Print innovations and digital-centric future discussed at Publish Asia 2018 in Bali

The recent Publish Asia 2018 in Bali marked the WAN-IFRA event’s return to the Indonesian island resort city for second time. Organised at Bali International Convention Centre at Westin Nusa Dua from April 24-26, the conference was attended by more than 400 media executives from 30 countries, gathered for exciting masterclass, conference sessions and networking events. The conference highlighted some key insights
of the industry with a focus on print media innovatives developed relatively for tranformation towards a digital-centric future.

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Publish Asia 2018 featured a league of more than 30 top Asian and international speakers, which included Rajiv C Lochan, CEO, The Hindu Group Publishing Pvt Ltd; Jayant Bhargava, Vice CEO, Kompas Gramedia; Anthony Tan, Deputy CEO, Singapore Press Holdings; Elsie Cheung, COO, South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd; Grzegorz Piechota, Google Digital News Senior Research Fellow, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University; and

Marie-Claire Fennessy, Head of Live Desk, Data and Client Communications, Reuters, and others.

Emphasis on print

The conference focused on repositioning and optimising the news publishing business with an emphasis on print, which represents the core of the industry and now growing in India. Evey edition of Publish Asia addresses the management and business issues facing newspaper publishers and examines the emerging new business models and revenue streams.

The masterclass on Digital Platform Strategy for News Publishers on April 24 was organised with a focus on intensive, practical, and case study-based course for managers of legacy and pure play digital news media companies. The session appealed most to those responsible for digital strategy, editorial, marketing, sales and new product development. Based on Harvard Business School teaching methods, the masterclass led participants to use various digital business frameworks useful to analyse case studies and plan future initiatives at their respective companies.

Conference opening

Commenced with the Breakfast Session titled ‘Transforming Newsrooms’ Structures and Workflows from Print Focus to Digital-first’, the main conference of Publish Asia 2018 kick-started with a discussion attended by speakers, namely, Finn Bialaska Jensen, Solution Advisor, CCI and Ulrik Cramer, Solution Strategist, CCI. Followed up next was the Session 1: Media Trends and Outlook 2018, moderated by Joon-Nie Lau, Program Director, WAN-IFRA APAC, with speakers comprising Thomas Jacob, COO, WAN-IFRA, Germany and Nasr ul Hadi, ICFJ Knight Fellow. The speakers discussed about the global trends and outlook for news media companies in 2018 that WAN-IFRA’s latest research has identified. The speakers also discussed the latest technological developments that are impacting the media industry.

In the Session 2 under the topic ‘Reassessing News Publishing Business Models’ another panel of speakers discussed how constant changes have been taking place in the print and digital advertising ecosystem and the rapid evolution of news consumption trends that compel news publishers to permanently reassess the relevancy of their business strategies. The speakers at the session were Anthony Tan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd; Abdul Jalil Hamid, CEO, The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd; and Rajiv C Lochan, Managing Director & CEO, The Hindu Group Publishing Pvt Ltd. This session had constructive discussion on monetisation solutions and emphasis of how successful media companies would intend to foster an internal culture of innovation which allows them to rapidly adapt to an ever changing media world.

With ‘native advertising’ as topic of discussion, the Session 3 was titled ‘Content Marketing, The Right Way’ in which a panel of keynote speakers discussed about spectacular growth in native advertising over the last few years. The session was moderated by Dian Gemiano, GM Marketing, PT Kompas Cyber Media, with Damien Bray, Founder and CEO, Brand New Media, as keynote speaker. They discussed about capacity to produce high quality content and offer advertisers a safe context for their brand. The discussion had a conclusion that news publishers are ideally positioned to take advantage of this trend.

Designed to explore what value propositions leading platforms can currently make to publishers and how media companies are adjusting to the latest market developments, the Session 4 on ‘Rethinking Digital Platforms Strategy’ has a broad discussion on Facebook’s news feed. The session had moderator Grzegorz Piechota, Research Associate, Harvard Business School and Oxford University, UK, with a panel of speakers, viz. Chris Janz, Managing Director, Australian Metro Publishing, Fairfax Media; and Kate Beddoe, Head of News & Publishing Partnerships, APAC, Google. Although the social media network’s move might have only a marginal impact for most legacy media, establishing a relevant relationship with large digital platforms nonetheless remains a critical component for any digital publishing strategy.

Artificial intelligence

The first part of the closing day of the conference on April 26 was opened with the Session 5: Improving Audience Engagement with AI and Smart Data, with speakers including Md Tajdin Hassan, Head of Marketing, The Daily Star; Lindsay Nicol, Lead Editorial Analyst, The Financial Times, UK; Ben Whitelaw, Head of Community and Digital Development, The Times and The Sunday Times. For the past 12 months there has been a new topic of discussion among the news publishers concerning ‘data’ as key component to connect with readers. The new topic is AI (Artificial Intelligent). However, most media organisations remain unclear about the kind of resources and investment they should make in order to effectively benefit from these technologies in a way that is adapted to their operations size and business culture. The session gave a focus on how could multimedia groups connect with readers in new and deeper ways and increase the impact and ROI of their news content.

Undying printed newspapers

In the follow-up, the Session 6 titled ‘High-Value Print Production’ had a discussion on printed newspapers, which are stubbornly refusing to die. In its competition with lower-priced and faster digital news distribution channels, printed newspapers retain unique advantages in terms of user experience and advertising impact. By investing in materials and equipment for the production of higher-quality print products, news publishers can strengthen this competitive edge, attracting new customers, developing new products and entering new markets. These are what all highlighted and discussed in this session in which Manfred Werfel, WAN-IFRA Deputy CEO, moderated a host of speakers comprising Sanat Hazra, Technical and Production Director, The Times of India; and Ian Hamilton, Sales Director SEA, UPM.

Followed up next was the Session 6 (Breakout) with topic ‘Safeguarding Trust in News in the Digital Era’. The discussion in the session was on adoption of editorial practices to the immediacy of the social media era in order to safeguard their journalism standards and credibility. Former Editor-in-Chief of Bangkok Post, Pichai Chuensuksawadi, now an independent media and communications consultant, hosted the session on new production and distribution tools for a better protection of the journalists’ work and of their sources.

Brand building

With its keynote speaker, Alok Sanwal, COO, Dainik Jagran-iNEXT, in the follow up was the Session 7 titled ‘From Brand Building to Brand Activation’. The speaker talked about rebuilding and strengthening trust in news as a major challenge for securing the future sustainability of quality journalism. At times when the general trust in news media is eroded by repeated ‘fake news’ scandals and accusations, brands building should be a crucial concern for publishers.

In the follow-up, Session 7 (Breakout) with topic ‘New Products for Engaging Gen X to Z’ had some keynote speakers, like Umapagan Ampikaipakan, Producer/Host, BFM Radio, Malaysia; and Sarmad Ali, Managing Director, Jang Media Group, Pakistan, who talked about multimedia editorial and commercial products, relying on innovative technologies – such as AR, VR, podcasts or the integration of QR code embedded videos in print classifieds – that open up new monetisation opportunities, increase reader’s engagement and pull younger audiences towards news publishers’ platforms.

Journalism that Makes a Difference

‘Journalism that Makes a Difference’—this was the topic of the Session 8, in which the speakers discussed how would shift from advertising to circulation revenues accelerate; in this, news publishers must more than ever make sure that their journalism is relevant and positively impact their readers’ lives. Washington Post editor Marty Baron put in, “Readers have to see and feel everyday that we are trying to do something important and unique…”

The session revolved around discussion on investigative journalism, data journalism and other editorial projects that really make a difference in the communities they serve. The session had Pichai Chuensuksawadi as moderator for a panel of speakers including Wahyu Dhyatmika, Investigative Reporter and Editor, Tempo Media Group; Scilla Alecci, Investigative Reporter and Video Journalist, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ); and Wolfgang Krach, Editor-in-Chief, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany.

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