Here’s the complete Q&A.....
MediAvataar: What do you consider has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Anurag: I have realised that I know very little, I need to know much more and I say this with all seriousness. I believe in the UB 40 song called ‘Higher Ground’. Every hour, every day I am learning more. The more I learn, the less I know, the less I know the more I look around digging deep from the higher ground. After being a part of the media industry for the last sixteen years, I have realised to not only learn more and more but apply more.
My second biggest learning is-communities work! I am not into the business of magazines, websites, events or books. But I am into the business of building communities through knowledge platforms. As we go forward people will be increasingly interested in special interest content and dive deep in niche domain. So, I realised that previous century was the knowledge century. The next big success will come from knowledge of emotional well being. And these will create the unicorns from India that will in turn change the Indian media industry.
Building exchange4media from scratch has been a learning experience. Today exchange4media, Pitch, Impact and their various editorial platforms are the numero uno in their respective domains.
My other achievement is that I acquired Businessworld which needed a transformation. So while I have still not achieved what I fully wanted to, what I set out to do. We are currently hitting 10 million page views in Businessworld and our target is 50 million by the year end.
Adding more, I would say having two kids and being married to the same woman ever since-is also an achievement for meJ.
On a serious note, my first book will be out very soon, it’s a curated book on World Greatest Philosophers. My second book is about MDI’s entrepreneurs named ‘Square pegs in round holes ‘and my third book is also in process named Eight Days in a week, it’s about my entrepreneurial journey- it is not about sex it’s about having fun eight days a week and creating something out of it J.
MediAvataar: How would you describe the Indian digital landscape?
Anurag: There is only one word for it, it’s exploding. I think print still being read in India, five years from now, every content that everyone consumes, most of it will be consumed on digital devices. The smart devices and hi-speed internet will make sure everything is interconnected.
You may read your emails in your living room on your TV which you may not call a TV but a smart screen. You can see digital in every space be it media, politics, entertainment or anything.
From the spends point of view, my hunch is that in the next five years over 20 per cent of overall spends will be in digital which means today we are fifty thousand crores market and in five years we will become a 15 billion dollar market and out of that 20 % spends will be on digital. Digital is big and it will only get bigger.
MediAvataar: How have the roles of media, marketing, and communications changed or evolved in India? How has this change affected you work?
Anurag: I think media has a very important role to play in three ways.
- a) News, the role of news media is to engage with a citizen to be able to take citizen’s views to the leaders of the country and vice-a-versa.
- b) From a marketing stand point- to deliver audiences. At the end of the day you need content to create community.
- c) There is a social role where in media has to be able to bring up new leaders and new ideas
MediAvataar: What made you interested in the Businessworld magazine?
Anurag: I built exchange4media with God’s help and Industry’s support and I wanted to go to the next level. Businessworld is a brand that I have been reading for more than 25 years .It is a great brand, it has great editorial colleagues and I believe I wanted to go to the next level of building a bigger business. Having said that, I did not buy the magazine I bought the content in it.
MediAvataar: Did you acquire it with a view to leveraging the brand and content digitally?
Anurag: Absolutely, so in India digital spends are still low and again in Businessworld we have a sharp positioning as a brand. There is a certain expectation that a reader has from Businessworld and we have to do justice to that. It’s not only a magazine; it’s a platform for business, community and entrepreneurship.
MediAvataar: What is your vision for the magazine?
Anurag: The magazine is growing; people are still reading magazines in India. They have a certain role to play. I believe magazine is about the laid back generation. It is something you read when you are in a salon, your carry it in your bed room where you don’t want any digital gadgets. A magazine is a companion, but that’s one part of what we are doing with Businessworld, we are building a digital platform that is hitting ten million page views right now.
Tomorrow we may launch Businessworld television. We are in the business of building a brand and business of creating content. Going forward Businessworld will become a 360 degree platform.
MediAvataar: Where do you see the future of creative marketing, and communications in India heading?
Anurag: The role of a CMO is increasingly becoming complex. The CMO now has to entertain the role of a CTO and CIO because data is everything. We are moving from hunch driven marketing to data led marketing. Hence the marketer has to combine the role of CIO and CTO. Company like Bajaj, Unilever and Godrej also want to know how consumers are interacting with their brands and they want to track their consumer behaviour.
Also the role of a journalist, content creator is changing. I meet lot of CMOs who want to be CEOs but, I don’t meet too many CEOs who want to be CMOs. The role of branding and marketing is too important to be left to a CMO. We are living in a 24x7 digital world and we have to be very active.
The old saying is a family who prays together stays together, the new saying is the family who what’s app together stays together.
MediAvataar: Is digital medium more about the numbers and little less about creativity?
Anurag: The digital medium is growing as the size of the audience has become bigger. The beautiful thing is that, it is happening with digital more and more. Marketers are using digital as a brand building tool, which was traditionally the role of television and newspaper. The best thing is that brand owners have realised that digital can be used to build brands and it’s not only about numbers.
MediAvataar: What advice would you give to the budding media professionals today?
Anurag: I am not big fan of Navjot Singh Sidhu, but I’ll quote him by saying, “Mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open.” So media and communication professionals should have an open mind.
MediAvataar: Three global trends in the Digital Media, you feel every marketer should try & adopt?
Anurag: One is-what is happening in the social and shopping sphere. All the brands are becoming very e-commerce led. Not only brands which are traditional but every business is creating an e-commerce interface. Social commerce will become very big. The second thing is SMAC, Social Mobile Analytics and cloud. I think every CMO would benchmark their media and marketing campaign results on this. The last point I would like to make is that traditional and new media will co-exist.