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A discussion on the drivers for publishing success

Smita Salgaonkar, country manager, Data and Digital Media, at India’s Media.Monks, a global content, data, and media powerhouse, spoke at the INMA South Asia Media Summit on understanding how to create breakthrough growth through reader understanding, value exchange and data maturity. Susan Philip reports

Designing reader segments is an important step towards the goal of understanding readers, Smita Salgaonkar said. She was speaking at the recently concluded INMA (International News Media Association) South Asia Media Sunmit. Readers can be divided into Casual (Fly-by) Readers, Engaged Readers and Brand Lovers. The first category refers to those who make only a single visit, have less than three page-views in 30 days, and are low in engagement but high on quantity, she explained.

On the other hand, engaged readers are those who visit the site every few days, read more than one article per day, and perform engagement activities for over two weeks. Brand lovers have a high article consumption, registering over 50 page views in as many days. The key is to measure content performance using metrics correlated to the growth of high value segments. Analysing reader value hinges on Recency (when they last visited), Frequency (how often they visited) and Volume (how many articles they have read), Salgaonkar said.

Salgaonkar explained that “when readers consent to offer their data, they give us the ability to measure their consumption and engagement patterns, helping us measure editorial performance and optimize content. This brings editorial and data analytics teams together to create a sophisticated data-informed content strategy.” She also pointed out that “the goal of data-informed content strategy is to increase user engagement by moving readers down the publishing funnel, creating increasingly larger groups of highly valuable readers.”

Classifying readers as casual, loyal, brand lovers and subscribers, Salgaonkar said it had been shown that an emotional connect is absent in casual readers while it is highest in subscribers, and the same gradation can be seen while assessing customer lifetime value. Response to content, advertising exposure and communication are all different for the different categories, and getting the statistics right under all these heads is crucial for reader understanding.

Coming to value exchange, Salgaonkar said a properly executed value exchange system relies on the right orchestration of complex technologies, and is a give-and-take process. “Readers expect us to surface content they need promptly. We expect readers to offer us easy and consented access to their demographics and interests,” she told the gathering.

Brands will need to create genuine value exchange use cases and generate more content to make it enticing for readers to want to lend their data, in order to achieve breakthrough growth, Salgaonkar felt. She gave the examples of offering shopping discounts like unlocking coupons, incentives like 10 minutes of ad-free music, providing a bonus ‘life’ while playing games and 10 free articles to read, and enabling access to more members on dating apps.

A successful value exchange requires syncing on brand values, finding reader value alignment, developing value strategies and the ability to deliver. Explaining the first point, she said users who trust brands are twice more likely to offer their data. To find reader value alignment, the focus should be on what the users need, not so much on who they are. “The reader insights that our advertisers require are not the same as what we should value,” she stressed.

To develop value strategies, different ways to provide value to readers need to be identified. “For example, they may be here to read, but they may stay for the notifications,” Salgaonkar suggested. And elaborating on the last point – being able to deliver – her advice was “Use your existing technology stack to maintain data governance and compliance while retaining the ability to personalise for readers.”

Elaborating on the end-user personalised experience, Salgaonkar noted that “now, privacy compliance is the bare minimum expected for establishing long-term reader relationships. As publishers become more innovative, they secure more trust and unlock the insights needed to generate a hyper-personalized experience for the reader.”

The two-day summit discussed how the South Asian news media are embracing cutting-edge strategies to shape the future of news publishing.



  • Acquiring and retaining readers and increasing share of attention
  • Building valuable direct-to-consumer relationships with readers
  • Delivering high-impact, relevant advertising that does not diminish the reader experience
  • Putting in place privacy centric measures to build future-proof solutions
  • Using technology as an enabler to reach digital maturity
  • Adopting a data-driven mindset to drive business decisions
  • Seamlessly integrating reporting and measurement to enable decision-making at scale

(The writer is assistant editor, RIND Survey.)

October 2022