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The Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) has announced the launch of a mega content marketing studio, to offer marketers innovative content marketing solutions that can reach over 150 million Indians. Dastaan Hub is a unique initiative by publishers which draws in the collective strength of over 125 magazine titles, their websites and digital media assets.

It seeks to expand content marketing opportunities for brand marketers, and offer them engaging and innovative solutions, across multiple languages, demographics, interest groups, and formats. It’s been put together by AIM member publishers, who recognised the need at marketers’ end to move towards developing engaging content solutions for making compelling brand stories.

AIM president B Srinivasan (Ananda Vikatan), said, “Magazines by their very essence are a deeply immersive medium, and are trusted for the depth in their editorial content. Moreover, magazines cater to highly engaged communities, and each magazine publishing team has deep insights into their readers’ emotional psyches and consumer interests. This is where they have inherent strength for partnering with brands for creating compelling brand stories.”

“Most marketers tend to miss out on the immense reach of magazines in the country. As per IRS 2019, the total readership of magazines was close to 9 crores, which was an increase of about a crore over 2017 IRS. So magazines offer a perfect blend of reach and deep engagement, and therefore relevance of branded content,” he added.

Some of the participating publishers in Dastaan Hub are India Today, Ananda Vikatan, Delhi Press, Outlook, Malayala Manorama magazines, Network 18 magazines, ABP magazines, Business World, and Diamond Publications. The collective print reach of these publications is over 50 million, a digital reach of over 100 million, and spreads across 10 languages.

The studio will be led by industry veteran Shripad Kulkarni, who along with a team of experienced professionals will offer full content marketing solution in appropriate multiple formats like video, shorts, podcast, articles, panel discussion, fblive, contests, and social media posts.

Kulkarni said, “Dastaan Hub team will be following a 3-step process. A classical first, studying the category and brand challenges. Second, the creative and strategy team will customise native communication led ideas, based on client brief. And then add an O2O, online to offline media delivery plan. All this will be co-created to capture the essence of the dialogue the brands want to have with their customers.”

Yogesh Dashrath, Country Manager, Storytel India, said, “Stories are a powerful means to influence and inspire. So, I am sure that the Dastaan Hub’s plan to recreate brand stories in the regional language and cultural context will greatly help brands to connect with their customer.”

Pawan Sarda, Group CMO, Future Group, added, “Each region, each state of India is unique. So, there are so many cultural and contextual nuances one needs to keep in mind. The Dastaan Hub initiative, is a good single window opportunity to connect with customers across the length and breadth of India.”

Speaking on the multiple collaborations between AIM members done during the pandemic phase, AIM General Secretary, Anant Nath (Delhi Press), said, “It is no secret that there has been erosion of interest in magazines by marketers, and that we have been facing some serious problems in maintaining our distribution. Therefore, as a first step, we collaborated to tackle this fundamental problem. A joint distribution agency network has been put together by AIM, so that publishers can take advantage of collective bargaining and increase their footprint across geographies. Secondly, massive efforts have been put to improve the subscription eco-system, which includes working with Indian Post to improve delivery, as well as joint subscription marketing efforts. As a result, the subscription numbers across publishers have increased during pandemic, to compensate for loss in newsstand”.

Manoj Sharma of India Today added, “Dastaan Hub is a logical extension of our distribution efforts as we are confident that we can deliver highly engaged audiences to our advertisers. At the same time, we will be careful to ensure that this branded content will follow global ethical guidelines of content marketing, as reader trust is of utmost importance to us.”

“We are confident that with our collaborative working across distribution, subscription marketing, and now Dastaan Hub, our magazines will strengthen their deeply engaging relationship with readers as well as brand partners,” Indranil Roy of Outlook said.