Following his decision to retire as Star Media Group group managing director and chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai stated that the transformation plan needed to continue. Alongside moving from a print to digital-first organisation, key to this was succession planning, talent acquisition and reskilling of existing talent.
Roy Tan, Star Media Group’s Chief Operating Officer talks to MARKETING magazine about the transformation.
Business success rarely comes from resisting change. Star Media Group Bhd knows this well, having developed into a leading player in Malaysia’s media industry by nimbly adapting to shifting conditions, not just in business, but also in society and culture.
With its 50th anniversary just a few years away, the Group continues working hard to maintain its position, fully aware that its environment today is much unlike the one in which it started.
“Consumers today have short attention spans – they have 24 hours and too many distractions. Our job is to figure out what they (consumers) are looking for, and how we can meet their needs better,” says Star Media Group chief operating officer Roy Tan.
In sync with the increasingly digital media landscape, the Group began a transformation programme in December 2017. This focuses on three key objectives: putting consumers first, putting data at the heart of the business, and making the business economically sustainable.
According to Roy, the goal is to leverage on consumer-focused analytics to drive growth via creative innovations. One way is to increase engagement time with consumers by matching content with their preferences.
He points out that there are two broad categories of consumers. “The first are those who are attracted to flashy headlines and clickbait-y content,”
“The second are those who stay longer and are more interested in analytical pieces. They are the kind that we actually like. We’ve seen a 50% growth in engagement time in this category.”
A key move in powering Star Media Group’s transformation is the setting up of its product and marketing division.
This enables the management to make decisions based on data tracked by the programmatic team, thus helping the Group to effectively target its audience.
“A lot of things that we have done are structural,” adds Roy. “We’ve changed the structure of the organization, and we have set up new units. Apart from creating our product and marketing division, we’ve also invested in technology and analytics.
“Under the product and marketing division, we have a programmatic and data lab that tracks audience preferences in various sectors, be it entertainment, food, travel, telecommunications, property or automotive. We currently have over 40 different segments. Clients are having conversations with us to map their audiences on our platforms.”
Roy says the programmatic team is responsible for about 12% of the Group’s total digital revenue. “That is actually a phenomenal achievement for us, and we know this figure will grow significantly very quickly.”
Given today’s challenging business climate, Star Media Group believes it is uniquely placed to serve the needs of marketers and clients.
“We must make sure that every dollar performs,” continues Roy. “How do we answer for the client’s dollars spent with us? What are the returns for them from the perspective of sales or any other metric they are looking at?”
Another important element of what the Group offers is the capability of its growth marketing team, which has been built over the last 18 months
“They serve our needs internally and also those of our clients. For clients that don’t have the capability to do growth marketing for themselves, we can assist them. The conversation today is no longer about how much money is being saved, but about yields – what returns can be generated for their businesses.”
About a year ago, the Group’s primary brand, The Star, erected a paywall for its business offering, StarBiz Premium. It has been a valuable learning experience so far.
“It brought us tremendous value but not in the way that we expected,” shares Roy. “We learnt consumer behaviour and what people’s propensity to spend is, especially on services and subscriptions.”
He believes Malaysians, especially those from the younger, more digital-savvy generation, are skilled in evaluating quality content. This gives him confidence that The Star will continue to be the people’s choice as long as it stays relevant to its audience.
“Since the 14th general election, Malaysians are asking for more things. They want to know the story behind the story. Now, it’s not enough to have breaking news alone. The conversation has changed. This helps us because we can now spend more time being engaged with them.”
“Ultimately, that’s what we’re about as a company – a reflection of our consumers. We speak for them and we present what’s in their hearts and minds as a people.”