Coconuts Media acquires Asia City Media Group's entire Thailand biz

Coconuts Media has acquired all Thailand brands and businesses from Asia City Media Group, the owner of BK Magazine. The business acquired include lifestyle and food magazine BK Magazine; Asia City Studio, an in-house content and creative agency working with brands such as Citibank, Sofitel and Kiatnakin Bank; Soimilk, a fashion and lifestyle online publication for Gen Z and Millennials; Top Tables, BK Magazine's annual list of the top 100 restaurants in Bangkok with supporting print guide and awards show; BK Restaurant Week, an annual Bangkok restaurant booking promotion; and Top Spots Thailand, the online travel guide produced by BK Magazine.

Coconuts Media will manage the ongoing publication and operation of these brands effective immediately. It will also continue publishing the bi-weekly print run BK Magazine, which is distributed to 400 venues across Bangkok. According to BK Magazine's media kit, 67.24% of its readers are Thai residents and 61.81% of them live in Bangkok. Their age range is between 25 to 40 years old and 50.1% of males. Its media kit did not reveal the magazine's circulation rate. With the acquisition, Coconuts Media now has two million unique visitors per month on average, 1.5 million to coconuts.co, 220,000 to bkmagazine.com, and 290,000 to soimilk.com. The company also plans on selling 360-degree campaigns across digital, print, video and events.

In a phone conversation with Marketing, founder and CEO of Coconuts Media, Byron Perry (pictured), said 19 individuals from BK Magazine will be joining the Coconuts team, with five individuals from the sales team and four from Asia City Studio. There will also be about two individuals from creative and production joining Coconuts. He declined to reveal the monetary value of the acquisition. Coconuts currently has an in-house creative agency team known as Grove, which Perry said was launched last November and "is a redefinition of our sales and marketing teams". Some of the clients it works with include Hilton and Mercedes-Benz. The addition of Asia City Studios will strengthen its ability to carry out creative services and a new lead will be joining on 7 October to oversee the growth of the in-house agency. Perry told Marketing that details on the new hires will be revealed at a later date.

"Thailand and Singapore have historically always been the strongest market for us. Previously, it was Thailand but over the last two years, Singapore has been the strongest in terms of audience and sales. Last year, Singapore contributed about 67% of our ad revenue while Thailand contributed 20%. With the acquisition, the ad revenue contributions from both countries is projected to be equal for this year and the next," Perry said. That said, he believes that Singapore ultimately has more potential given that it is "the Asia Pacific hub of advertising" and companies are keen to invest in the country. 

When asked why Coconuts Media decided to keep the print magazine despite the medium facing headwinds due to the rise of digital and the impact of COVID-19, Perry said print is a very important aspect of Asia City Media Group's revenue. There are ongoing campaigns that have already been bought, he added. Also, with the barrier to entry for YouTube and podcast, for example, being low in this digital age, Perry explained that print is a more exclusive place for ads to appear on. "I hope that print can continue to be a really important aspect of what we are doing despite the printing costs," he added.

Coconuts plans to promote its enhanced offering across the brands it owns and through clients to ensure they can purchase cross-publishing campaigns. "I have known about Asia City Media Group since I moved to Asia about 10 years ago, and I have always looked up to BK Magazine and thought it was great. About five years ago, I met Greg Duncan, CEO of Asia City Media Group and the prospect [of the acquisition] was even brought up at that time but we did not revisit it until recent months," Perry explained. 

He added that Coconuts is also exploring the idea of acquiring and merging with other media companies across the region where it has presence in, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines, with different entities. Perry explained that this is an opportune time with COVID-19 having impacted the revenues of several media companies. "That was the impetus of this [acquisition] conversation," he added.

Perry said Asia City Media Group has a strong Thailand sales team, beloved media brands in BK and Soimilk, and strength in print and events. "This will complement the  larger and more regional digital audience of Coconuts, as well as our premium video production skills," he added.

Meanwhile, Asia City Media Group's Duncan said the acquisition will accelerate the transition of Asia City brands in the digital media space. "It is a great strategic fit in terms of content, reach and skill-set, and provides new opportunities for our well-loved and well-established brands to grow," Duncan said.

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