Digital publishing success requires distribution innovation

By Ivan Tan

SPH Magazines

Singapore, Singpore


A year ago, we shared SPH Magazines’ ABC formula for facing off digital disruption.

We leveraged the strong involvement and engagement of our premium magazine audience, which voluntarily associates with our brands and welcome advertising messages as much as content. We also pushed ahead with enhancing and extending readers’ experience through to conversion with innovations in rich media and “transactable” content, which we propagated across channels.

For our advertisers, we grouped our magazine brands, which had traditionally enjoyed strong brand equity on their own, offering them an unprecedented scale of reach to an audience that is of premium quality and targeted.

SPH Magazines partnered with Wi-Fi-enabled businesses to distribute its publications to a wider audience.
SPH Magazines partnered with Wi-Fi-enabled businesses to distribute its publications to a wider audience.

D is for distribution

Since then, we have also been able to gain new audiences, from local to regional to international, by discovering and harnessing new distribution channels across platforms and devices.

With the adoption of tablets and smartphones, readers have more options to consume media, tossing the traditional distribution model into disarray.

To keep up, many traditional publishers forayed into the digital space with Web sites, social media pages, and even their own mobile applications. Despite these efforts, there’s still much more publishers can do to boost their distribution strategy and gun for more eyeballs.

Collaborating with Wi-Fi-enabled venues

With data usage increasing exponentially due to changing media consumption patterns, consumers nowadays are always on the lookout for free Wi-Fi on the go.

Local retail and lifestyle establishments — which are also battling the effects of digital disruption transforming the way their customers search, research, and shop — have been constantly innovating to attract more footfall, enhance consumer experiences in-store and online, and build customer loyalty. For instance, free Wi-Fi is now almost ubiquitous in establishments offering lifestyle services.

Here lies an opportunity for publishers.

Partnership with Wi-Fi-enabled venues allows us to utilise their network to offer content to consumers, like a digital library of sorts. By offering content on top of free Wi-Fi, brands will be able to keep consumers engaged longer and, more importantly, keep consumers where they want them to be — physically within their establishments.

Such partnerships represent a convenient marriage of objectives between both parties: Publishers have their content served to an audience they might not typically reach, and their partners see their consumers lingering longer and increasing propensity to purchase.

Over at SPH Magazines, our Wi-Fi Library Solution has gained traction with a variety of local and overseas service providers such as salons, Wi-Fi network suppliers, hotel brands, and even fast food chains, allowing our brands to be served to a burgeoning international audience.

Locally, OCBC Bank, one of the biggest banks in Singapore, is one such brand that recently embarked on a partnership with SPH Magazines, tapping into our Wi-Fi Library of more than 100 titles.

“This is made possible by today’s digital capabilities, in terms of the scale and generous access involved, the banks chief operating officer said. Some 300,000 interactions take place at our branches monthly, and now customers will be able to enjoy free digital access to these magazines during their visits. This is another move to provide a better digital advantage experience to our customers.”

Consumers just log on to the Wi-Fi network and gain the option to browse whatever content is offered, at their convenience. Free Wi-Fi and free content. What’s not to like?

While such partnerships add value to consumers and allow publishers to propagate their content to more consumers, brand partners do not lose out either. By looking at consumers’ content consumption analytics, brands can gain insight into their lifestyles and preferences, which will in turn help them to develop more targeted campaigns.

Collaborating between publishers

For smaller publishers with fewer titles in their stables, this idea might appear a little remote. However, there is nothing stopping them from collaborating with other publishers. By aggregating their content properties and brands, they will be able to reach a more varied and larger audience and also unlock a larger advertising inventory.

Publishers have the content advantage, but in the digital arena where content is always readily available, the issue of who wins this digital arms race comes down to who can proliferate their content and amplify their reach better and faster.

Innovating on distribution allows magazine publishers to reach new and also relevant audiences on an unprecedented scale, and capture them at more micro-moments — a proposition that surely would not be lost on their advertisers.

About Ivan Tan

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