Delhi delegates update on digital with WAN-Ifra

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Find out what readers will pay for and establish ways to give it to them.

The advice on 'monetising in times of change' came from Times Internet chief operating officer Puneet Gupt in the opening morning of WAN-Ifra's ninth Digital Media India conference.

"Quality of revenue should be a factor in deciding how a news media company monetises," says Puneet Gupt. "A brand must consider 'direct sales vs programmatic sales', 'brand solutions vs standard advertisements,' 'reader revenue vs advertising revenue,' and 'revenue from syndication vs on-site revenue'."

About 110 news media executives from ten countries attended the conference in Delhi in February. Under the theme 'growing big in digital', it brought together ideas on digital trends, technology, advertising, innovation and revenue strategies.

Juan Señor, president of UK's Innovation Media Consulting Group, got things rolling with a keynote address on driving a news media business to profitability. Señor presented 14 business models and one single strategy to transform a newsroom into a reader first model. The strategy is based on the 2019 'Innovation in News Media World Report' of which he is joint author.

"A newsroom should deliver content worth paying for. Everything that generates value should generate revenue," he said.

The two-day conference covered a range of topics dealing with the news media business including digital and programmatic advertising, video and the OTT space in India, subscription strategies and transformation. The first day covered digital advertising and alternative revenue sources, discussing wahys in which publishers can drive their business to profitability. Gone are the days when the biggest revenue source of a media house was advertising revenue - partnerships and alliances between publishers are the new normal; as is content syndication, e-commerce, podcasts, sponsorship and events.

The first day closed with presentation of the South Asian Digital Media Awards, in which there were more than 80 entries from 20 media companies. Among the 34 winners were Manorama Online for 'best news website', while BBC India won the 'best data visualisation' award.

The second day of the conference covered the road ahead for digital journalism and explored whether digital content might be a bubble waiting to burst. Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor of The Wire argued that it was not a bubble - "a lot of growth is still possible in digital journalism, especially since the source of credible content is drying up," he said.

Rupa Jha, head of Indian Languages at the BBC, spoke of video becoming a major content element consumed on digital media. "India is high on video consumption," she said. "The way ahead will be vidoes on investigative stories, experimentation with technology, and collaborating with independent studios and people in business.

"Having data to guide our content strategy is very important" she added.

Speakers also discussed the over-the-top (OTT) scenario in South Asia, and the threats, challenges and opportunities that accompany online streaming in the region. The Indian media market currently hosts more than 30 OTT players, with India expected to overtake South Korea within five years to become the world's eighth biggest OTT player.

The conference ended with a conversation between Navaneeth L (chief executive of The Hindu) and co-founder and chief executive of Quintillion Media Ritu Kapur (pictured). Navaneeth quoted a KPMG survey that by 2030, the digital consumer is going to be non-English speaking, mobile-phone user and increasingly willing to pay for content online. "The consumption of regional news is far higher than the consumption of English news in India," he said.

"India is largely a mobile-first market. As far as paying for content is concerned, Indian media has given away far too much for far too long for far too little. There is a sense of entitlement among consumers that media has to be free."

with WAN-Ifra South Asia

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