Feature | Dailies donning jackets, front full page ads this festive season - ultimate advertising innovation?

With the festive season round the corner, every business outfit is aiming to en-cash to all opportunities available to get the money rolling in! If you read newspapers, you can miss out how almost all national leading dailies serve up ads, especially in the last week few weeks. When it comes to advertising, print and publishing industry has transformed in leaps and bounds. With the aim to have a holistic and robust understanding of the advertising trends and the business behind it, we at Adgully caught up with a few industry personals.

With the thought to get the true 360 degree, clear picture of the innovations that broadsheets are exploring during the festive season, we asked these industry minds as to what shall be their recommendation to their clients during festive season for a clutter breaking communication in broadsheet. And this is what they said!

Nitin Chaudhry, Head - Media Marketing (Revenues), Hindustan Times said, "A number of innovations have been implemented by Hindustan Times with our various advertisers during the festive season. Some of our major work being the Hyundai Eon Launch where we utilized the innovation of multiple flaps very effectively. For the Maruti Swift Launch we went with multiple front pages, a concept supported by the tagline - More Swift per Swift." K.Uma Shankar, GM, Prabhat Khabar said, "Technically we did not do traditional innovations. However we have designed various packages to different clients for the entire festive season. We did Prabhat Utsav which is our Branding Initiative. Many clients happily participated and were happy with the results. The reason why we did not do innovations is; firstly, they have become very common and innovations no more remained innovations and secondly, clients were not willing to pay any premium due to slow down so doing innovations without premium does not make any business sense.

While Dhruba Mukherjee, Associate Vice President - The Telegraph said, "Innovations that we have done include - cover on cover, half cover, center spread and tabloid blowing out in to a broad sheet", Gautam Dalal, dna positive said, "PFA 3 innovations done recently with advertisers. Some of these innovations are indeed done on page 1 (either main or after hrs)

Looking at this from agency's point of view, Janardhan Pandey, Mudra Max suggests, "Large format ads & front page/page 3 innovations which will stand out to give them the best possible OTS & impact for their communication."

On the other hand Kartik Sharma, Managing Partner, Maxus said, "At Maxus our recommendations are rooted in deep understanding of the consumer, a clearly articulated insight & great media ideas borne out of the insight. A lot also depends on the creative. We do not have a formula based approach for clutter breaking ideas during season period. Everything depends on the brand, category, creative & the context. Having said this, during season time we have noticed a disproportionate increase in ads & sometimes it can become a blind spot. Our overall recommendation is "tread with caution & if a great idea comes along, back it to the hilt'.

Print Media Brand Consultant A. S. Raghunath is of the opinion that, "Integrated Marketing communications would have been a better option in such festive season. I would have advised my market leader to shift the buying frenzy from the clustered space to more fare kind of spots." He further elaborates that, "In a place where Diwali buying shops range from stalls selling puja materials to gift items to other electronic goods could have brought the entire diwali buying gamut in just one large space. It is wise to ensure the buyer's traffic flow. My newspaper would have released special numbers from last week by integrating with local fm, outdoor and cable option. It would have also given a build up to such spots by also highlighting the salient feature through editorial content."

With an increase in the use of jackets for newspaper as advertising options, do these industry's thinking minds see this as the best innovations or jackets seem to have lost its sheen?!

Agreeing to the latter half of the above mentioned statement, K.Uma Shankar said, "Front Page jackets have become boring and at times I don't even bother to see who is advertising. We directly jump into page 3 which is the real "page 1'. Jackets have defiantly it lost its sheen.

In complete contrast to this Nitin Chaudhry said, "Jackets are certainly an innovation with high visual punch both for advertisers and readers." Similarly, Dhruba Mukherjee who said, "Jackets is increasingly becoming popular. They are still the best source of innovation revenues but given the frequent use they are becoming more of a standard offering rather than an innovation. Will not be surprised to see them appearing in rate cards in the future."

Seconding Mukherjee's opinion is Gautam Dalal, who said, "Jackets / front page ads certainly are preferred, since they provide 100% plus exposure. Besides subscribers, even passers by / glances notice innovations well.

Agency minds like Kartik Sharma said, "Jackets were conceived as a good way to differentiate & interestingly engage consumers. It gave a refreshing way to surprise & communicate with consumers in the initial stages. However it is getting overused. When any format gets over used there is bound to some degree of effectiveness drop as consumers start expecting the format and/or ignore it (if creative is not good). I won't say jackets have lost its sheen but definitely some thought needs to be given before using it as an end all solution for brands. Apart from jackets there are many other interesting and relevant ways by which we can communicate with consumers."

Voicing similar thoughts, Janardhan Pandey said, "Jackets are space created on premium positions to accommodate demanding advertisers for high impact communication. They are rampant now in publications which wasn't the case few years back. I won't call them as innovation but they are an innovative space options smartly created for advertisers."

Critically analyzing this situation A.S Ragunath said, "If jackets are common to all newspaper, the communication loses impact. In Delhi almost all the newspapers were having jackets right from last week. With news space being compromised, it also irritates the news consumers."

In an effort to understand the advertising patterns / trends and revenue charts, we threw a question to our elaborate guests' line-up. It read ' Are publishers offering better packages this festive season vis-a-vis last year, in turn getting a better value for your money?

We received almost single toned responses on this.

While Nitin Chaudhry opines that, "We have seen an uptick in festive season related revenue as compared to last year", K. Uma Shankar also said, "Yes in our market the revenues are better than last year's festive season, except few centers like Delhi last year during the same period there were elections and hence we cannot consider that revenue to it". Mukherjee, in complete agreement said, "This year revenues have certainly been greater than previous years (Ranging between 15-20% higher)".

Gautam Dalal elaborating on this point said, "Festive season continues to be good for DNA. The reason is obvious: Firstly, with over 5.7L copies in Mumbai alone, DNA is a huge opportunity for retail clients to reach the city's spenders at almost half the rate of the leading publications. ' The E:R works in DNA's favour. Secondly, with a slew of automobile launches, we have seen strong revenue coming in this sector too." Adding further, he said, "Given the huge buying season, clients pick up packages and not just single ads. These packages work well, as a local reach medium for them."

"Each year different media houses craft new packages. Some of them are similar to last year & some are unique. Value for such offers need to be weighed in the context of the offer on the one side & the expected clutter (therefore effectiveness) on the other. Overall my sense is it will be more or less similar at an overall level", said Karthik Sharma.

Janardhan Pandey is of the opinion that, "As media agency our job is to continue adding value to our clients by way of better rates and best positioning of ads. Now days the media owners are also forthcoming and open to offer innovative and cost effective deals that are win-win for all stakeholders. I can say that its volume & business which is more important than the "per square cms' rates for media owners."

Consultant A.S. Raghunath is dissecting the situation said, "The market has been passing through low sentiments. The other festivals like Onam and Dasherra which sets the pace for the Diwali campaigning were also dull this year. However, Diwali campaigning has suddenly burst out from late last week. I opine it was because most newspapers offered attractive packages to build up the tempo. Markets have not been as rewarding as last year."

Speaking on decreased spends from the advertisers, which has led to the Broadsheets en-cashing on this with better packages, Nitin Chaudhry is of the opinion that, "While large advertisers have decreased the ad spends to some extent, lots of new advertisers have ensured continued revenues for publishers. Better packages do help in revenue maximization but they are a regular phenomenon rather than being an outcome of decreased spends."

On similar lines, Mukherjee said that, "It is true - with spends been rationalized broadsheets are been forced to look at aggressive packages to maximize revenues."

From this read, what one may understand and infer is that, though technology and taken the media by rage, print still holds a strong grip as an advertising option. With the revenue, cost and expenses charts sliding their way, it has become essential for print media owners and agencies to think out-of-the-box advertising methods and deliver superior quality results for every pocket size. Thus, though festive seasons have been and will continue to be the "high-action times', innovation will also be a continuous task for the people of the business. | By Ankita Tanna [ankita(at)adgully.com]

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