Times Internet Ltd (TIL), the digital arm of India’s leading media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Company Limited, has reported a decline in online advertising revenue as its losses widened to Rs 490 Cr from Rs 341 Cr a year before.
The company’s online advertising revenue, which includes classifieds, and web maintenance, contributed Rs 762 Cr to the overall revenue in 2023, about 4.5 percent less compared to Rs 798 Cr in the previous year.
However, print ads under TIL, comprising publications like Times City, Times Card, Speaking Tree, and A2B, saw a significant increase, reaching Rs 285 Cr compared to Rs 213 Cr in the previous fiscal year, states the company's regulatory filing obtained by Tofler.
This surge in print advertising revenue suggests continued relevance and appeal for traditional media channels.
TIL reported a growth in overall revenue from operations, reaching Rs 1,313 Cr, compared to the previous year's figure of Rs 1,200 Cr. However, increased operational expenses amounted to Rs 1,637 Cr, up from Rs 1,375 Cr a year ago, reflecting the challenges on the profitability front.
A significant portion of the expenses was attributed to salaries and wages, Rs 754 Cr in FY23 as against Rs 624 Cr previous year, indicating continued investment in human resources.
Meanwhile, the company allocated Rs 125 Cr to advertising and promotion, to maintain a strong market presence and brand visibility even as its spends on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives remained zero.
TIL provides online and offline services including selling of print advertorials/advertisements. It manages Timesofindia, Economictimes.com, Navbharattimes.com and News properties across 7 other languages. It also operates MX Player, Gaana, Cricbuzz, Times Prime and ET Money among others.
A tough macro environment
When asked about the factors leading to the decline in ad revenue and the measures that are being taken to improve on that front, the TIL declined to comment.
"Ad industry’s muted growth affected TIL also," according to the BoD. "This fiscal year the Digital ad industry saw a muted growth which impacted advertising revenues of digital publishers across the board, including us. Despite a tough Macro environment, our news business saw a healthy revenue growth compared to our peers in the industry," the company officials noted in the report.
“We continue to focus on growing our revenue lines like subscription (Direct to consumers) and focussed community-based events apart from online advertisement. While the matured news business is profitable/near breakeven, we are also working on optimizing our cost structure aggressively to make the overall news business profitable,” the Board of Directors stated.
Divestment & cut in marketing budget for profitability
The BoD has also listed steps taken to enhance revenue growth and improve profitability in the financial statement. These include prudence in utilization of marketing budgets, further investment into TOI+, ETprime, ET Money, TimesPrime and building better monetization tools and divestment of Dineout and ILN properties (MensXP & Idiva) and Vidgyor Media Technologies.
They also informed about the partial sale of shares investment in Delhivery Limited and Super Highway Labs Pvt. Ltd. (Shuttl).
Fintech Platform on cards
The company plans to launch a fintech platform soon. Revealing their plans, the company officials noted, “By combining the strength of Timescard, Timesprime, ET Money and Timespoints, we see a very good opportunity to create a strong fintech platform for distribution/sale of financial products such as credit card/ consumer loans and various subscription products at large scale.”
“These new businesses are on an exponential growth path and would require investment for another 1-2 years for continued growth while remaining competitive against deep-pocketed corporates and well-funded startups.”
“The Board of Directors is optimistic about the future prospects of the Company, and hopeful of a better performance with increased revenues in the coming financial year, by transitioning an increasing number of users to subscription & transaction based products. This strategy aims to optimize monetization of our existing user base, complemented by growth in advertising revenues from matured businesses. As a result, we expect to see both revenue growth and improved profitability in the coming years.”