DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Conclusions of the webinar DIRECT TALKS From Home 6: “What will the media look like in Serbia after COVID-19”
There is a huge blank space in the media that brands need to take advantage of and get closer to their consumers. Campaigns are coming back, the market stabilization is expected in May, and it is up to the media and agencies to provide brands with the right measure of content in which advertisers will want to market their message. These are the conclusions of the sixth DIRECT TALKS From Home webinar.
Predrag Roganović, COO, Adria Media Group
Jelena Tušup, Executive Editor, Nova.rs
Robert Čoban, President, Color Press Group
Jasmina Koprivica, General Manager, Internet group
Sreten Radović, Publishing Director, Ringier Axel Springer
Steps forward at the coronavirus time
The youngest webinar participant, the portal Nova.rs, which began its work two weeks before the declaration of a state of emergency, can boast that it has passed the exam in crisis. According to Jelena Tušup, all 80 employees, journalists and editors are quickly technologically trained to work from home. “The new normal condition is the only normal condition that we know of. We got the hang of it rather quickly with no fails, despite some dramatic events such as the arrest of our journalist in the midst of a state of emergency,” Jelena said. She states that, before the crisis, Nova.rs had created a different concept with which they wanted to give value to readers. “With this concept we come out not only to be competitive but also to be an additional source of information in addition to all other websites. In addition to long reads and widely read author texts, we have over 10 columnists from all industries, including Mira Furlan, as well as the section Culture with interviews, comments and criticisms that we are trying to develop, aware that this is not a viral content in Serbia,” Jelena said.
The editorial staff of Telegraf.rs recognized the severity of the situation with the coronavirus and, according to Jasmina Koprivica, reacted proactively by publishing a special about coronavirus on the front page as early as the first days, at the same time equipping all the texts with the multigraphs that readers love. “The site has grown by a whopping 60%. Of course, the interest on coronavirus is slowly declining, but the economic aspect of the changes is more read, news on the Business section about how people will return to work, how assistance will be distributed to individuals and businesses, but also news about travel and vacations, and that is now the next thing to think about,” Jasmina said, adding that we are slowly returning to normal topics. “Certainly, the new normality will be that in the coming months, and maybe for years, we will talk about COVID-19 and its consequences as an integral part of our lives,” Jasmina said.
The Color Press Group, as a veteran of the media business, has been trained to deal with such crisis situations. “We worked during the 1990s as well as during hyperinflation, and in 1999 when the bombing began in just a few weeks we started to issue crosswords because we realized that people would want to solve them. When COVID-19 happened, we saw where it was headed and what we needed to do,” Robert Čoban said. According to him, a part of the employees who work on magazines work from home, and the employees who work on the organization of events are trained in the call center for assistance to the elderly in Novi Sad, which Color Press has started, and which was joined by 140 more volunteers. Weeks have thinned out the dynamics of the release, with the monthly editions of Beauty&Health and Diplomacy&Commerce appearing in their online editions for the first time. “We moved the events online, and at the conference we had a guest congressman from Ohio who we never would have had if we had had a normal conference. We take full advantage of the technology, combining Zoom and livestream on Youtube with all the supporting moments to give the user a better experience,” Robert said.
Although the coronavirus has done a lot of bad things to the market, it has shown that Ringier Axel Springer Serbia is also mobile and that as a market we are ready to mobilize. According to Sreten Radović, many business decisions were made before the times of coronavirus, there were those that would not have happened without coronavirus, and some were accelerated by coronavirus. “We have launched an electronic subscription to Blic and Blic Žena print editions, as one of the business decisions that are part of the broader strategy our media group is pursuing. We have also launched Blic Premium, and this is a great project, according to initial reports, where diaspora subscribers get access to premium content on Blic.rs and all our editions in PDF format. Like everyone else, we had a lot to change because of the coronavirus. 96% of employees were referred to work from home, different communication was initiated towards the market, employees, and remarkable awareness campaigns were launched for readers through the blic.rs and Žena.rs portals, Sreten said. He added that readers through the series of articles Business Against Coronavirus, and then the new series Life Against Coronavirus, were enabled to consult with experts and read visions about the post coronavirus society of renowned authors.
Adria Media Group is launching new businesses at the most difficult time, and according to Predrag Roganović, the plans were only slightly delayed by the coronavirus. “We are talking about Kurir cable TV, the third extension of Kurir, which was scheduled to start airing in March. I deliberately emphasize “cable” because without that sign, in our country you always have high expectations from television, from which we certainly do not run away, because we have hired experts who produce content. Within a month of the crisis, we employed 150 people globally and managed to organize a job modelled on an Asian media model, but in the meantime, we switched everything to work from home. In parallel with the television, we are launching the Classifieds, which we are launching on May 7th, and I must say that the number of advertisements is already six-digit,” Peđa Roganović noted. He added that they were most concerned about the print edition of the Kurir, but that the situation showed that people wanted to read that media format still, but that there was a problem with proceeds from advertisers. “The employees trusted our decisions and with a common understanding we were able to push through all the plans,” he said.
A message to brands
“Although 2020 has been going really well in terms of advertising, we have seen with this crisis that funding sources can dry up easily. We live on commercial campaigns, we pay salaries out from that – advertisers and the media must be in solidarity and keep that connection as firm as possible,” Jasmina Korpivica from Telegraf.rs said. According to her, a major blow to digital was the cancellation of sports events and disruptions in the tourism industry. “We have adapted and started offering different packages with different benefits, not just those free of charge, but more to explain to advertisers to continue advertising, because audience engagement is huge and will never be this way. The direct visit remained, and these are the qualities for advertisers. The message is: the audience trusts the media, comes to the media, you too should be there. It is easiest to cut budgets and say it’s the crisis, they just need to be reduced, optimized, because the audience is there, on digital channels. I as well as my whole team expect that May will be better, and we are already seeing that in a large volume of campaigns they are returning so I believe that the market will recover and return to normal,” Jasmina estimated.
According to Robert Čoban, Color Press, as media sponsor of the Olympic Committee, cancelled the “Countdown to Tokyo” series of events, but on the other hand launched the Quarantine Recipes campaign. “We realized that they would have a good response as a lot of people spend time in quarantine and we were right, a lot of participants and sponsors showed up, clients responded well because they realized it was the right measure of content related to something that was topical that is positive. In one sentence, it is up to us, the media, to mislead our clients and offer them content that will be tailored to the situation and, on the other hand, optimistic and talking about the positive moments,” Robert Čoban said.
“As much as this situation is restrictive is restrictive for both the media and advertisers, it still gives us the opportunity to experiment, and I would like the media to experiment more with sponsored content,” Jelena Tušup of Nova.rs said. According to her, advertisers like to promote the product through content, but this was a nice opportunity for brands, while supporting content that is useful to readers and viewers, and related to the moment, to be present more on screens and in homes, much more elegant and with a clearer presence.” Advertisers are very fond of social networks and the growing influencer marketing, but in this crisis, the media has proven to be a source of reliable and proven information and the growth of all media, especially digital in March and April, and that has proven to be right. This is a clear message to advertisers where their message will look good and in spite of what the message should stand,” Jelena Tušup said.
According to Predrag Roganović of Adria Media Group, our advertisers have not used the moment and are quite late, except for some, such as online bookmakers who have made great use of it. “There is a fight for attention in marketing, and there is only one topic in the media right now. People were looking for a way or how to adapt to the business or how to have fun and you had a huge blank space for attention, for new information, to strengthen the brand. According to research by the international publishing organization INMA, in America, 28% of the reading public did not want to read news about the coronavirus, one-third read only that type of news, and one-third combined. Our analytics say that there is an overwhelming desire to get people back to normal, and there is little and new information. In the coming weeks, there will be an empty space for attention and information, not to mention for advertising and brands that understand it will have the advantage, ”Predrag Roganović said.
“There was a step ahead, but not by the complete market. Some companies have positioned themselves and used the empty space to be much more visible than they would have been at other times. One of them is a young dairy, Dr Milk, which is more than notable with its megalomaniacal campaign,” Sreten Radović of Ringier Axel Springer said, noting that these are not frequent cases, but are worth mentioning. “On the other hand, the moment of creativity of media and agencies is extremely important, or in other words, how much we will offer to our clients something that is interesting, in line with current events and that it has a better sound. In cooperation with the company IDEA we also made a Quarantine Lunch, which had a great user experience with innovative easy-to-cook recipes, and in general, the popularization of cooking occurred, as evidenced by the increased production and interest of customers and the Noizz food audience. Therefore, after May 1st, our task will be to animate the market and get our customers back in their flow, because life will start to return as well – I hope we will have better stories in May,” Sreten concluded.
Back to the future
“The Adria Media Group aims to never go back to the old way of functioning, because most of the processes have proven to be far faster and efficient and if there is something good that happened to us in the coronavirus times, it is the digitization of everything,” Predrag Roganović concluded, stating that the company will be back to work in the same way it started working in changed circumstances. “We see this as an opportunity to be more efficient and at the same time to make a balance between work and life, which before the coronavirus times existed in theory for many,” Roganović said.
Telegraf.rs also believes that nothing should be fully restored to the situation as before. “We continue with projects, we turn to some younger audience who are interested in gaming and e-sports and are very serious about content on this topic, planning video production and organizing video tournaments. We will be working on improving the video through new formats and adapting the mobile apps whose download has jumped,” Jasmina Koprivica said.
“We will continue to practice many things, such as online meetings, and in terms of business, we will turn to what we have been doing for the last couple of years with Hello Travel, promoting tourist destinations in Serbia, since this year 90% of people will spend their summer vacation in Serbia and these are the spaces to be conquered,” Robert Čoban said. According to him, it is clear that print media will no longer be able to exist the way they used to, exclusive content magazines are safe, while everywhere else, niches must be sought and an additional experience must be offered to the reader. “Our gaming magazine that has posters will never be able to be replaced by online magazines, as well as the Uradi sam. culinary magazines,” Robert said.
“We realized that we were working in homes that are extremely flexible and capable and not only that they can survive under something that seemed unimaginable to everyone, but also are ready to embark on a new cycle of development,” Sreten Radović of Ringier Axel Springer said, stating that the company will organize the employees’ return to work in stages, and that the sense of return to the newsroom and work space is important to them. “We can definitely do business without traveling, and it is up to us to make the best of it, to use some of the lessons we have learned under pressure and to apply them in the time to come,” Sreten Radović said.
According to Jelena Tušup of Nova.rs, this portal is still in the phase of investment thanks to its parent company United Group, so it is not obliged to make a profit even though advertisers appear in order to place advertisement messages. “We aim to grow as much as possible and focus all our attention on content and forgotten values in digital, such as precision, reliability, proven and content that is not enriched in color. We will expand our network of associates and soon have a video streaming platform on which the existing synergy with Nova TV whose shows and series we are streaming will be even more visible. Everything can change in the future when it comes to the media, first of all, by the media consumption platform, but what remains is editorial staff and content that people trust,” Jelena concluded.
Check out the webinar here: