growing at nearly 5 percent. It's silly to be defensive," he remarked.
He however added a note of caution. The time spent on medium, the young reader going digital are challenges and the medium must find ways to show how this can be strengthened. Also, the print media's performance has been average in demonstration of ROI.
The common thread of thought was that print media allows you to innovative significantly.
Bhasin said, "Half cut page or slant are gimmicks. Fundamental innovation is required. Biggest thing going for print is digital. The amount of fake news in digital, print industry been reasonably responsible. While the headwinds and threats from other media exists, all forms of media are going to grow over the next few years, he said while remarking that the current threat of high newsprint prices and dollar rate increase are cyclical.
Santosh Padhi, cofounder, Taproot Dentsu blamed the attitude of clients and creative agencies towards creating print ads. He added, "The media is growing without the support of the creative and brands. If we come together and put our hearts into the medium it will come out in flying colours," he said adding that sometimes news layouts are better than the ads we put out.
He said that putting out offer ads would not help the cause of print. "Catalog of advertising in the festive season will not be leaving a story behind. Not tactical or offer ads. We can bring back the glory if a handful of us decide," he said.
Ajay Kakar, CMO, Aditya Birla Group Financial Services said, "The print medium had the power of touching the 5 senses and the heart. Touch, feel and smell of print is intoxicating and a habit."
He added that the print medium allowed for sharp targeting, segmentation, topicality and shelf life. Unfortunately agencies get active around December to create token ads that can be entered for the awards in the print category. "Print is not a standard solution for everyone. However to a relevant audience, print is king," he said.
Bhasin, who wears the double hat as the chairperson of the Media Research Users Council that brings out the IRS, the largest readership survey in the world, urged print media owners to play to their strength and not the weakness. He said print was the most credible medium and would come out stronger once the dust settles.
Throwing some numbers to strengthen the case he added that between now and 2025, 300 million potential readers would come into the fold (over the next 7 years from tier 2,3 and 4 cities).