ZIMBABWE Newspapers 1980 Limited (Zimpapers), the country’s largest integrated media company, is exploring strategies to fully monetise content on its digital platforms.
This was said by the group chief executive officer Mr Pikirayi Deketeke in an interview with Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN), a unit of Zimpapers, presenter Andy Hodges last week, underscoring the need for innovation and understanding media audience dynamics to sustain the business.
“These are things that we are exploring; (we are saying) what else can we do on those platforms, so that it is paid for,” said Mr Deketeke.
“What would readers pay for as opposed to general news? We are worried about that and we are doing something about it.”
Over the past few years, Zimpapers has invested in various digital platforms in line with global trends that have seen an accelerated move to digital and mobile media.
The group’s Appl is among the best performing in the news category.
Mr Deketeke said with the economy now largely informal, Zimpapers was looking to tap into the potentially lucrative market by understanding the content preferences of the consumers.
“As I said earlier, Zimbabwe’s economy is highly informalised, but you find housing developments, communities that are growing…who is employing these people?
“They are spending money on building houses, buying cars…are their reading traditions the same?
“How do we ensure we reach those audiences to make sure they read our products, they pay for what they read and we produce the kind of content they are prepared to pay for? I think it’s a puzzle we have to find.
“We are going to be sending out people to do research, talk to those communities that are emerging throughout the country where you see these new developments taking place; who are they, where does their money come from, what are they watching on television, are we relevant to them. I think it also applies to…the taxes that are not being paid but money being spent in the economy.
“So we are all in that same boat,” Mr Deketeke said the traditional ways of doing business had changed and business leaders ought to be more innovative to survive.
“The traditional ways of doing business that we knew and understood 20-30 years ago, that model has totally changed and a new financial model is in place,” he said.
Mr Deketeke said the company would continue selling most of its products primarily to the mass market by ensuring that they remain within the reach of many.
“What becomes important for us is the mass market; we want to make sure that as many people as possible are reading our content in the newspapers, which advertisers follow,” said Mr Deketeke.
“So, for us is to maintain the balance; do we maintain our readers…so that advertisers also can find value…or do you simply hike up prices and lose readers?”
He said while the group saw growth in US dollar revenue, it was still insufficient to cater for its raw material imports as well as to partly pay salaries in hard currency.