According to the 2019 Indian Readership Survey (IRS), Dainik Jagran emerged as India’s most read newspaper with more than 73 million readers.
In this interview, the group’s director, Shailesh Gupta, tells us how the brand has managed to hold the top spot in Indian print media through the years, as well as its success on digital platforms, its plans for experimenting with subscription models and unconventional revenue sources.
WAN-IFRA: Please describe the advertising situation in India. Recent quarters have seen stagnant advertising revenue in the declared results of media companies. Is it a cause for worry? How is Jagran Prakashan combating the challenges that Indian advertising has been facing?
Shailesh Gupta: Advertising downturns and upswings are cyclical patterns that are dependent on several variables.
“Difficult times push you to think innovatively, focus on improving efficiencies and strive harder,” – Shailesh Gupta
At Jagran, we have always believed in the power of great journalism and our core connect with our readers remains strong.
As a result, we continue to be a compelling choice for our readers. Business cycles notwithstanding, we continue to go stronger and work harder, and set new benchmarks of excellence.
Could you tell us Jagran Prakashan’s digital and print ad revenues for 2018 and Q1 of 2019? How is this growth compared to contemporary rivals?
Digital revenues have grown by about 14.5 percent in Q1 2019 vs Q1 2018. Print has had a marginal degrowth of about 2-3 percent.
How do you manage to hit the sweet spot between newspaper circulation and ad revenue to avoid losses?
On the circulation front, we’ve increased cover prices whenever prudent and have been able to reduce unsold copies efficiently. Therefore, the circulation numbers have been maintained at competitive levels.
Once circulation numbers are at optimum competitive levels, advertising tends to follow through.
Going forward, as an industry, we need to be more prudent on cover prices.
Please share with us Dainik Jagran’s circulation figures of the past three years.
We have maintained our numbers around the 3.5-4 million copies mark over the last couple of years.
The IRS 2019 results show the consistent growth and dominance of print over digital in India. Dainik Jagran continues to be India’s leading Hindi newspaper with an increase in readership from 70 million in 2018 to 73 million this year. How have you managed to retain the top spot?
As I said earlier, a relentless focus on great journalism has made Dainik Jagran a compelling choice for its readers.
We consistently engage deeply with our readers and create a superlative experience for them, and make a difference to their lives.
“The reader is at the core of what we do, and it’s this reader-first approach that works,” – Shailesh Gupta
How do you see the share of revenue change from traditional channels such as advertising and print subscription to new revenue possibilities?
While traditional revenue streams of advertising and subscriptions will continue, there are several new innovative ideas that are opening up newer revenue opportunities.
For example, brand solutions, activations, integrated advertising solutions are opening up and will continue to strongly support the other traditional channels of revenue.
What is your take on the different forms of advertising – native advertising, event marketing, email marketing, social media ads, programmatic advertising? Which one(s) works best for Jagran, print and digitally?
We are exploring several new initiatives. We are creating integrated solutions through unique partnership programmes with advertisers. We are also working on brand solutions.
“We have also been working at creating some unique IPs that will help generate alternate revenues. We continue to explore newer ways to generate revenues both for print and digital,” – Shailesh Gupta
Tell us about your digital journey so far. How many monthly visitors do you register across your digital channels and do they come increasingly from mobile devices?
The digital journey has been exciting. It’s a given that languages will be powering the growth of digital in India – and amongst languages, Hindi is the largest.
We have a great connect with Hindi language readers and our flagship brand Jagran.com remains amongst the leaders in the category with about 25 million unique users.
“Other group sites like Onlymyhealth.com is the top Indian website in the healthcare information industry with 8.6 million unique users, while jagranjosh.com is one of the fastest growing Indian education sites with over 8 million unique visitors,” – Shailesh Gupta
HerZindagi.com kept growing its user base to reach 1.5 million users within 14 months of its launch (2017). Keeping in line with the overall trends of internet consumption in India, mobile devices are the leading point of access.
How is an online reader different from a print one?
There are different kinds of readers for both print and online – each defined by its core information needs.
Some readers are driven by the need to access information, some need opinion, some are different interest groups and so on. Both the online site and the print newspaper serve different needs for different readers.
Having said that, we believe that digital complements print. Additionally, digital news dissemination has just added another dimension to news consumption. More people are consuming more news, and spending more time on news.
Digital news consumption is filling in the gaps during the daytime with updates and news as it happens. The mornings are heavily dominated by print.
Digital reader revenue is catching up with South Asian media. Do you see Jagran Prakashan charging for content in the foreseeable future?
As of now we are focused on creating deeper engagement with our reader base and in growing the overall reader base.
“In the immediate short term, we don’t see any of the large players charging for content in India though,” – Shailesh Gupta
What is Jagran’s social media strategy for generating revenue and driving page views?
Our brand’s content credibility drives our digital presence. We have launched another portal, vishwas.news, to promote credible journalism. The fact-checking news portal has been created with an intent to reduce the dissemination of misinformation and is certified by International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
“We have a strong social outreach through Facebook and Twitter, and our strong technology ecosystem provides seamless experience to users. With a relentless focus on good journalism, we have 26 million Facebook fans, and we’re the first newspaper brand to reach this milestone on social media,” – Shailesh Gupta
How do you see the future of the media business in India?
The future holds exciting prospects from a news and information consumption standpoint. The good news is that more people will consume more media.
At the same time, there will be more content producers than ever. This will be aided by more platforms for dispersion of news.
Regarding print media, the fundamental strength of language press lies in its deep grassroot connect. Print’s unique ability to localise and customise along with a mass reach is what makes it an important part of the media mix.
This strength is unique and difficult to replicate by any media. It is on the back of this strength that language press has grown and will continue to do so in the near foreseeable future.