The blockbuster Harry Potter movies depict newspapers with moving photos. While it may be some years before paper-thin, flexible electronic screens make such newspapers a reality, something similar is already happening at The Straits Times in Singapore.

When the electronic PDF version of the newspaper is viewed on a smartphone or tablet, the advertisements move. And when a reader touches one of these responsive ads on the screen, it produces several call-to-action buttons, allowing the reader to immediately call, message, e-mail, or go to the advertiser’s Web site.

Readers also can share the advertisements easily via e-mails, phone messages, or through their social media account, and can search for similar advertisements that appear in the same newspaper.

This is just the first phase of The Straits Times interactive newspaper. Currently available for print display and classified ads, this feature will also soon be used for news stories, so the whole newspaper will look alive on smart devices.

Our enterprising team at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which publishes The Straits Times, has even secured a patent for the interactive newspaper, making it a breakthrough technology for the 171-year-old publication.

The new interactive digital newspaper of The Strait Times engages readers while improving advertisement reach and social media sharing.
The new interactive digital newspaper of The Strait Times engages readers while improving advertisement reach and social media sharing.

“We are pleased to introduce these new features to our advertisers and readers,” says Elsie Chua, executive vice president and head of the marketing division at SPH. “With these new functions, advertisers can reach out to a wider target group more effectively. For the readers, the user-friendly functions provide an efficient platform for them to get connected to the vendors or suppliers. We will be rolling out more features in the coming months, and look forward to further enhancing the user experience.”

The technology used enables animation to be incorporated into the newspaper without a need for many creative designers, which is important since newspapers are published daily.

The digital newspaper looks just like the print version, allowing online readers to do a quick one-glance page overview, as well as offering a pleasant reading and browsing experience.

This interactive technology allows readers to make “newspaper clippings” as they might do with the print product, but in a more convenient way because they can immediately search and share advertisements and contact advertisers.

Advertisers benefit from this new technology because their ads reach a wider audience online, since readers can share them digitally. With a wider reach for these print ads, SPH retains its advertising clients while growing its print advertising sales.