Grappling with declining print readership and the ensuing loss of both circulation and advertising revenue, and then seeing their digital dollars ravaged by the duopoly of Google and Facebook, publishers can be said to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
They have since fought back by scaling up their audience reach with audience networks and by proffering premium audiences and content, as well as a brand-safe environment.
How about printers then - whose fates are inextricably tied to that of publishers? They too had fought against the decline of print by innovating with technology. Digital printing, for instance, enabled them to offer customised or targeted printing services to their publishing clients. Augmented reality is another technological innovation that helps printers and publishers link printed content to digital media such as videos, creating an immersive multimedia experience for the reader. However, all these initiatives and innovations require additional investments, which could be hard to come by in a challenged business environment with a prognosis that is at best hazy at the moment.
It's against this back drop that a new strategic partnership was struck up between publisher and printer, and two long-time business partners - SPH Magazines and Times Publishing. The latter has been the trusted printing service provider to the region's leading magazine publisher for decades now, and the alliance was conceived to elevate this long-time partnership to the next level.
SPH Magazines acts as the digital enabling partner to digitise the magazines and publications currently printed by Times for other publishers. However, the value of the partnership does not stop there. Publications which are digitised are then able to exponentially expand their distribution channels – as complete issues on digital newsstands such as Magzter and Google Play Newsstand, and as repackaged content units on SPH Magazines’ MyReadingRoom and Facebook Instant Articles.
Beyond these channels, SPH Magazines is always looking for innovative ways to grow its audience base. An example is its WIFI Library solution which leverages off WIFI networks in retail and lifestyle establishments in Singapore and regional countries. Upon logging onto the WIFI networks, consumers in these establishments will gain access to SPH Magazines’ digital library to read any of its content, free-of-charge.
In a nutshell, by joining SPH Magazines' Digital Network, printers can elevate their offering from printing services to a print-plus solution provider. They now have the ability to digitise and open up multiple distribution channels for their clients. All these without incurring hefty investments in hardware, software and operational resources.
In addition, SPH Magazines’ extensive portfolio of titles enables aggregation of audiences into key audience networks, enabling ad campaigns to be executed across titles. By partnering with SPH Magazines, printers are thus opening up more ad inventories for their clients who can now tap onto SPH Magazines’ innovative ad solutions. These include cutting-edge ad formats that adapt to digital reading habits such as dynamic interstitials (for digital editions) and dynamic page skinning (for web pages), designed to capture readers’ attention in a cluttered digital environment.
Best of all, it's already a win-win situation for printers from the get-go moment ─ minimal investments and yet vast potential for incremental revenue from their clients' subscription and advertising. But most importantly, this partnership is significant as it is the coming together of two media players from two ends of the industry - traditionally the client and the service provider - battling a common fate by innovating and strategic alliance.
Mr. Siew Peng Yim, CEO, Times Publishing, said: "This initiative with SPH Magazines is part of our on-going strategy to make changes to our business models to sustain relevance in the industry which is in an ever-shifting technological landscape."
Mr. Loh Yew Seng, CEO, SPH Magazines, added: "The collaboration marks a first in the region between two established media companies joining forces to counter the challenges of digital disruption. Times has been our trusted partner in printing services for decades now and this initiative brings our partnership to the next level. We look forward to working with them to harness SPH Magazines' digital expertise, as well as our vast audience and distribution networks, to further expand and strengthen their value proposition to their customers."
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