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March 22, 2011, 5:23 am UTC
In an industry where circulation figures drive the price of advertising, there could be a new model that may revolutionize the way customer interaction with an advertisement drives revenues. And it will be merit based!
Pay-per inquiry seems to be next big thing for newspaper advertising. Led by the internet for quite some time now, the pay-per-click or pay-per-lead model requires that advertisers only pay as per audience response. But can this model be successfully emulated by the print media and more importantly, is the Indian newspaper industry ready for this transition?
Pay-per-inquiry has already entered the newspaper market in the West and it seems headed for a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Needless to say, advertisers are the happiest lot since they are able to put a finger on what goes out vis-à-vis what comes in.
If industry sources are to be believed, there is considerable pressure on newspapers to move from the card rate regime to a more realistic scenario where advertisers can put the money where the response is. While this model has been a huge success with the online media due to its reporting abilities, it remains to be seen whether newspapers too possess strengths they can leverage to connect more audience directly to the advertisers and then get paid for it.
According to Eddie Ranse, a leading media analyst, the biggest advantage of the newspaper as a medium is its vast distribution pipeline. This advantage could not be more true for a country like India where newspaper still remains one of the most widespread and accessible media. It is true that the web has considerable reach in all class A and many class B and C cities in India.
The exponential growth of the IT industry has also contributed to the widespread use of online media for consumption of almost everything including news. However, this is a tiny group when pitted against the large majority in towns and villages in India where the day starts with their favorite local daily. So the online medium has a long way to go before it can threaten the existence of print medium in this country. That said, we can safely conclude that the pay-per-inquiry model can only enhance the already vibrant newspaper industry in this country, provided all the stakeholders understand and mitigate all challenges associated with the same.
One of the major challenges faced by the pay-per-inquiry model is tracking. Since user response determines the payment to be made to newspapers, response tracking needs to be set-up thoroughly before advertisers and newspapers can practically implement the model. In the online medium, it is easier to track responses. However, newspapers may need to ensure that advertisements focus more on getting the audience to call a number or send an email which can be tracked, rather than walk directly into a store, which cannot be tracked. At this juncture, the role of the advertising agency will be crucial since it means more work for them.
Says Pravin Raj, the Marketing Manager of a leading ad agency in India; “Implementing the pay-per-inquiry model in India requires considerable groundwork. First of all, there are many advertisers who approach newspapers directly. This group will find it very difficult to come to a consensus with the newspapers on the issue of tracking. Secondly, since payment to newspapers is based on response, there will be considerable pressure from newspapers to tweak messages to make tracking easy, a twist that will annoy both agencies and advertisers.” So while the pay-per inquiry model seems to have the right ingredients, it needs to be tested with niche products where tracking could be easier, says Pravin.
Another challenge that this model will face is the dilemma between ads targeting direct sales as opposed to ads directed at brand building. While direct sales can be tracked to some extent, the way brands get engraved in the minds of audience is a fact that may not be measurable as easily.
While no one seems to have all the answers to these questions right now, there seems to be consensus among advertisers, ad agencies and newspapers that they must come together simply because of the possibility of winning it offers everyone.
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