Singapore Press Holdings delivers value, ad revenue via captive print audiences

By Fred Lai

Singapore Press Holdings



As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause advertising revenues to dry up, the media industry is facing unprecedented challenges to remain viable. With news of furloughs and layoffs happening throughout the industry, we need to focus on how we can accentuate our value to both our audiences and advertisers and remain relevant.

Thankfully, there are pockets of light amidst the gloom. While the pandemic has decimated advertising revenue, the “corona bump” has brought a surge in readership and subscriptions. In Singapore, which has similarly seen an upsurge in digital media consumption, we were also pleasantly surprised to see an uptick in print newspaper engagement as well.

Singapore went into a “circuit breaker” mode on April 7 when schools and workplaces were shut down and it became mandatory for people to stay home. With more people now at home, we wanted to find out how staying at home changed our readers’ media consumption behaviours. We commissioned two online studies over a seven-day period, covering 1,419 print readers across seven of Singapore Press Holdings’ newspaper titles. The focus was on understanding the changes to consumption habits of printed newspapers.

Here’s what we found:

  • 65% of subscribers are reading printed newspapers more frequently compared to three months ago.
  • At least 60% are reading the top three sections of each newspaper more now as compared to three months ago.
  • 85% are reading in more detail now, including advertisements.
  • 40% are spending 30 minutes to more than an hour perusing the printed newspaper.

How can we help advertisers leverage the fact readers spending more time on print media, consuming both content and advertisements?

Earlier in April, I shared our efforts in activating the print audience using a scanning technology and QR codes. We have done many more runs of the “Marketplace” initiative, where we pair small display tile ads with QR codes and the response has been very encouraging.

With our audiences spending more time reading the newspapers, we hoped to provide them with a shorter time to gratification by introducing ads that are shoppable.

We created a shared marketplace and enabled our SME clients to buy ad exposure in the flagship newspapers at lower entry costs and drive direct response with minimal tech setup on their end. This helped their businesses acquire more customers. Merchants are able to buy individual tiles where each tile has an QR code (generated by us) that can be linked to the merchant’s site, WhatsApp (where people call or text their orders), or any URL.

We also partnered with department stores to offer this as a solution to the stores’ merchants as well.

Even F&B owners are able to come on board to promote their food delivery services to customers.

Over a period of four weekends that the Marketplace ads ran, we garnered more than 40,000 scans on the ads, with 20% retention of advertisers who became our repeat customers. Feedback from our advertisers was also very positive, with many reporting spikes in transactions after the ads ran.

Through this initiative, smaller advertisers now have an opportunity to tap into our network of print audiences.

It also helps SPH provide support to the local SME community as they ride the COVID-19 pandemic and nurture a long-term relationship with these businesses, providing them a wider suite of solutions as they grow.

Banner image courtesy of Yulia Rozanova from Pexels.

About Fred Lai

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