As many brands switch to the digital medium for advertising, many still stick to the traditional print medium for its credibility. At a time when digital media is plagued by issues like fake news and trolling and television has its own share of issues with the TRP scam and sensationalism, print has become the go-to destination for those seeking brand safety.
“Since the news is much more credible, people tend to believe what appears in print, even an advertisement. So that's something advertisers get advantages from. If they want people to trust the brand product, they need to be in a credible media,” said MV Shreyams Kumar, MD, Mathrubhumi.
Suresh Balakrishna, Chief Revenue Officer of The Hindu also believes that print provides credibility to brands. “I think brands care a lot about credibility. And one of the big reasons why print is still drawing good advertising is because it is a credible medium and a high-impact medium,” he said.
However, he says it's difficult to attribute how much of their revenue is due to their credibility.
“My volumes have gone up in the last four months. Some of that can be attributed to our credibility. But it's difficult to put a number to that,” he said.
Kumar says print enjoys credibility because it's subscribed to, and not available freely. "Every news article is looked at properly. And we are responsible for our readers, whereas others are responsible for only the advertisers. When somebody pays Rs. 7.50 per copy, I'm responsible for them. The print has always been credible and it runs in our blood," he said.
“On the digital medium, 80% of the revenue goes to Google and Facebook. There’s a lot of talk about digital, but at the end of the day, we don’t get the money. Also, there’s a lot of wastage as a lot of money is pumped in but without getting the proper returns. It's all built up with the algorithms and it is not organic. Anybody can start a website and put any news they want. News has taken a hit because of these new mediums that publish uncurated news. Whereas print reaches out to people organically and they know the credibility of newspapers is very high,” he added.
After conducting surveys in 17 countries, YouGov, in a report released last month, noted that over 40% of those surveyed in India had read a newspaper in the week before being questioned. Among those 17 countries, India ranked the highest.
“Print sits in the middle of the international pack and is particularly popular in India – where 46% of our nationally urban representative sample read a newspaper in the week prior to being asked the question,” stated the report.
Despite a drastic dip in circulation during the Covid-induced lockdown last year, newspapers are now reporting a gradual upswing. Even advertisers are now returning to the print medium.
The trend is particularly prominent in Kerala, where the newspapers were not as badly hit as the rest of the country. Kumar said, “Our numbers are growing. We have been hearing that print is going to go down, but our numbers are growing. There would be fluctuations here and there but overall copies are picking up.”
Abhishek Karnani, Director, Free Press Journal, says that the newspapers would bear the fruits of this over a longer time period and not so soon. “Right now with train services not being regularised the distribution is poor. But we have seen a 10x jump on our page use of our epaper. This shows that people are wanting to read newspapers. But since they're not getting it, they are happy to read it in a digital format.”
In an earlier interview to BestMediaInfo.com, Sidharth Parashar, President, Investment and Pricing, GroupM, had also mentioned that print is the most credible platform but it depends on publishing houses to stay relevant for advertisers.
“Emerging as one of the most credible media, on the basis of what all of us know and according to the YouGov survey outcome, it is up to the print publications how to leverage this position and build on the strong value and stay relevant in the fast-changing world. Because print is considered as the most credible medium doesn’t mean it is the most relevant from the advertising and marketing standpoint on its own. It is up to the media owners and publishing houses to strive for staying more relevant and attractive,” he had said.