AsiaOne, the content aggregation portal jointly owned by mm2 Asia and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), has found success with pushing original lifestyle and entertainment content through video-based formats.
It reported between June 2018 and June 2019, that unique visitors to its site more than doubled, recording a 108% increase. According to Comscore, site visits to the portal have also increased to 1.2m monthly as at June 2019, making the site the fourth most read in Singapore.
Marco Sparmberg, the director of digital media at AsiaOne, tells The Drum that lifestyle and entertainment have long been the 23-year-old portal’s forte, which means the pivot to video-based formats was a natural progression.
“Our focus on increasing original lifestyle and entertainment content, especially through video-based formats, is in line with our strategic push to expand the reach of original content across AsiaOne’s platforms,” he explains.
“Known for our legacy in content aggregation, we wanted to open a new chapter as part of the brand’s evolution in offering a wider and richer range of media news publishing.”
He adds that the move came as AsiaOne wanted to serve its readers with more relevant and tailored stories, and with video content being a universal growth driver, there were opportunities for video-based formats to better engage with advertiser needs and provide an alternative way for readers to consume local lifestyle and entertainment news.
Sparmberg, the former audience development lead in the digital group at broadcaster Mediacorp, was brought into mm2 Asia in November 2018 after the entertainment giant had invested in AsiaOne in July to become co-owners of the portal with SPH.
He was tasked with building an all-new team for tech, gaming and digital culture, and revamping the portal’s digital revenue models. Sparmberg also worked to establish content marketing partnerships with social media platforms, agencies and media companies.
A month after Sparmberg came onboard, AsiaOne began to offer a cross-platform news experience for readers, where it covered multiple angles to an event or story through different content formats.
For example, an entertainment event such as a concert could be covered through social media either through live threads or video streaming, directly engaging with audiences who are present at the event as well as audiences who are following the event, from wherever they may be.
A post-event article that is typically expanded with an original video series that is then distributed across multiple channels will follow soon after.
“Our coverage of Jewel Changi Airport demonstrates this approach as we developed a story under the #Joeyjios series – an original series where readers follow the adventures of our reporter, Joey Lee,” explains Sparmberg.
“Not only does this help to sustain readership following, but expanding a story with an original series also allows us to curate consistent streams of content across multiple channels.”
Through this omnichannel approach to news, AsiaOne hopes it can better create a more holistic brand presence that provides multiple touch-points to experience an event. Sparmberg says this approach also allows the portal to tailor the delivery of its content to the audience’s media consumption preferences and habits.
Staying true to its roots
AsiaOne is not forgetting its roots in content aggregation as that is still what a majority of its audience comes to its site for.
It has expanded its network to source and aggregate a wider range of content from every country across the Asia Pacific region with publication partners such as South China Morning Post, The Asian Parent and Shopback.
Previously, as a majority-owned SPH entity, it only carried content from the publisher’s publications and magazines such as The Straits Times, The New Paper, The Business Times and Hardware Zone.
AsiaOne has also realigned its editorial operations, focusing on social media as a central driver of the daily news cycle.
“Guided by data analytics to help us understand and analyze current conversations as well as video consumption patterns, we then identify emerging trending stories,” explains Sparmberg.
“Additionally, we collaborate with and report directly from key online communities which our team proactively maps on an ongoing basis. We are finding that this is quickly becoming an integral part of providing more relevant and engaging content to our audience.”
Working with advertisers
When working with advertisers, AsiaOne wants to move beyond offering them traditional programmatic or advertorial deals and instead offer them multiple commercial content packages.
This is because as a joint-venture between SPH and MM2 Asia, it feels it is empowered with a unique blend of editorial and entertainment media expertise that can deliver innovative end-to-end content marketing services from campaign ideation all the way through to its execution across its networks, which includes partner brands.
“While we have been very successful in our co-created articles offering for branded content in recent months, we are also seeing an uptick in demand for social media content, personality-driven branded videos as well as sponsored coverage of product launches or events – all of which forms part of our newly expanded catalog to meet advertisers’ needs,” says Sparmberg.
The road ahead
Next on Sparmberg’s agenda is to revamp the AsiaOne website and mobile app look and feel, as well as improving the reader’s journey across these platforms to better demonstrate AsiaOne’s commitment to deliver a unique and impactful news experience for all.
To prepare for that eventuality, AsiaOne is currently exploring applied machine learning to repackage content into different formats to suit different readers’ needs and create that personalized consumption experience.
The revamp will also come with a set of product integrations that will be tailored to advertisers’ needs. This includes the options to integrate in-article conversion widgets for ticketing or voting for example.
“As for content offering, our video team is working hard to develop more original video series anchored in new host personalities as well as boost our offering with dedicated podcasts and Livestream formats, particularly for the tech and games section of our site,” says Sparmberg.
“This will enable us to explore emerging communities around eSports, online gaming and digital culture across the region.”
The Drum will look at the topic of publisher collaboration and innovation at the upcoming Programmatic Punch APAC, where a panel will discuss the new types of innovations publishers are adopting.