Amid print-media gloom, SPH offers personalised front pages (plus flowers and champagne)

Singapore media conglomerate rolls out personalised print after announced job cuts, falling advertisement revenue and merger of titles.

Source: The Straits Times
Source: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Acting on the call for print media to innovate its offerings, media conglomerate Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has launched a personalised print service for its flagship daily The Straits Times.

Readers can order a copy of the day's front page with an added personal message at an introductory price of S$1,000 (US$700). The recipient of the message will receive their framed copy, plus a bouquet of roses and a bottle of champagne.

“Personalised print was initiated to engage our readers in such a way that they can bring joy to others with a special message printed on the front page of their newspaper of choice," Elsie Chua, chief marketing officer of the SPH integrated marketing division told Campaign Asia-Pacific. The service extends to vernacular dailies LianHe Zaobao and Berita Harian in Mandarin and Malay, respectively, cutting across a broad segment of over 2 million SPH print readers daily.

SPH dominates the mainstream media landscape in Singapore with more than 10 print titles. But even its favoured position in a tightly government controlled market has not shielded SPH from the gloom plaguing the print media industry. In October, the company announced a 10 percent job cut as well a merger of its My Paper and The New Paper brands, which will be distributed free. Advertisement revenue has also dipped 9.2 percent for the third quarter this year. Perhaps the only bright spot has been the company’s recent investment into video creation platform Wochit through its corporate venture arm SPH Media Fund.

Asked on how this product could have a sustainable impact in the face of declining appreciation for print, Chua said: “A lot of young people in Singapore still have affinity for newspapers despite options for other media channels”.

“This could be partly due to the encouragement by teachers in schools for students to use our newspapers as a source of learning materials and the higher base of print subcribers in our environment,” she explained, referring to the ST Schools and ST Run programmes run by the company to engage young readers.

The Straits Times reaches out to young readers through ST Schools. Source: SPH Digital

The Straits Times was ranked the most-read English daily in Nielsen’s Singapore Media Index Report this year. Its print edition is read by 22 percent of Singapore adults, while its digital version has a 10.4 percent readership. The broadsheet currently has a paywall with 15 free articles per month. Today, a free tabloid published by competitor Mediacorp, has a 11.4 percent daily readership in print and 1.8 percent in digital.

The Straits Times in print alone has about 280,000 daily readers below 29, covering 27 percent of the market segment," Chua said. "This is a sizeable market segment for advertisers.” According to Datalicious, print accounts for 42 percent of all advertising expenditure in Singapore.

“The print product can continue to innovate with creative ad formats and we are integrating our marketing efforts to provide media solutions that can be placed not only on print and digital but also publicised through our radio stations and on-the-ground events,” said Chua. Apart from personalised print, the paper's new brand initiative ST+ offers special interest websites and digital media platforms to its exclusive events.

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