Joseph Lee, managing director of new media at Singapore Press Holdings Magazines, shares his views about e-commerce, consumer retail, and digital transaction businesses. The digital media guru in the company, Lee is responsible for spearheading SPH Magazines’ overall digital growth. His portfolio includes the expansion of SPH Magazines’ existing online properties, including the award-winning Hardwarezone.com and HerWorldPLUS, and launching of new ones.
INMA: Digital transaction businesses are all the rage with news media companies — deal sites, local shopping sites, and online catalogues to name a few examples. As digital re-organisation hits each area of business, there are media companies who are ready to pounce. What is your view on this?
Lee: This to me is a natural course of evolution for the advertising community. However, how we engage the audience and via which platform may differ from industry to industry and from product to product.
One thing is for sure: Magazine publishers do have an advantage when it comes to moving readers from the stage of awareness to that of consumption. The trust that magazine publishers have established with their readers, fostering a community atmosphere, will place them in an advantageous position to move them along the purchasing cycle.
INMA: Many publishers have long sold branded consumer products through the pages of their printed products. Now that’s happening online instead, and at a fraction of the cost, as third-party products are re-branded and endorsed by trusted media mastheads.
Lee: Once again, it is so important that magazine publishers only position products that resonate with their readers rather than attempting to pander to whatever they feel can generate short-term revenue for them. Brand equity and trust takes years to build and cultivate, and it would be foolhardy to compromise that integrity for short-term gains.
With the advent of technology, magazine publishers like SPH Magazines are able to now extend the reader experience from not only sharing with them products and services that are deemed relevant, but continuing the process into instant gratification, that is, the ability to not only be informed but to consume.
INMA: Consumers are changing the way they buy things and news media companies need to be there. McKinsey & Company believes that online media content is only about three or four clicks away from the moment of an online purchase on a retailing site. How can publishers cash in on that proximity and be rewarded for converting a reader into a happy purchaser?
Lee: Simply by curating products and services that readers need and want, and providing them with the necessary connectivity to be able to acquire such products and services. In essence, heighten the convenience factor for the readers, as well as the overall user experience.
INMA: There’s a growing list of examples that shows how publishers are increasingly embracing their role as e-commerce facilitator — by creating editorial environments on specialist topics that facilitate consumer readiness for purchasing, whether traditional editorial pieces or through native advertising for groups of retailers; by creating bespoke digital vehicles for a consumer goods client; and by building partnerships with payment tools such as PayPal, which is using the power of its retailer networks to dominate the credit card companies in e-commerce.
Lee: Totally agree with the observation. Which is why if you access our digital titles, you will noticed that we had placed call to action at appropriate locations to enhance the interactions between content and consumption. Our digital editions currently carry both native ads and as well as curated featured pages. With the appropriate use of technology, the relationship between publishers and readers is greatly enhanced.
For more thought pieces on the latest developments in the publishing scene, visit http://www.sphmagazines.com.sg/industry-talk.