Insights for publishers: Singapore Press Holdings on digital transformation in the news industry

Insights for publishers: Singapore Press Holdings on digital transformation in the news industry

Published
March 2020

From notifications to newsletters, there are more ways than ever to keep up with current events and forward-thinking publishers are prioritizing digital transformation to develop timely and relevant content. Watch our interview with Anthony Tan, deputy CEO of Singapore Press Holdings, to learn how the publication is revamping its team structures to stay ahead in the digital era.

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News organizations globally are being disrupted in the digital era

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We spoke to Singapore Press Holding to find out how its business is embracing technological change

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Anthony Tan: For the longest time the whole value chain in producing a newspaper had its

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Anthony Tan: own tempo. When the digital onslaught came, things moved at lightning speed.

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Anthony Tan: The opportunity for a company like Singapore Press Holdings which has traditionally

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Anthony Tan: been rather local-based because we publish newspapers and newspapers were

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Anthony Tan: physical. They used to work with newspaper vendors and it was a well-oiled

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Anthony Tan: system. Today, they have to work with platforms like Google, working out how a

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Anthony Tan: tool like Subscribe with Google or Google Analytics could help us.

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Balancing a data-driven approach with editorial judgment

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Anthony Tan: The audience actually gives you the feedback in what they read, in what they interact with.

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Anthony Tan: The newsroom had to start looking at data, about what people were looking at,

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Anthony Tan: what time of the day they were looking at it. But being audience-first and

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Anthony Tan: audience-centric also sometimes needs you to remove yourself from following

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Anthony Tan: what exactly they want so there's always a very deliberate process of how

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Anthony Tan: we then select what stories to pursue and long features that we pursue which

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Anthony Tan: may make sense in the longer run and not driven by short-term algorithms.

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Developing new capabilities for the digital era

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Anthony Tan: For the first time in the company we had a role called the Chief Product Officer,

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Anthony Tan: we have product managers, we have a design thinking team. Some of these roles never

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Anthony Tan: existed in the newsroom. There were new capabilities. We took inspiration not

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Anthony Tan: only from news organizations that moved a bit ahead of us in the digitization

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Anthony Tan: curve, we also went to look at other companies and said what are the best

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Anthony Tan: lessons we can take from them, what is it you do that your consumer keeps coming

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Anthony Tan: back, what are the skills and capabilities we lack?

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Bringing measurability and effectiveness to advertisers

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Anthony Tan: We are a company that provides multi-platform measurability.

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Anthony Tan: The ideas gleaned from Google Ad Manager, the way it is done, how

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Anthony Tan: programmatic ads are done digital ads are done.

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Anthony Tan: We are now trying to put in some of these lessons and where technically possible try to do the same bit on

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Anthony Tan: measurability and effectiveness for our advertisers.

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Anthony Tan: In the past the digital platforms were competitors then people coined terms — frenemy.

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Anthony Tan: What does frenemy mean?

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Anthony Tan: I think in the spirit of it, I would define it as being able to cooperate

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Anthony Tan: where it makes sense to. The ability for us then therefore as a news organization

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Anthony Tan: to continue doing what we have been doing in a better way, reach out to more

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Anthony Tan: them, inform, educate, help people make sense of the world, understand the world,

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Anthony Tan: maybe learn the lessons, and histories of the world, and maybe make the world

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Anthony Tan: a better place going forward.

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