Panel Discussion: Aspirations and Challenges for Digital Publishers in 2020 and beyond

Team Readwhere takes pride in being a contributor in the digital publishing industry. After the informative session where various publishers joined us in PubMeet Mumbai, we wanted to do our bit to understand what the top entrepreneurs think about the digital publishing industry and its growth. What’s better than a panel discussion on all the aspirations and challenges for Digital Publishers!

We had some leading personalities as our panel members who have been serving in the publishing industry for years. The panellists included:

  • Mrs Vanita Keswani, CEO of Madison Media Sigma
  • Mr Uday Jadhav, CEO of Sakal Media Group
  • Mr Hemant Jain, Sr. EVP & Head of Digital Business at Lokmat Media
  • Mr Varun Mohan, Head of Digital Revenue of Republic World
  • Mr Manish Dhingra, CEO of Mediology Software

The conversation moderated by Mr Pradyuman Maheshwari, CEO of MxMIndia centred around how the publishing industry has shaped up over a decade, the challenges faced by various publishers and the future of digital publishing in the country. 

Let’s walk through the entire discussion in brief. Here are some of the major points discussed by the panellists.

Growth of Digital publishing in the linear television world

Varun from Republic World put forth his views stating that India is a ‘Television first’ market. The two key factors when we talk about digital publishing are:

How does a publisher or a stakeholder consider it in longer terms?

How well has the market grown to support this thought?

Television has become a habit for the masses as it has been with us over a long period of time. Going utterly digital at this time would not be wholly justified. But it is a considerable investment for the future. With the easily accessible internet and availability of smartphones, it becomes essential to invest and experiment with digital publishing. Also, the technology update is significant for digital markest as compared to the television. It becomes necessary to keep learning and keep innovating to disseminate content such that it creates engagement and impact as he stated, ‘Digital is the future’.

Established Media Players & New-comers working to provide digital news

As the print media has been in the game for decades, the big players have witnessed the entire phase of content distribution. Manish from Mediology had a firm view that many big publishers are doing great for a long time and know the knack of making things better. It includes introducing subscription-based models, live TV streaming, Ad-Supported models and many more. However, many budding publishers are still facing challenges. Talking about content distribution platform like Inshorts, which has become a success, Manish said that digital content would be the future. All it needs is a complete understanding of the opportunities and a strategy to implement it.

Advertisers investing in Digital Market

Investment is the key to grow bigger and better. Money and efforts invested today with proper strategy will show fruitful results in the future. Hemant from Lokmat Media expressed his views saying, ‘It’s difficult and time-consuming to recreate something exciting in the digital publishing market, but it is always a good choice to invest in something already good.’ Hence the idea of investing in the budding entrepreneurs from the digital market and targeting on monetization is an excellent thought.

Vanita being an advertiser herself, talked about the opportunity for investors in the digital space that television and digital is a lethal combination. The advertiser has to give focus in the digital area, and it can be a profitable deal. Along with innovation, doing things ahead of the journey by exploring digital and coming up with innovative ideas is essential for the growth of the business. 

Opportunity for publishers in 2020 and beyond

Talking about the opportunities in the digital publishing industry, all the panellists had a common thought. The digital publishing industry will grow better and update the way content is consumed. The future will be just more than content publishing and providing it to the users. It will be more about doing it in a simplified way where less manual efforts will be required. With the Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning technology, personalized content providing comfort and customization to every user in reading, the business will grow. The AL & ML technology will also help in auto composing the content, thus saving efforts, time, and creating more opportunities.

Uday from Sakal group gave an example of how they could manage to create news, distribute and grow for the Marathi consumers. After developing websites for the smart cities, Sakal group has witnessed that audience from Thane consuming the digital content. With this remarkable response in news consumption, it is essential to make a strategy around digital publishing. However, it is also essential to have a hybrid model for the same. 

The future of Digital Publishing

Bright Future! This is a one-word answer by all the panellists when asked about the future of digital publishing. Even if 60-65% of digital advertising money goes to Facebook and Google, there is still a significant room for innovation for the rest as the market is enormous. The entire publishing industry has got huge potential, and the future depends on how the publishers prioritize user experience. With several updates in the content consumption pattern in coming years expected, the business will grow. Various innovations like the subscription-based models, smart TVs with live streaming, showcasing relevant and specific content to the audience, the digital publishing industry will be a significant source of revenue.  

The event was a huge success as many ideas were shared by the experts, which will be good learning for the future.