Innovative digital content and subscriptions help magazines to stay in the game amid Covid-19

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Covid-19 pandemic had a major toll on the print media industry. People started switching from print media to digital formats. Magazine publishing companies quickly adapted to changing consumer preferences by bringing innovative ideas to the digital content and subscription methods. Although print media is passing through a very rough time as the result of the pandemic, creative presentation of digital contents and innovations has been a life-changer for magazines.

Brands are now likely to advertise in the online versions of magazines as more readers are now accessing magazines online, even though advertisers have backed out from advertising in the printed versions. Industry experts also state that while India is preparing for easing the lockdowns step by step, most magazine publishing companies will continue to stick to the ‘digital only’ format for another three months. Additionally, annual, bi-annual, and quarterly subscriptions have helped to keep the revenues from falling.

Amar Chitra Katha, India’s most popular publisher of graphic novels, remarkably saw a rise in the number of users on their apps, during the last two months. They provided their digital content free for the first 30 days from the subscription.  “We made our apps free for 30 days and the response has been overwhelming. From 1 lakh users we grew to 5.5 lakh,” said Preeti Vyas, President and COO, Amar Chitra Katha Pvt Ltd. Tinkle comics, National Geographic Traveller India and National Geographic magazine are also published by Amar Chitra Katha.

According to Vyas, the brand had been innovative in their ideas to transform written story formats to more interactive, audio, and video content. Many top publishers have brought down the time gap to keep the readers engaged. Amar Chitra Katha for instance came up with 20 pages per week issue on their online platform, instead of the usual 48 pages once in two weeks in the printed segment.

Another instance of innovative strategies comes from Manorama Weekly, a family entertainment magazine published from Kerala. They distributed vegetable seeds with each copy of the magazine for free during the last two months. This, as a result, increased sales by 30% according to Varghese Chandy,  VP-Marketing, and Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama. Sharing his views on the advertising scenario in Kerala, he said there was never a decline in local readers. “Since we have the content, the reader and the reach in place along with the backing of being in a state that has best tackled the Covid-19 situation, brands should look at advertising here for better returns,” says, Chandy.

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