In today’s digital world, there is no industry that can escape disruption, particularly a vulnerable one like the print media. The classifieds-led traditional print advertising business has so far been steadily losing out to web and mobile-based applications. So, amid this declining ad share, when a traditional media company grows its revenue by a whopping 38% every year for five years running, you can’t help but take notice.
The company in question is Hindustan Media Ventures (HMVL), owner of the Hindi daily Hindustan, which has a readership base of over 15 million across Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. “Unlike in urban India, growth in rural India is much better, since income levels have not been badly hit despite low economic growth. On top of that, we have government spending through NREGS and other schemes, which have helped rural audiences retain their purchasing power. The shift in the regional focus of advertisers has driven the industry’s growth,” says Vivek Khanna, CEO, HMVL.
According to him, the fact that the rural market has been less responsive to the growing e-commerce, internet marketing and television advertising industries has allowed print media — particularly in Hindi — to get higher traction. Besides, companies have also shifted their focus on rural and regional markets to compensate for slow growth elsewhere, thus leading to higher growth in advertising.
“Over the past few years, revenue from regional advertisements has increased in the overall print advertising pie. Together, Hindi and other vernacular markets accounted for 64% of total print revenue in CY14 compared with 59% in CY10,” says Manoj Behera, an analyst who tracks the company at PhillipCapital. Companies in telecom, banking, automobile, education and real estate are now turning largely regional in terms of targeting a particular market.
“Categories keep on changing over time — today, FMCG is the fastest growing segment in advertising, while education was growing much faster earlier. Going forward, categories such as internet-based or e-commerce advertising might overtake other categories, which is already happening in some cases,” says Amit Jaiswal, co