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Mimrah Mahmood on Singapore’s Changing Media Landscape

Jessica Chan

Oct 3, 2017

In the last few months, a number of Asia news publications have announced that they will cease their Asia print editions, in the face of diminishing advertising revenues and readers preferring to get their news online.

With major announcements of publications stopping their Singapore and Hong Kong print editions, Mediacorp’s Today Online discontinuing their print title, and market rumours that Singapore’s main newspaper company, Singapore Press Holdings will also embark on a company reorganisation (and potential job cuts) in the face of the shift to digital, we speak to Meltwater’s Regional Director for Media Solutions, Mimrah Mahmood about Singapore’s changing media landscape.

1) Looking back, have you seen any missed opportunities that Mediacorp and SPH failed to take to transform digitally?

Both SPH and Mediacorp were quick to recognise changing media consumption habits and provide a digital offering. Where I see gaps is in the integration of the print and digital teams, primarily because they didn’t have complementary targets such as driving print advertising revenue or traffic to the news sites.

Unified KPIs are key to enabling teams to operate as a single unit that is more efficient in monetising advertising across traditional and digital platforms. This also enables staff to be more nimble and pivot towards advertisers and consumers needs.

2) What have traditional media companies in Asia Pacific or around the world done to cope with digital transformation? What can Mediacorp and SPH learn from them?

There are two distinct approaches that media publishers take: freemium and pay-wall. Both have its advantages and we are yet to see which one is more profitable in the long run.

While markets like Australia and Japan prefer the pay-wall model, they are struggling to compete with new channels and competitors. The freemium model has one distinct advantage – the ability to leverage every avenue to get more eyeballs on the content. This has allowed them to better integrate with the new sheriffs of media (platforms such as Google, Facebook, Baidu, Tencent, etc). Mediacorp and SPH would have benefitted from negotiating with these new media owners to get better rates earlier on, as well as longer term commitments. Now, they are competing with, and are sometimes at the mercy of these new technology companies.

3) What are the ways Mediacorp and SPH can provide value to advertisers from here on out?

Keeping up with changing consumer habits is crucial if you want to fully monetise an advertising channel. For example, consumers today are showing a preference for mobile news and bite-sized or rich digital media, and publishers that don’t keep up will lose out. For both SPH and Mediacorp, it’s important to focus on the younger generation because that’s where the changing habits are most evident.

With new competitors like Singtel entering the space (their CEO recently positioned them as a multi-media company rather than a telco), I see the balance of power changing dramatically in the ecosystem.

4) Mediacorp and SPH recently set up a joint programmatic trading desk. What are some other ways they can monetise digitally?

With 5G internet speeds on the horizon, it’s all about owning consumer traffic. The speeds we’re talking about will revolutionise the way we consume media content and the experiences that are possible over the internet. 5G will allow IoT to be fully integrated with the consumer behaviour. SPH and Mediacorp need to invest heavily in this area to determine their positioning and footprint in this new ecosystem.


Extracts from this blog post were published in The Drum