4 October 2023

Digital Technology Guru

Digital Technology Guru Reviews

The Challenges Faced Indian Digital News Publishers in Monetizing Advertising

2 min read
The Challenges Faced  Indian Digital News Publishers in Monetizing Advertising

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, news publishers in India are facing challenges in the monetization of their digital platforms. While digital offers extended reach and the ability to engage with viewers, advertisers are not finding it worth investing in digital news publisher platforms.

According to a study Reuters Institute, 72% of news readers in India access news through smartphones, making it a strongly mobile-focused market. Despite this, ad revenues for digital news publishers have been declining. NDTV saw a 35% decrease in revenue in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023-24, while Network18 experienced flat revenue due to a weak advertising environment.

Jagran Prakashan Media also reported a decrease in digital revenue, attributing it to unfavorable market conditions and the inability to monetize the consumer base effectively. The Indian Express saw a slowdown in ad revenue but performed well in terms of subscribers and events business.

The challenges faced digital news publishers are influenced sector-wise advertisers. The IT sector, which heavily invests in digital, has been impacted the economic slowdown. The auto sector, due to supply chain issues, has a full order book and does not require additional advertising. Edtech and the startup sector have also experienced cost cuts. Gaming, while still a significant sector, has faced restrictions on advertising due to regulatory issues.

Advertisers and agencies have become more aware and methodical with digital ad spending and campaign management, looking for better return on ad spend (ROAS) and campaign efficiency. Publishers who have not prepared themselves for these changes may find it challenging to monetize their platforms through advertising.

As a result, publishers are focusing on generating quality content and increasing their subscriber base through paywalls. The New York Times, among others, has seen success with this approach, with about ten million subscribers.

The revenue split for digital publishers is between direct and programmatic advertising. Publishers heavily dependent on programmatic advertising have faced declining revenues due to changes in Google and Facebook’s policies. The Hindu, for example, currently has a 70:30 split between direct and programmatic advertising.

However, there are challenges associated with relying on subscribers rather than advertisers. Indian publishers face lower retention rates compared to international publishers, as Indians are accustomed to free content. Additionally, the newspaper industry has not significantly increased subscription fees, and Indian digital news publishers have historically not asked readers to pay for content.

In order to overcome these challenges, publishers need to focus on retention and building relationships with their audience. Communicating the value of quality content and differentiating between free and paid content is essential for sustainable revenue growth.


– Reuters Institute study

– Financial results and statements from NDTV, Network18, Jagran Prakashan Media, and The Indian Express

– Statements Sanjay Trehan, Tapan Sharma, and Pradeep Gairola