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WAN-IFRA Digital Media Conference focuses on exploring AI usability and early adaptation

The annual edition of WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media India Conference was held in New Delhi on March 13 and 14. Discussions ranged from newsroom transformation, business and monetisation strategies to artificial intelligence, managing subscriptions and data-based decision-making. The Digital Media Awards South Asia 2023 were also presented

WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media India Conference in its 12th year had the theme, ‘Harnessing technology to scale digital business and drive growth’. The conference featured an informative programme facilitating learning and networking opportunities among industry executives and journalists. The two-day conference started with the keynote address by Andy Budiman, CEO, KG Media, Indonesia.

Budiman shared insights about the transformation journey of KG Media, one of South East Asia’s largest media companies and the publishers of Kompas Gramedia. His address touched upon creating new growth engines for the group towards a sustainable future. “News publishers can do several things to achieve sustainable journalism. We can make our content valuable and relevant to our audience, young and old, by exploring various business models to monetise the engagement and influence we have over our audience and by adapting our operation to remain efficient as we move towards an uncertain future,” he said. “Reaching the promised land of sustainability is a long journey, but we are optimistic that we are heading in the right direction,” he added.

Suparna Singh, Puneet Gupt and Aroosh Chopra at the panel discussion.

Day 1 of the conference featured conversations around newsroom transformation, business and monetisation strategies, leveraging video, product thinking to boost audience engagement and drive subscription growth, and exploring new revenue streams and deconstructing ad alliances. One of the highlights from the first day of discussions was the panel led by Suparna Singh, co-founder and CEO of Frammer AI, comprising Puneet Gupt, COO, Times Internet, and Aroosh Chopra, group director, Punjab Kesari Group. They talked about navigating the Indian digital landscape and strategising for 2024 and beyond.

“We are using AI, Gen AI, and predictive AI across all the parts of the ecosystem to drive revenue, reduce costs, improve productivity, and drive innovation in general,” said Gupt. “As an organisation, we need to be agile, try out everything, select what works well, and quickly discard what does not,” he added, referring to other priorities for 2024. “We plan to go more hyper-local in the digital domain, and that will be the focus for our group,” said Chopra, adding, “We are looking to offer a bundle offer to attract more readers and advertisers to our website, in addition to exploring more options.”

On Day 2 of the conference, the discussions focused on artificial intelligence, subscriptions, data-based decision-making, and diversified revenue streams. Juan Senor, president of Innovation Media Consulting, UK, began the day with a keynote address on the Innovation in News Media World Report. He presented 14 business models news publishers could have and suggested that a publisher should have at least four to five of these models in their business at the same time. Senor urged publishers to rediscover their values as original storytellers of what is newsworthy and make strategic choices. 

For the record: Digital Media Awards South Asia Winners 2023.

Purva Misra, chief HR officer, India Today Group, said: “While adopting new technologies such as AI in the workplace, avoid a job-cut mindset. Make generative technology your friend or assistant to get the best results. Create a culture of rewarding experimentation (including failures), and incentivise the adoption of new technology and encourage its use.”

Day 2 concluded with the Digital Media Awards South Asia 2023, recognising the efforts of publishers in South Asia. ​​From innovative data visualisation projects to reader revenue strategies, out-of-the-box newsletter ideas, and the use of AI in newsrooms, the awards presented projects that inspired. The 2023 edition of the awards recorded more than 100 entries and featured news publishers competing in 12 Gold, Silver, and Bronze categories. The Quint, The Hindu, Prothom Alo and BBC News emerged as the winners, amongst others. HT Labs (Hindustan Media Ventures bagged the Champion Publisher of the Year 2023 Award.

(This article is based on a WAN-IFRA release.)