Election, ad spends and book piracy

The biggest democracy goes to poll this April-May. Find out why print wins no matter who comes to power

22 Mar 2014 | By Mihir Joshi

Elections: Time to mint money
Indian politicians are expected to spend around $5 billion on campaigning for elections next month - a sum second only to the most expensive US presidential campaign of all time - in a splurge that could give India's floundering economy a temporary boost. Print is expected take a lion’s share of the total campaign spending as it remains the only media that can truly reach the masses of the country, especially tier II, tier III and rural population.

India's advertising industry expects to see an $800 million injection during the election season. Regional language newspapers are expected to lead the way as many parliament hopefuls will try and reach out to as many of their constituents as they can. Print will also dominate the outdoor political advertising as digital outdoor advertising is almost absent even in the country’s major cities.

A printing press in Cuttack is doing brisk business. In the last one week, Trilochan Mohanty's unit in College Square received orders to print over 10,000 banners of various sizes. According to sources, there are about 40 to 50 flex printers in the city and majority of them are earning good money by printing banners and posters of the candidates. 

Expenditure for the general election is Rs 70 lakh per candidate from Rs 40 lakh. The guesstimates are a spend of Rs 15-20,000 crore. This was Rs 10,000 crore last time.  

Another 50% of this gets pumped in by unaccounted sources and "black money", say experts. “This will boost public expenditure but it is not enough to revive the economy. But this general election, even if we account for inflation, the total spend is much higher,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings in a report in Business Standard.  

It is hard to account for all the funds that are invested as it goes much beyond the officially sanctioned amount, point out an observer. It is an extra Diwali for them in one year,” a top publishing company executive who did not wish to be quoted said. 
In fact, several printing presses like Indian Printing Works are favourites with the netas because of the "luck" factor. To get their pamphlets, posters and booklets printed from a particular printer is considered a lucky charm at times. Usually, it is the mid to lower level of printing companies, with turnover in the range of Rs 1 to 10 crore which make the most of this opportunity.


Print ad spends will be up by 8.5% in 2014
GroupM in their annual estimated advertising expenditure report, called the This Year, Next Year (TYNY) 2014, have predicted print ad spend to rise to 8.5% in 2014, bouyed by the growth of vernacular print publications across India and the biggest ever General Elections in the country.

Meanwhile TAM media research, a joint venture between Nielsen (India) and Kantar Market Research has released its AdEx report 2013 for television and print media.

The advertising volume on television grew 12% in 2013 as against 10% in 2012, and that of print grew 6% in 2013 vis-a-vis 9% in 2012. These figures were released as part of the all-important AdEx for the year 2013 for the print and television sectors.

Ad spend numbers from across media agency networks have already been revealed as have the industry size figures from the FICCI-KPMG report earlier this month, but the figures from AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research, give a detailed breakdown of volumes consumed by various industry sectors and corporate.

Among print ads, the B2C and online shopping category is out from the Top 10. OTC product range and mobile phones are the two new product categories in the Top 10, the latter indicating the amount of ad spends by mobile phone makers.

TAM India’s panel is among the top five in the world with the largest sample size comprising of 36000+ respondents/individuals across 225 cities. AdEx India offers Indian advertising analysis data across 15 different India Languages and monitors close to 700 various product categories.

Government’s social advertisements, real estate advertisements, automotive sector ads and hospitals and clinics contributed 8%, 5%, 4% and 4% respectively to the total print advertising spend respectively. SBS Biotech, Naaptol.com, Hindustan Unilever and Geetanjali gems were biggest contributor to the total advertising spend.

The growth in print is expected to come exclusively from newspapers, with the magazine advertising market estimated to shrink by 5% this year after remaining stagnant for three years.

Indian publishers’ Achilles heel – book piracy
Book piracy has been rampant over the last 20 years that the inter-American Publishers Group estimates that globally about 50 billion book pages are illegally reprinted every year. Asian and Latin American countries have been the main culprit and book piracy in these developing countries have reached alarming dimensions.

Reprography — the method of obtaining photocopies — is common in educational institutions all over India. This is the main reason for the inability of the publishers to sell books in adequate numbers. In India according to 2011 figures, about 15,000 publishers publish about 70,000 books annually in 22 languages. According to the Federation of Booksellers and Publishers Association of India (FBPAI), book piracy poses a major threat to the 7000-crore publishing industry in the country and results in a loss of 400 crores to publishers in India.

Technological advancement has facilitated the burgeoning book piracy. To reprint a book illegally, all that a culprit needs is two copies of the original, a scanner, a computer with optical recognition programme and a small rotary press. With these common facilities, multiple pirated copies of a book can be produced within couple of days. With the help of these technologies not only is the text copied but also the design, the cover, the colour and the bar code, making it difficult to tell a pirated copy from a genuine one.

The book piracy trade in India is an efficient one, with its own peculiar systems and rituals. Those who sell the books on the streets and at the traffic lights have no idea where the pirated stock comes from; they pick up their stock from vendors. Some vendors often receive tokens to pick up parcels at the railway station offices; some pirates use a perpetually changing set of courier offices.

Most book pirates have much better market research than most publishers in India. The trade is shifting into the hands of a few large operators who run networks of illegal printers and vendors around the country - gets his news by tracking over 600 distributors and printing presses across North India (a major book printing hub). Their charts rate textbook publishers and trade publishers by their track record of bestsellers over a 10-year period. They prefer to use printers whose chief product is religious books as a cover for their clandestine printing, because the police are reluctant to raid those presses.

PS: Whoever travels to Mumbai, should visit the revamped Nehru Centre Library in Worli. With 25,000 books on its shelves, an online catalogue and open to all, it makes it one of its kind. More power to books.