A Study of First Page Advertising Trends in Select Indian Newspapers

By Poonia, Arun Kumar; Chauhan, Gajendra Singh et al. | IUP Journal of Marketing Management, November 2015 | Go to article overview

A Study of First Page Advertising Trends in Select Indian Newspapers


Poonia, Arun Kumar, Chauhan, Gajendra Singh, Sharma, Meenakshi, Das, Madhusmita, IUP Journal of Marketing Management


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

The advertisers tr y to reach the masses by displaying advertisements whereever possible. Advertising helps a company to communicate its products' features and benefits to markets through the mass media (Belch and Belch, 2004). One of the measuring tools for advertisers is newspapers; the same is very much evident when one picks up any newspaper, as it is flooded with a plethora of ads about numerous products. Advertising plays a significant role in educating consumers regarding the products and serves to communicate the benefits of a brand, an integral part of why consumers buy (Norton, 1994). The reason for using newspapers as advertising vehicle is that the most frequent and important type of advertising is 'commercial consumer advertising'-advertising directed towards a mass audience with the aim of promoting sales of a commercial product or service (Leech, 1972).

Probably, the very first newspaper was not intended to be a vehicle for advertisers, as it has become now. The earliest of ads that can be seen, appeared in newspapers in the form of the latest merchandise from England around the early 1700s. Other goods advertised then were patent medicines; the first brands as we know them today were a category of advertisers.

In the 18th century, concrete advertising began with classified advertising. This was also the time when advertisements appeared for the first time in print in Hickey's Bengal Gazette, which was India's first newspaper (weekly) (Dagli, 2001). The first decade of the present century saw a tremendous increase in the reach of Indian media. In fact, the Indian media is booming on all the fronts: print, electronic and web journalism (Vanita, 2003).

The increased audience has led the advertisers to grab the opportunity with both the hands. The print media, especially newspapers, are the front-runners in carr ying advertisements to the masses. The whole newspaper industr y is totally dependent on advertising revenues to sustain themselves.

Recently, The Times of India closed its weekend newspaper, The Crest Edition for the want of advertisements: "Alas, for any venture to be self-sustaining, revenues need to at least match costs; critical acclaim alone cannot keep it alive forever" (The Crest Edition, p. 1, July 20, 2013). This highlights the very symbiotic relationship that exists between a newspaper and the advertisements appearing in it. Through the entire length and breadth of a newspaper, copious advertisements of var ying size and degree appear in myriad forms.

The very first page of any newspaper is the first point of interaction with the readers, which carries the most important news and events. So, it is quite obvious that the first page is probably the most viewed and vital part of a newspaper, thus attracting advertisers to milk it to their benefit. The placement of an ad on the first page of a newspaper increases its chance of 'catching' the eye of the reader.

The present paper attempts to look into the first page advertising trends in different language newspapers, across India. Thus, this page, with maximum chance of interaction, has become a crucial cog in the wheel for advertisers as well as researchers.

Literature Review

The print newspaper industry world over is in transition (Hiromi et al., 2006) and a lot many are struggling to survive as the revenues dip and the costs rise. Even the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world, the Post-och Inrikes Tidningar (published in Sweden since 1645) became online only recently. In spite of the strong competition from the broadcast media, newspapers have remained an important media vehicle to both consumers and advertisers (Belch and Belch, 2005).

Newspaper advertising has been rated the most believable form of advertising (Belch and Belch, 2005). According to Moriarty (1987), advertising visuals perform two main functions-literal and symbolic; while literal visuals provide factual information on products or services, symbolic visuals perform an indirect role to connect the images of products or services with the meanings that are appropriately assigned to them. …

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