Thomas Jacob on Mail Today’s launch into India’s booming newspaper market
Apr 3, 2008
Thomas Jacob, Singapore-based International Development Director of Associated Newspapers, described Mail Today, a newly launched JV newspaper in India to the IFRA conference today. For more on India’s newspaper market, see the video/posting I did with Raju Narisetti of Mint, another newly launched Indian newspaper.
A large British publisher
Daily Mail and General Trust, is London-listed with more than 2bn pounds in revenue per year from the Daily Mail and other titles, such as Lite, Metro and Evening Standard
historically focussed on the middle class
When founded on May 4, 1896, the Daily Mail ran with the taglines of “The Busy Man’s Daily Journal” and ‘A penny newspaper for a haypenny.” Tabloid style was clear from the beginning with a story in issue one of a Barmaid who was actually a man (What is it with Brits?). Editorial mantra: Explain, Clarify and simplify.
and still serving Britain’s mid-market today
The Daily Mail has wedged itself in between the quality and downmarket sectors. Daily Mail’s readers are 49 percent male and 51% female, with 72 percent reading no other national Daily. Nearest competitor to the Daily Mail’s 2.33 million copy circulation is 700,000. This is within the context of Britain’s highly competitive newspaper market.
now looks at India’s macro economic potential
India has a 8-9 percent GDP growth projected, a retail explosion and 62 percent of population under the age of 32.
an Indian newspaper industry poised for growth
India’s level of 117 copies per thousand people compares with 540 in Hong Kong, 385 in the UK and 250 in the US. India’s current adspend is just 0.38% of GDP, compared with a level of 0.9 to .98 percent in many developed markets. Circulation is growing for all newspapers and local ad growth is running at 23 percent.
and targeted a perceived market opening
Dominated by broadsheets with passive “newspapers of record” feel, so the Mail Today is intended to be more lively and offering a differentiated product aimed at the aspiring middle class.
but faced with limits on foreign ownership
Legal limit of investment is 26 percent for foreign companies.
found a local partner in India Today
The famous weekly news magazine (highest circulation mag) was looking to enter the same zone. Both publications share values and similar ownership structure. Joining an established partner would make the selling of ads easier.
and quickly signed the deal
From start of discussions, JV was signed in 3 months, with newspaper launched after 6 months.
launched the paper
The 48-page compact size newspaper was printed in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida on November 16 2007 with a print run of 110,000 copies. Based around a subscription model, the newspaper has the same fonts and feel as the Daily Mail.
to positive response from readers
Key differentiators mentioned by readers: Size and racier presentation style.
comparison of headlines on same day
Tat get keys to Jag – Hindustan Times
Jaguar is now an Indian Beast – Times of India
The Empire Strikes Back – Mail Today
“We are not writing for the investors, but trying to write the story that people will speak about between themselves and that is reflected in these headlines,” Jacob said.
the writing style is different
Indian newspapers have traditionally responded to rising newsprint prices by reducing font size. Instead, the Mail Today increased font size, concentrated on simple English, detail on sports and crisper news. Articles are summarized in first two paragraphs. All inside pages are laid out to look like a front page. The paper used was also slightly brighter, which people liked.
intention is to attract women and young readers
Larger pictures and graphics to explain stories, center photo spreads often related to the story; a varied rhythm mix of light and shade (half of the pages have white headlines on black background and half the other way around). Very few structural signals, like traditional newspaper sections. A weekly large woman-focussed section: “Femail” At least one dedicated Bollywood page per day. Last page as entry point: (sports). Overall focus on major middle class issues: Food, housing education and Health. “Good Health” section of 7-8 pages once per week.
How often is Daily Mail involved?
There is no daily role for Daily Mail. The Daily Mail brought in an editorial team at the start and now does occasional one-to-one video conferences.
How are adverting sales going?
“This is an entirely new product, so we are still talking to advertisers. This will take them a while to understand. We think you need to wait one year for advertisers to take you seriously. We have, of course, factored that into the budget and are confident that advertising will follow.”