The Great Indian Big Billion Day Festival!
“In the fight of eCommerce giants — Flipkart and Amazon, the winner is — The Times of India”
This phrase is quite common now-a-days and rightly so. Almost every single newspaper has ever increasing number of pages for advertisements. Regional language ones are not left behind. Advertisement based revenue models are here to stay, and till then we’ll keep buying — ‘The Times of Advertising’, ‘Advertisement times’, ‘Advertising Chronicles’ and many more, till this joke wears off.
The meagre price we pay for these papers barely covers any cost in the entire newspaper printing process let alone paying for good journalists scooping out news for us. We are not paying them, all of these companies and governments are. Their sole objective is to put their own word out. In such a scenario, how can the press be free, and trusted. Bias in news, under reporting, over reporting, all of this gets inbuilt in this revenue model. With no cross checking of facts and figures and compulsion to print a news or cease to exist, the situation is surely dire. It is of utmost importance that newspapers, for which we pay so little, are unadulterated, (also, un-adult-rated *cough — Bombay Times) and the information they give is factual and unbiased. Across the world the story is the same, John Oliver has recently brought up this fiasco.
Coming back to advertisements. Advertising is looking at a very dark and dystopian future for us consumers and the world as a whole. With subconscious advertisements, brainwave mapping, with every click being monitored (*cough Facebook), gargantuan data breaches(*cough Facebook), surveillance systems connected to advertising(*cough Facebook) and the illusion of choice. We can talk about this absence of free will sometime later, for now, lets come back to the Medium, no not this app you autocorrect, the medium — newspapers.
With the world going digital, advertisements in newspapers continue to see an upward trend.
As per the forecast, by 2020, newspapers will have Rs 28,670 crore, or 38.9% share of the total advertising expenditure.
But why do digital giants need so much publicity in the print media?Specifically even when their digital information hogger is constantly in our hands and reaching out for our perpetual glance? (Hey that rhymes!)
One possible reason could be, the attention span on the a digital medium versus that on print. Print medium, I believe, has a sense of investment — of time and money that digital probably does not. If one has bought or even taken the effort of picking up a free newspaper from the airport or office or the neighbour’s doorstep, chances are that they will not skim through it but read at least a few headlines here and there. Otherwise why would Playboy still sell so many copies in spite of the avalanche of free digital options! We automatically invest more time in physical objects that we can grasp with our hands. I have talked about the importance of the sense of touch in a few of my older articles!
This gives me a segue to talk about how newspapers have a better user experience. As with everything in the world, a better user experience will always triumph! A newspaper doesn’t need scrolling. If you are annoyed by handling the the tall ones, there are small size ones available in the language of your choosing. The newspaper, by virtue of being physical, is a finite container of information in terms of dimensions. The question of discoverability or lack of it thereof, is quite low. It would generally not be possible to have a pathetic and completely incomprehensible page layout. All the ‘interesting product offers’ are seen collated and organised in one glance. Glossy paper is used to woo consumers further. And of course, there is no ad blocker for a newspaper! Yet.
There is no ad blocker for a newspaper, yet!
Even if you are annoyed by the advertisements, you have to turn all the pages to get to the actual news (if such a thing exists). And in that process you end up fixated on to a random product that sublimely enters your mind and slyly enters your shopping cart.
Then there is nostalgia. You learnt a new language through a newspaper. (This may be on the wane sadly). If you aren’t doing anything and see a newspaper lying around, neatly folded, looking at you, chances are you will pick it up and start reading. Unless there is a fly around then it will become a universally accepted fly swatter. Again, both sadly on the wane.
And of course, chai. First thing to get you hooked in the morning is chai and paper. You turn the advertisement pages over, and a the peripheral vision captures things that you won’t actively remember. The offers revolves in your head the entire day, you talk to your colleagues about what you read and have conversations regarding how today’s papers are filled with ads. Heck you even start writing an article on Medium about it!
You even start noticing the phones and smartwatch on everyone’s hands. Or reminisce that front load washing machine you considered as ‘rich people’s gadget’ and remember the offers you read in the morning paper and by the time evening sets in, and you reach home and grab your chai, you end up firing up that one more chrome tab, Amazon or Flipkart!
Ahh, how you rule us!