AR enhances value for value for Cleo's community in Singapore

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While its founding editor, now aged 77, moves to a new challenge as head of Australia's public broadcaster, Cleo magazine is happily moving into a new era in Singapore.

In the island state, the title - in print and online - is part of the portfolio of SPH Magazines, while the original Cleo - with Ita Buttrose its founding editor under Kerry Packer - was killed by German owners Bauer Media in 2016.

Hafizah Hazahal (pictured) of SPH Magazines' insights and intelligence unit says there are no shortcuts in maintaining the raison d'être of a magazine brand created for young adults 25 years ago, in the current age.

"We went back to the drawing board, and after a lot of primary and secondary research and many first-hand observations, two things stood out for the team," she says.

"Video is the content format commanding millennials' attention today. Our survey of Singapore millennials found they spend an average of 92 minutes watching videos each day from a variety of sources. They also actively share them to entertain and connect with friends.

"Millennials love being a part of a community. They are commonly misunderstood as being anti-social, preferring to look at screens instead of meeting people. However, the idea of a 'community' has evolved for this generation. While previous generations depend on physical spaces and face-to-face interactions to create and feel a sense of community, millennials are building communities across the world, thanks to social media. In fact, the 'always on' nature of social media means this generation is possibly interacting with their virtual friends much more than their predecessors."

Hazahal says Cleo became convinced that while print still maintains its appeal, it will be able to engage and add much more value to its millennial readers by getting into the digital space. This resulted in a strategic overhaul of the magazine, cutting across print and online platforms.

In its refreshed version, Cleo's print publication is to play a primary role as a 'shop window' for all its online platforms. All print stories will be available online and will be further augmented with additional content.

QR codes will be used to direct print readers to Cleo's digital stories, and online there will be more video series involving influencers and local celebrities - "all of which are open for brand tie-ups," she says. Editorial staffers are also building their own social influence by sharing their vertical knowledge through various episodic series.

Cleo will also channel dedicated efforts and resources to grow and engage its reader community with Cleo Society. For example, print stories featuring Cleo Society members will have a QR code directing readers to the Society sign-up page. There will also be events involving the community, which may potentially be another source of revenue for the magazine.

Hazahal says the refresh is just one of a number of developments at SPH Magazines, with digital technology figuring centrally in initiatives to deliver more value to readers. One example is the use of AR to create a virtual character for a top Chinese women's magazine to appeal to a new growing community of affluent, bilingual women. "This was well received by readers and advertisers alike," she says. "We are also continuing to make strides in our popular WIFI Library solution, which amplified the distribution network of magazines.

"In 2019, we are delving deeper into audience profiling through machine learning or artificial intelligence, which will allow advertisers to reach more finely targeted audiences.

Pictured: Understanding Millennials' reading and viewing habits helped Cleo develop a more appropriate offering to its audience.

• Based on an INMA media research blog

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