Ashish Bagga CEO, Living Media Group
“The issue is more in the accuracy of measurement rather than the outcome itself and this is being addressed at the highest level with media planners and advertisers,” says Ashish bagga, CEO, India Today in an exclusive interview to BestMediaInfo.com.
Q) India Today remained undisputed no 1 for years and now you are facing stiff competition from Outlook; how do you take being threatened no 1?
There is no “threat” and there is no “stiff competition”. If you look at the readership and advertising market share figures you will see for yourself that how irrelevant the question of being threatened is. India Today was launched in 1975 and has remained India’s No 1 newsmagazine ever since and continues to outwit the competition across all performance parameters.
Q) The last one year was the worse ever for Indian media, how did India Today group manage to stay away from the storm?
We weathered the storm just the way any leader ought to. We addressed innovation, consolidation and offered more value to our advertisers and readers. We have come out leaner, fitter and with a better market share.
Q) Magazines accounts only 10% of the total ad revenue of the print, do you see this trend changing and magazines grabbing more share in ad revenue?
Most certainly. Magazines will continue to grow addressing niche communities of readers and targeted advertisers. The scope is immense and we are still an under developed, under penetrated medium in India as opposed to what the state of the art is in the developed world.
Q) The magazine market isn’t experiencing much growth; in fact, there has been a decline in readership, isn’t it a challenge for the magazine market to make a firm ground for itself?
The issue is more in the accuracy of measurement rather than the outcome itself and this is being addressed at the highest level with media planners and advertisers.
Q) Every one is talking of innovation and change in magazines, do you think that change is required, if yes, then what kind of change it should be?
Change is a constant. If you look at India Today even 5 years back, we were very different from what we are today and this will be even more so as we progress in time. Innovation sits at the heart of brand India Today, be it the main magazine, its line extensions, its events, its spin offs, its language editions and various other by products.
Q) You closed the Bengali edition of India today last December; do you think that still the regional market does not hold the potential for sustainability and profitability?
Bengali is a very price sensitive market and it didn’t make sense to continue publishing with low circs and consequently low ad revs. But as the economy grows and there is a greater appetite to spend for credible news brands, we will certainly revisit the Bengali opportunity as also assess the potential for other language editions.
Q) How are the foreign titles published by your group are doing?
Very well indeed. We are happy with the progress and most of the brands we publish are market leaders.
Q) The group is also into running bookstores, what prompted you to jump in retail?
It was a logical forward integration diversification strategy for the company. The opportunity beckoned us to address this space and the progress we have made this far has been extraordinary, especially in the metro stations and airports.
Q) Are there any plans to rollout some new magazine?
Yes indeed. Excellent editorial brands combined with growth and innovations are the pillars of the India Today group and that’s the key reason that we are unchallenged market leaders and growing continuously for over 34 years.