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Shaun Seow for St Regis Perspectives, 11 July 2013

Mediacorp banks on Toggle and Channel NewsAsia for digital ad dollars

Just this morning, Mediacorp CEO Shaun Seow (pictured) conveyed to employees the strategic direction the company will take to serve a new generation and succeed in the digital age. This follows the recent discussion Members of Parliament had about the role of Public Service Broadcasting in a digital age during the Committee of Supply debate.

In a memo to all staff sent earlier today seen by Marketing, Seow addressed the company’s commercial objectives and highlighted the company’s aim to enhance its content, channels and capabilities. More importantly, it will now decisively move into digital, said Seow.

Audiences are moving rapidly online to consume entertainment and information. Trailing them are ad dollars. Even as we keep our core – TV, radio, print – strong, it is critical that we move decisively into Digital.

Going forward, Toggle and Channel NewsAsia take centrestage.

Discussing Toggle, Mediacorp’s over-the-top service Toggle, Seow explained that Mediacorp will be investing aggressively in original Toggle content, more than doubling the number of Toggle Originals in the next year from the current 10. He added:

Toggle does not aim to be a Netflix with its big budget productions; what it wants to be is a digital entertainment destination of choice for Singapore audiences.

He added, “Putting our money where our mouth is, we will be investing aggressively in original Toggle content; in the new FY”. The company will now  more than double the number of Toggle Originals from the current 10.

“As a company, we have to see Over-the-top (OTT) in the same light as Free-To-Air, not one playing second fiddle,” he added. He added Mediacorp will also be beefing up its commissioning efforts and listening more to  audiences.

As such, going forward, before committing to a TV drama, the company will think about content piloting and audience testing. Meanwhile, Mediacorp vows to also be more open to co-creating content with partners as it recognises that it no longer has “monopoly on talent and ideas”. It will also look to incorporate Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) to up its game.

Meanwhile, Seow has plans to push Channel NewsAsia’s digital presence by putting more emphasis online and breaking top news on its website, app and social channels instead of TV or radio. As such Mediacorp will also look to expand its pool of digital news producers.

“In all our digital efforts, we will invest significantly more in their supporting technology, so that the user experience (UX) is as good as the best out there. This is not going to be easy, will not come cheap; the bar is being raised constantly by well-financed global players. We will just have to be very clever in our use of resources,” he added.

Future plans

Seow added that the company will build up its  digital ecosystem through lunch-time talks conducted by internal and external experts.  This is with the aim is to help its staff increase their digital quotient.

He added resources are not limitless, as such the company will  prioritise investments that most ensure efficient and effective use of  funds.

“We are not alone in the shifting sands of media. All media companies are reinventing. Staying passive is not an option. I am glad we started the transformation process five years ago. Now is the time to focus on our core, with the three Cs – Content, Channels and Capabilities. We must be bold, embrace change and make forward-looking decisions to build a Mediacorp that keeps getting better,” he added.

The company will also be making all of these investments with the help of its shareholder, Temasek Holdings.

“With a commitment to financial sustainability, we have to find more ways to develop Mediacorp commercially. Serving a new generation of audiences will also make our business more viable, especially in the digital realm where advertisers are continually assessing the benefits of increasing their ad spend in this space,” he added.

“That is why we will be strengthening our digital monetisation efforts, deepening our skills set and leveraging our transmedia uniqueness, customer insights and ad tech. We must reap the financial returns of our investments so we can reinvest into our content and capabilities,” he said.

Most recently, Mediacorp made a number of appointments in its commercial group to boost the company’s digital sales and integrated solutions planning capabilities. It appointed Jennifer Chase as head of its digital media solutions unit and Keith Cheong as vice president of sales.

It also hired Dasheng Toh six months ago as Mediacorp’s head of commercial planning and solutions, a newly created role and aims at strengthening the planning and innovation of Mediacorp’s solutions to trade partners.

It also promoted Debra Soon to chief customer officer as former deputy CEO and chief customer officer Chang Long Jong stepped down from his role, taking on a role at MM2 Entertainment.

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