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Star Refocuses On Video In Malaysia

Star Media Group, Malaysia’s biggest publisher, is marshalling its video resources for the launch of a new video portal next month, called Star TV.

The move underscores the company’s drive to develop digital revenue streams, formalized after changing its name from Star Publications while unveiling a new suite of digital advertising tools at the beginning of June.

Star, which still relies on print for most of its income, had also mulled adding digital terrestrial channels to its portfolio to diversify into free-to-air TV, but opted instead to devote more energies towards digital transition.

One particular priority is building up Star’s video production capabilities, initially focusing on local Malaysian content before expanding to create material for the wider Asean region as part of a bigger regional push.

Digital verticals from Star’s existing print and radio business each have a mandate and budget to create video geared towards specific audiences, a focus that also aligns with the group’s new advertising platform, called Audience Interest Marketing (AIM).

These videos will be aggregated on Star TV, which aims to host 2,000 videos, excluding news, in its 12 months.

Star had already been ramping up news video. Its flagship news brand Star Online posted 680 pieces in June, up from 124 last November.

“We have a lot of text and audio content but not a lot of video, except through Li TV,” says Star’s chief digital officer, Roy Tan, who is steering the group’s digital transition.

Star has a 51% stake in Li TV, a regional pay-TV network, which acquires and distributes premium programming across six markets in Asia.

a local lens

The new site, which replaces Star’s former video offering SwitchUp TV, will focus on creating its own local content in a bid to compete for eyeballs and ad dollars with other local publishers.

Tan feels Star’s access to audience data, spanning a classifieds business as well as news and entertainment, gives the company an edge in an increasingly competitive market for digital advertising by providing a richer profile of audience demographics and behavior.

Through AIM, Star also became the first local company in Malaysia to offer guarantees on the visibility of ads placed on its digital network, tackling a particular concern for advertisers. Astro and Media Prima, the country’s other two major media players, are believed to be working on viewability metrics of their own.

The launch of AIM represents a complete overhaul of Star digital ad offer, which last year was traded entirely by time, sold at daily, weekly or monthly rates.

After encouraging results from current users, Star’s next priority is broadening the take-up of AIM, especially as advertisers and agencies start drawing up next year’s marketing plans.

“People who have bought it come back and buy again,” Tan says. “That’s a good sign but not everyone is picking it up yet. A lot of sales are being driven by a small number of advertisers.”

Digital spend remains relatively small in Malaysia, with Google and Facebook taking the lion’s share of current spend, although the market has seen a series of initiatives from major players, including a new digital ad measurement system from Nielsen, as well as investments in return-path data and single source measurement from Astro, which could transform the market.

The new initiatives should help accelerate the shift of ad budgets from traditional to digital platforms, notes Kenneth Wong, president of the Malaysian Digital Association in addition to heading digital for media agency Carat Malaysia, as brands incorporate more audience data into their media plans.

“Agencies in Malaysia have already started on it,” Wong adds, “but will take some time to be able to automate all the new data sets for timely reports and learnings.”

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