Astro Digital Publications makes online debut with 6 titles

  • E-magazines under Astro’s portfolio now available for Apple devices
  • Digital experience will offer expanded marketing options, says company

Astro Digital Publications makes online debut with 6 titlesMEDIA giant Astro has made a big and aggressive move into Malaysia’s digital media space with the launch of Astro Digital Publications (ADP) and the introduction of six digital publications.
Speaking at the launch event held on Jan 21, Astro chief operating officer Henry Tan (pic) said the launch marks a key milestone for the company’s publication arm as the “first fully integrated digital publisher in Malaysia.”
“With immediate effect, we are now known as Astro Digital Publications. The world of publications is changing rapidly. Digital publications like ours will open up a new world of exciting possibilities for consumers and advertisers alike.

"We will go all out to excite our readers – satisfy their mind, feast their eyes and feed their fingers,” he proclaimed.
The six publications that are now available for download via Apple Newsstand are Style (English women’s fashion lifestyle), Car (automotive), InTrend (Malay women’s fashion lifestyle), FHM (English men’s lifestyle), Men’s Uno (Chinese men’s fashion lifestyle) and ifeel (Chinese women’s fashion lifestyle).
Tan said that the company is shifting focus from a static read to live images with interactivity and engagement as the main focus.
“This is sure to excite our customers as we want them to experience our magazines through an entirely different platform.
“It is now possible for content to come to life on a digital magazine. For example, sport fans can download a digital sports e-magazine for free and enjoy their favourite sports in the full 360 format with more in-depth details such as football action, football pundits, tally of scores and so on,” he said.
Heavily touting the expanded benefits for advertisers with the increased interactive element of digital content, Tan said advertisers are no longer limited to advertorials in print magazines but can “benefit from a holistic yet innovative approach to their campaigns through interactive magazines, websites, social media, activation, and e-commerce opportunities.”
“Their campaigns can showcase the awesome world of augmented reality by videos to engage and captivate consumers on a wide range of platforms that includes mobile, online and iPads, to name just a few,” he added.
Tan also said that advertisers could enjoy access to Astro’s 3.4 million households subscriber base via their digital publications.
“We’re making a modest assumption that over 60% of Astro households own smartphones or tablets. Assuming that two individuals of each of these households read our magazines, we have the estimated collective readership of four million quality consumers, thus making Astro Digital Publications potentially the largest distributed digital platform in the country,” he claimed.
Given the digital products’ initial availability only on the Apple iOS platform, when asked whether the company had any data that showed how many of its subscribers were using Apple devices specifically, Tan said Astro could “safely assume” that 40-50% of its subscribers were on Apple devices with the rest on Google Android-based devices.
“We plan to make our publications available on the Android platform no later than May of this year, and if we can make it happen earlier, we will,” he added.
The company has no current plans to launch its digital offerings on BlackBerry or Windows Phone platforms.
Astro Digital Publications makes online debut with 6 titlesADP chief operating officer Sree Pathmanathan (pic) said his team aims to provide a first of their kind, fully-interactive, e-magazines that deliver rich entertainment, with friendly user-navigation and bespoke content designed currently for the iPad, and soon on Android, that translates into an engaging touchscreen experience.
Sree said that the entire process from concept to execution in the transition of Astro Publications to its current digital-focused stance took about 18 months. The print editions of the magazines will still be available in the market.
When asked how Astro will be presenting its circulation figures, Sree said that print would be presented separately from digital, with print editions continuing to be audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
He said that one of the advantages of the digital medium is the capability to offer advertisers more relevant data when it comes to consumer behaviours and consumption.
In addition to the standard iTunes data via Apple that Astro will provide to advertisers, the company will also be leveraging on the insights gleaned from three main analytics software, namely Omniture, Flurry and Localytics.
The tools will offer advertisers data on metrics such as average time spent per session, percentage of video watched, user flow through app, and return frequency.
“As Astro is taking a pioneering position in this, that’s one of the questions that we’ll have to find an answer to: How best to measure our reach across a diverse range of channels,” Sree said.
Asked whether he believes the digital offerings would cannibalise print, Sree said that he doesn’t believe print circulation will decline.
“Dedicated magazine readers would always want the physical feel of a print magazine ... and I am confident it would enlarge rather than cannibalise the reader base. It’s actually a complementary experience,” he added.
Meanwhile, Tan said that Astro's strategy is not to simply duplicate content across platforms, but that it would be focused on offering differentiated content, with the e-magazines being slightly different, with added elements, from the mobile and print additions.
“It’s about offering customers a choice in how they want to consume our content. We’re leaving it to the marketplace to decide on what suits them best,” he said.
When asked what plans Astro had in terms of future feature rollouts which would offer elements such as embedded links to e-commerce websites or promotional offers from brands, Tan the company plans "to explore all possibilities."
“What we’re seeking to do with our digital publications is a fairly revolutionary kind of move, even by global standards. When we were doing our market research, we were hard pressed to find a similar or comparative model for transition between print and digital for best practices learning. Truth be told, we really couldn’t find one,” he claimed.
Tan admitted that as a media organisation, Astro was going into “a new world” and like with most new things, has never really tried to define the space.
“We’re trying to brave new frontiers and we’ve put a lot of thought about how we should go about doing it. The upsides of this are really great and as we go on this new journey, we will be doing a lot of testing, monitoring and gathering feedback to gauge what people like.
“The digital platform really opens up a lot of possibilities and changes the whole experience,” he added.
As part of its launch promotion, five of the six e-magazines will be available for free download exclusively to all Astro customers from Feb 10 onwards, while the FHM e-magazine is available at US$0.99 per edition. Non-Astro customers can also download any of these magazines at US$0.99 per edition via Apple Newsstand.
New titles in the pipeline include publications covering sports, entertainment and education, as well as AstroView e-magazines. For more information, click here.

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