Last month, I posted this which predicts that January, 2014 will be the year when all sorts of tangible media will see its sharp decline or complete annihilation i.e. tangible forms of media  like newspapers, magazines, books, DVDs, boxed software and video games will see its last daylight; at least in US. So, today this news item gave me some food for thought. Let me just paraphrase the news items first:

  • Chandamama – the comic strip which enthralled three generation of Indians is trying to be more contemporary. It is now looking beyond the traditional stories we have been used to. The firm is now looking to have science fiction as a genre that it will enthrall its readers with. More to that, they even launched an online edition Chandamama.com version 2 in November, 2008 with features that enable children to post stories, increase interactivity, shopping cart, SMS contests and archived issues in English, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. So to say the least, it’s heading towards the conversational marketing way to some extent with Web as the primary focus.
  • Dainik Jagran has joined hands with Yahoo to launch a co-branded Hindi portal. (Sources)
  • Times Internet now has full mobile versions of its newspapers (The Times of India and The Economic Times), much like The Financial Times mobile in the UK.
  • Network 18 has built up a separate division of web 18 entirely devoted to monetising its content over the internet. (Source)
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Now let’s just stop over here for a while. So, traditional old school publishing companies are going digital like for example, Chandamama which just got acquired by a Mumbai-based company called Geodesic Information Systems during mid-2007 is going digital, though with a conservative approach i.e. they are keeping their offline business model along with their online presence. Now it is a trend or what we are seeing nowadays. Some of the things which needs to be kept in mind while coming to a conclusion are:

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1. Most of the traditional publishing houses, be it newspapers, magazines, books etc have shifted to online or digital platform. (Personally I’ve more or less stopped consuming traditional print media since most of the news I devour everyday is in online format).

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2. Advertising dollars which forms the backbone for this industry are on a rise in online medium. The stats say “Indian Internet advertising is estimated at Rs 420 crore in 2008. Growing at 32% CAGR, it is expected to touch Rs 1,100 crore in 2012.” (Sources)

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3. Digitalisation is the future for most segments. And with rising internet & 3G mobile users, companies have to adopt this revolution with appropriate infrastructure, relevant business models and technology upgradation along with associated costs. The pace of adoption will determine industry dynamics which itself is showing positive trends Y-0-Y.

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4. Finally, due to recession, the newsprint prices have shot up by at least 50 per cent in the last six months and are eating into the profits of newspaper companies. Both The Economic Times and The Times of India from the Bennett & Coleman stable have increased their cover prices in different markets. The Times of India now costs Rs 4.50 in Mumbai opposed to Rs 4 earlier. Even DNA has hiked its cover price from Rs 2 to Rs 2.50 (Sources)

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So to put it in a framework, three things are quite evident:

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1. First, digitalisation of content and making it transportable across digital and mobile platforms. This is a big thrust for entertainment and media companies including print.

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2. Cost of reaching the target: A study says that over the last five years, the cost of reaching the target audience has risen four times, even though the basic TV viewing time has increased. But because there is an increase in the number of channels, advertisers are forced to purchase more spots to reach the target audience. So I believe the initial phase of transformation has started i.e. adopting digital channels to market.

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3. Content Monetization: This will be the most important parameter for both content creators i.e. publishers and advertisers. With proper metrics to calculate the ROI, I soon see most traditional publishers shifting slowly & steadily towards digital channels.

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So what do you think will happen in the next 5 years? Will we see most traditional media changing forms into more digital content? Please comment below. I’ve also included a online poll to suggest the same (Feed readers, please click through).

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