Media should optimise digital platforms

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic credit: Azeem Abu Bakar FB

THE shift from print to digital media is ongoing but the speed at which companies optimise their digital platforms is the key to ensuring their relevance to the current readers.

“If you continue to rely on print, you might find it difficult to survive,” Free Malaysia Today (FMT) CEO and MD Azeem Abu Bakar (picture) said at the MIDF Conversations virtual event yesterday.

He added that on social media, digital media companies can increase their reach to various demographics and subsequently increase the viewership on their website.

“When we were posting snippets of stories on Instagram, there were about 100,000 viewers on our website.

“When we began to foray into TikTok, where most of the social media users are, our viewership shot up drastically, which shows that despite the difference in certain values of different generations of readers, they still care about what’s happening in the country,” he said.

Online media portals are also seeking to increase revenue through content creation and e-commerce.

Media Prima Bhd group MD Rafiq Razali said the group’s foray into e-commerce has helped generate revenue for the group.

“Now we have both content as well as e-commerce, as people are purchasing online more,” he said.

Azeem said FMT’s business model seeks advertisement revenue via a few streams.

“There are two types of ad revenue streams for us, one is via programming done by search engines, such as Google Adsense, which takes the viewer’s search info and advertises anything relevant on our site, which contributes a portion.

“The majority comes in crafting stories for clients that align with our values, not to clean a client’s image after what mistake may have been reported to the public,” he said.

Rafiq said this includes writing features which highlight the clients’ purpose and products.

“Writing for clients definitely contributes a lot to our revenue, but it is also about writing a story that aligns with our values as well. There has to be a balance between the news story and the client’s content,” he said.

In terms of content, lifestyle and politics are heavily read while political news is shared.

“Our readers want a very balanced approach to our journalism with a bit of everything. It’s important for most media platforms to pick up on this,” Azeem said.

He added that the media is responsible to inform its readers to help make informed decisions.

“We have to be open to debate about racial policies and accept everybody’s news and compromise on all these things, only then can we achieve racial stability,” he said.

Rafiq said the opportunity of utilising the local content as an export product is present but the storyline or content will have to appeal to the global audience more.

“We can create content for the global audience especially for online streaming services,” he said.

Azeem said the talent is present but needs to be harnessed.

“The storyline in Malaysian-made entertainment content must have more depth or multiple dimensions,” he said.

He added that when it comes to news, the stories are meant to penetrate the global market.

“Although exporting commodities is pretty common for us, we need to get our act together to put together content that appeals to the global audience, while also appealing to the newer generation of readers,” Azeem said.