First Post from Network 18 is all about delivering today’s news today. The TVC talks about how the planet suffers and the daily grind that the system goes through in delivering newspapers to our door-steps. The commercial also questions if this all worth it given the relevance of day old information that newspapers carry. Newspapers in the west are seeing a decline and may not see very many sunny days in the future. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times, told the 2010 International Newsroom Summit in London that “We will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future”.
While the situation may seem grim for the western print industry, Indian print industry is not ‘down in the dumps’ yet. According to this IRS report, print grew at a CAGR of 3.2% between 2010 and 2011. However, the internet grew at 32.5% during the same period which translates to a better growth of roughly 10 times. A deeper dive into the same report reveals that the increase is primarily in regional dailies and the circulation of English dailies are actually de-growing. This also translates that regional media publications such as Malyala Manorama, Prajavani and Dainik Jagran are not affected by the digital media. So where does this leave First Post?
While the commercial is clearly targeting the English newspapers, the offering itself is not unique. What First Post offers is not so different compared to what news channels websites such as NDTV and BBC offer. Network 18’s own news channel IBNLIVE also has its website which is an online edition of the television news channel. What First Post needs to do is position itself to be a unique offering and this by changing its current positioning. While it has surely caught the viewer’s attention through the ad, it may not result in a shift of habit immediately. More so, this may not result in traffic to the First Post website but may actually aid traffic to news websites in general. Most people I know often visit the websites of their favourite newspaper or television news channel for their daily news byte. To wean these visitors away is not only challenging but also one that will consume lot of resources. To generate traffic to its own website and bring in repeat visits what First Post should first do is distance itself from competition. It can achieve this by one or more strategies such as distinctive product offering, running a flagship column and running webcasts. It should offer news that is unconventional, revealing and relevant; and this by building a strong consumer engagement. Putting it simply, it should offer a distinctive product proposition in the digital publishing market.
Verdict: First Post is taking the ‘road less travelled’ to reach an already overcrowded destination. First Post should rethink its positioning and offer something unique.