With #IRS2017 now behind us, it is time for publishers to look ahead.The IRS has indeed been a shot in the arm for publishers. Apart from pure numbers, the growth trends across the print media as well as inregions, has been really encouraging and would have in the normal course helped publishers to increase both yields as well as revenues.
However, most publishers charted their own nemesis and months in advance.
The two key happenings during the preceding months that affected the print media landscape more than the others were undoubtedly, Demonetisation and the GST Bogey.
The way publishers reacted to these is what is creating a cascading effect on the road ahead for print.
In November 2016, demonetisation was announced and with no cash in the system, coupled witha decline in consumption of products and services, advertising spends reduced drastically.
Most publishers including the leaders in most markets dropped their advertising rates to pick up whatever business they could, to ensure profitability. By the first quarter of 2017, the cash crunch eased slowly, with the government pumping in cash as well as the increase in digital wallets and move to online banking etc.
With the economy looking up, people felt the worst was over. However, the introduction of GST in the second quarter of the year was good enough reason for advertisers and clients to once again reduce spends.
The net effect of both these key happenings ensured that most publishers reduced their advertising rates to garner revenues so as to achieve targets. The leaders started discounting which left no choice for the rest to follow. The general feedback across publishers is that the revenue growth for the current financial year has been either flat or grown in single digit.
One needs to understand that during the last four years (which include the demonisation and the GST era), no updated research data was available for planning. Yet most publishers reduced their rates to garner revenues, now with IRS 2017 showing good numbers and growth, will these publishers be able to increase their rates?
The question that comes to mind is whether publishers who have maintained growth or have grown in IRS 2017, would they able to increase their rates and reach at least the level they were operating before demonetisation? The publishers who have declined or lost their position to competition would have a tougher challenge to hold on to the rates they have been operating post-demonetisation
With revenue pressure and profitability increasing, publishers find themselves at the crossroads. It is very clear that publishers must work to find their long-term solution and not rely only on quick-fix solutions to problems and issues.