Media Prima content chief Ahmad Izham senses online advertising to take off
Clients no longer see digital as mere add-on but part of comprehensive strategy
FOR a media group with the top-ranked digital properties in Malaysia – 2.2 million unique visitors a month, as measured by comScore – Media Prima Bhd is not exactly raking in ad dollars.
For the quarter ended Sept 2013, its digital properties brought in RM23.9 million (US$7.26 million) in revenue versus RM23.7 million (US$7.20 million) in the same period in 2012.
Yet that has not prevented one senior executive within the media powerhouse – which owns some of the biggest TV networks, radio stations and newspapers in the country – from being positive. In fact, he says that he can feel that in the market, “buyers are reaching a tipping point to spend more online.”
That executive is none other than Ahmad Izham Omar (pic), chief executive officer of its Media Prima Television Networks subsidiary, as well as Primeworks Studios, the group’s content creation arm.
Ahmad Izham is all about content, having owned a recording studio and as previous CEO of the 8TV station, having been behind the creation of reality shows such as Malaysian Idol.
He is the current chairman of the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF), which looks into guidelines and procedures for content disseminated over electronic networks, in line with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code.
Everybody is (finally) getting it
On the topic of online advertising reaching a tipping point, one indicator is the clients themselves. “Most clients we talk to today don’t just want TV but a combination with digital,” claims Ahmad Izham.
This is sweet validation because, “we have been telling them that they can’t go into digital alone and, at the same time, they also can’t go into TV alone because they don’t get the complete spectrum then.”
The same argument is made for clients who want radio, he says.
And today, after three years of preaching that nothing is a silo, Ahmad Izham is pleased that “everybody is getting it.”
Yet, it does not mean that Media Prima is ready to capture most of the advertising revenue that is targeted for digital. Reflecting on Q3 digital revenues for the month ended Sept 2013, Ahmad Izham notes that advertising revenue for 2013 was flat.
And within this flat revenue, digital advertising spend was very low. “But you can’t belittle it and you know it is going to come and we want to be ready with the ‘toll’ when it does come,” he says.
For Ahmad Izham, another sign that advertising is increasingly going digital is the fact that some agencies used to have digital arms, “but now, no longer.”
Every grouping of account servicing executives has a digital person in it, rather than a separate digital arm. “They now realise that all the media campaigns work well together and it is lot more than just about banner ads.
“Also, you see more creative ads in digital while clients are looking for sites that have a following for their specified target market.”
Fragmented following, targeted audience
However, Ahmad Izham believes that this following is very fragmented online as only the traditional media platforms – TV, radio and print – have the reach to allow advertisers to hit their targets.
“It is because the digital platform is very fragmented and cannot deliver those large numbers; planning campaigns on digital also involves a lot of hard work,” he says.
Yet he believes that soon, TV could be live everywhere and on any device. “And Media Prima’s goal is to make sure our content is everywhere, including online where, for instance, Tonton has eight million unique visitors.”
Tonton is Media Prima’s portal that streams videos from its various TV channels.
The key, he feels, is not to be No 1 overall but to be a leader with your target audience.
Also, “we have learnt not to be so tied up to our infrastructure, and learn that what’s keeping it alive is the content,” Ahmad Izham says.
Good content spreads across various channels and will give advertisers their hope of reaching the target market they want in the channels they are asking for, he argues.
During a Media Prima event in November 2013, Ahmad Izham wore a ‘Welcome to Our Universe’ t-shirt and outlined how the entire Media Prima platform was one universe, with TV, radio, print, digital, social media and on-ground events able to combine to give advertisers what they wanted.
Aside from TV channels (TV3, ntv7, 8TV and TV9) and their respective official websites, social media platforms and on-ground events catering to all market segments, that ‘universe’ also includes other platforms such as pure-play digital platforms (Tonton and Gua.com.my); radio (Hot FM, Fly FM and One FM); print media (New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro) and outdoor advertising (Big Tree, Kurnia and Gotcha).
The Media Prima universe reaches a combined 24 million Malaysians every day, but that does not mean that the group has got a handle on how to leverage this massive reach yet.
As Ahmad Izham notes, each platform drives the other. “We just need to need to figure out how to link it up.”
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