As a publisher, content is at the heart of what we at SPH Magazines do. While we have scaled our audiences by creating networks that cut across titles and come up with innovative distribution channels, at the end of the day, the content has to be captivating enough to maintain and grow the reader base. 

Readers’ and advertisers’ expectations have changed: A complete experience for the former and conversion for the latter are expected — preferably all on the same platform or device. This is especially in Singapore, where consumer confidence is subdued, and brand owners are under pressure and expect campaigns to boost sales.

As a result, expectations on media are not just at the start of the sales funnel (i.e., awareness and consideration) but all the way through to conversion. If that's not challenging enough, in today's fragmented media landscape, traditional media is probably at the nadir of consumers’ trust.

Can magazines deliver?

According to Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in traditional media as a source of news and information has been declining. Somewhere between 2014 and 2015, it has been bypassed by online search engines.

Statistically speaking, people trust online search engines more than traditional media.
Statistically speaking, people trust online search engines more than traditional media.

However, if we delve into magazine media specifically, we find that magazine readers have a special relationship with the media. They view magazines as a trusted source of information — a finding that is replicated across several research studies around the world.

In a survey of Femina (weekly magazine) readers in Indonesia, most of the motivations for reading the publication were centred around the magazine providing tips and information and helping readers to relax.

Similar results were recorded in a Belgium study that surveyed a large sample of French-speaking adults on their motivations for consuming various media. Both studies were reported in FIPP’s Proof of Performance Report 2014, which stands to make a case for magazine media.

In our own study (done in collaboration with GfK Singapore) across more than 3,500 readers of 10 key women’s lifestyle magazines in Singapore, we found that readers saw magazines as a valuable source of new information.

What is even more intriguing is that, not only do they trust editorial articles, but the trust also spills over to advertisements. This is a key unique attribute of magazine readers compared to audiences of other media.

If readers trust magazine articles, they are also inclined to trust advertising published in the magazine.
If readers trust magazine articles, they are also inclined to trust advertising published in the magazine.

Grounded by such a relationship of trust, magazines are hence well-placed vis-à-vis other media to complete the sales funnel and deliver conversions.

Completing the sales funnel

At SPH Magazines, we work our content hard and are committed to investing in technologies that help us do so. Our digital editions are built with various enhancements that keep readers engaged and enable brands to deliver their messages effectively, even allowing conversions to take place directly.

Digital-edition creatives include the following:

Galleries: These allow brands to add more images without being bound by the limits of page space. The more visuals there are, the greater the opportunity to impress and persuade readers to consider the brand.

Readers can tap on the gallery button to view more images and return to the article page with a single tap.
Readers can tap on the gallery button to view more images and return to the article page with a single tap.

Videos: The content format of choice today, video delivers the brand message in an arresting manner. It is especially effective in demonstrating product performance by helping readers to evaluate the product without having to make a trip to a physical store.

Videos can be set either to automatically play or play upon tapping.
Videos can be set either to automatically play or play upon tapping.

URL enhancements: These allow brands to bring readers to an existing Web site or a specially created micro-site or landing page, opening up a myriad of creative opportunities.

For example, brands can create a (branded) quiz that can help to boost brand awareness, whereas accessing the brand Web site through the ad makes it easier for readers to get more information. When they are done, readers can easily resume reading the magazine with a single tap.

Creative URL enhancements make for a better reader experience.
Creative URL enhancements make for a better reader experience.

Interstitials: Interstitials are developed using HTML 5, which allows the brand to achieve full interactivity of a Web page within a digital magazine. It can host videos, galleries, and other forms of interactive media within a single page.

Interstitials allow full interactivity of a Web page within a digital magazine.
Interstitials allow full interactivity of a Web page within a digital magazine.

As all SPH Magazines digital editions support HTML pages, the same interstitial can be placed across titles without going through multiple rounds of production. Moreover, it can be adapted and redeployed across mediums — over digital, over Web, and on print, fully facilitating a 360 reach for marketers.

These interactive features help to bring brands closer to consumers at various stages of the consumer journey. Beyond piquing their interest and prolonging engagement time with the advertisement, by offering more information, we facilitate readers’ purchase decisions — either in future or immediately.

E-commerce: universal check-out

To enable an immediate purchase, we developed an e-commerce store called SheShops that can be linked to our digital editions through a buy button. SheShops features multiple international merchants, creating a one-stop shop for customers to browse across merchants, place all items into a single shopping cart, and check-out through a single entry.

Buy buttons that bring readers to check-out page on SheShops with a single tap.
Buy buttons that bring readers to check-out page on SheShops with a single tap.

By incorporating buy buttons into our digital editions, we complete the shopping experience for readers, bringing them through from awareness to purchase.

Augmented Reality

This enriching and immersive reading experience is not limited to our digital editions. Through Augmented Reality technology we are able to come full circle, going back to our roots and making our print content “come alive.”

Using an AR app called ScanZine, readers simply have to scan the printed page and the digital element will launch on their device. The digital element can be bonus content not offered through print, such as videos, and can even link readers to the brand Web site or straight to the check-out page.

Augmented Reality allows readers to interact with magazine content.
Augmented Reality allows readers to interact with magazine content.

And there we have it: The SPH Magazines’ Transformation Journey blog series. At the start of this series we asked, “How do we, as a legacy publisher, compete with digital media companies that offer innovations that attract advertisers away from us?” For us, the solution lies in continuous innovation in the areas of audience, brand, and content to deliver on our promise of being “anytime, anywhere.”

By aggregating our audiences into networks, we are able to deliver quality reach at scale across titles and platforms to advertisers — with just a single order. This is further amplified through innovative distribution channels such as targeting prospective readers at various lifestyle, hospitality, and retail outlets.

At the same time, we ensure that content and brand messages are delivered effectively by incorporating technologies that nudge readers along the consumer journey, setting the stage for conversions.

Read our previous blog posts about leveraging audiences to increase digital advertising and the attempt to be anywhere at anytime for more information on our integrated campaigns, and talk to us to find out how we can help you create engaging advertisements and turn our readers into your consumers.