Jagran New Media (JNM) is the digital wing of Jagran Prakashan Limited – one of India’s leading communications groups with properties spanning print, digital, OOH, radio and activations. JNM reaches about 112 million users per month.
The brands together adopt an audience segmentation-based approach covering news, education, women, health, entertainment and fact check for their websites.
Different audiences consume content differently. Jagran New Media’s strategy was to understand how they could spread the brand across varied audiences by trying to understand who they are, where they are coming from, what they consume, etc.
Bharat Gupta, CEO, Jagran New Media, India, joined WAN-IFRA’s recent World News Media Congress to talk about how the brand started a transformative journey of decoding audience behaviour three years ago and consequently based its product strategy on the same.
Jagran New Media’s core business proposition covers three points:
Build scale: India has an internet penetration rate of about 55 percent. How does the company use platforms and technology to scale the audience in terms of discovery? How does it increase its advertiser base? And how does it amplify authoritative voices across the internet?
Drive impact: What is the impact of content and technology on a progressive society, on business environment, and on digital ecosystems?
Become sustainable: The sum of all effort equals a scalable and sustainable business model that translates into diversifying revenue and audience streams. Scalable and sustainable tech. And finally, the foundation of any organisation is the culture. How do you create a progressive, and scalable and sustainable data driven culture within the organisation?
Determining your North Star
India currently has the second largest internet population with more than 65 percent of consumers younger than 35 consuming content digitally.
About 60-70 percent of traffic discovery is through search and social, and increasingly, the consumption is shifting from generic to more specific.
“Publishers must be clear about wanting to be one product for everyone or exploring a niche,” said Gupta. “Understanding audiences is a must, but retaining them is even more challenging. That is where the introduction of audience segmentation can perhaps help companies move forward.”
What is the purpose of a publisher’s website in terms of content? What do they want their audiences to feel or learn? How can they make it more functional? According to Gupta, in a country such as India, where the population is very young, millennials like to be involved and have their voices heard. How should publishers enable, empower and engage their audiences?
According to JNM’s research, while several publishers have been producing content, the algorithm is increasingly shifting around the philosophy of EAT – Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. This is an indicator of the urgent need to shift from generic to focussed and expertise-based content.
An important marketing insight for shaping JNM’s business model came in the form of audience affinity where the brand found only 34 percent of their consumers were interested in news. When JNM began its transformation journey, it quickly realised that while news is an essential element to bring the business to scale, the art is in diverting and growing those users into non-news buckets once the scale has been achieved.
What are the technologies required to make this user transition and scale your content pipeline in this direction? Taking an example from JNM’s book – the brand launched a dedicated website for women called “HerZindagi” in 2017. The website, which recorded 3 million users in its first two years, now clocks 30 million women users per month.
How did it achieve this significant jump? According to Megha Mamgain, Head of Lifestyle and Health at JNM, it did so by understanding audience needs, becoming a trusted source, producing good quality and error free content, not losing sight of its core values, leveraging data and dashboards, and forming strategic collaborations.
HerZindagi was one of the first few publications to have partnered with Google in its Web Stories project.
“This visual storytelling format is a big value add for the site and has given excellent results in increasing users,” said Mamgain. “Another initiative that has just been launched under ‘User Generated Content’ is ‘HerVoice’, which aims to serve as a platform for users who want to write and share their stories with our readers.”
“We suddenly saw a big spike because once you have a clear north star, you tend to constantly chase that purpose,” said Gupta. “It is important to diversify into non-news categories keeping eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions) in mind because non-news categories enjoy a far higher eCPM than news.”
Gupta also recommended keeping subscription opportunities and allied models such as branded content in mind, which can prove helpful in bringing some sustainability to your operations.
Seven signals for growth
As per Comscore, India has 467 million internet users, with a news penetration rate of 98 percent. So, even though about 460 million people in India are consuming news, in terms of time spent that figure contributes to only 4 percent or 75 million minutes per month. This is where audience segmentation comes into play. For entertainment verticals, the user pool is almost similar but records a whopping difference in the time spent at 23 percent.
This is important in terms of impact. Publishers must use this data to encourage their readers to consume more of their content, identifying the categories that help them not just expand their scale but also to facilitate usage.
JNM has identified these seven signals to help its growth:
Foundation: Third-party cookies are fading out, which raises the question if there is a need for Data Management Platforms (DMP)?
DMP is a software platform built for collecting, managing and analysing data about ad campaigns and audiences data. It is useful for audience segmentation, building lookalike audiences, and optimising paid media spend. Gupta said for publishers to understand their audiences better, a data-driven environment equipped with the right people, processes, tools and dashboards is a must.
Purpose – scale vs high engagement: What do you want to achieve? Do you want scale or high engagement because both these models will translate into different kinds of sustainability and growth.
“What is the audience science to understand the consumption or what is the technology layer for content optimisation, performance advertising or to introduce a subscription model? Each of these doors open to a different path,” Gupta said.
Audience experience: The media landscape is changing rapidly and so are audience consumption patterns. People are no longer consuming content passively, but in a way that is becoming increasingly interactive and immersive. The publishing game is no longer merely producing news but producing it in a way that is purposeful, engages the community and allows them to voice their opinions.
Balance: Identification between building, buying and partnering is important for publishers. “Publishers must try not to do everything by themselves,” Gupta said. He added that they should consider their overall technology and content requirements and determine which things they can do themselves, which they should buy and where they can partner with other companies to introduce solutions.
Combating misinformation: One of the best results of digitisation has been the democratisation of information. Unfortunately, this also means that everyone can produce and amplify information leading to misinformation. How should publishers combat this? By way of literacy, advocacy and policy.
Relevance: If you have a digital brand, you have to make it stand out because the cost of entry into journalism is now very low. Gupta advised figuring out a strategy that best works for your brand to increase visibility and adapt to newer and younger consumers who are not accustomed to traditional media.
Culture: Producing a scalable, sustainable, data-driven culture is of the utmost importance. The key here is introducing agile and innovative working, being more empathetic with your teams, and learning development, skill applications and wealth creations.
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