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Hyperlocal: 3 tips from Singapore, New Zealand, and Indonesia on being everywhere, anytime

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World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Hyperlocal: 3 tips from Singapore, New Zealand, and Indonesia on being everywhere, anytime

The Internet removed geographical boundaries that used to define media territories, in ways not unlike how airwaves brought radio and television to remote parts of the world. Operating digitally therefore means reaching audiences on the ground, wherever they are.

Product experts of media platforms from Singapore, New Zealand, and Indonesia shared how they reach the “hyperlocal” on Thursday at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia 2018 conference in Hong Kong.

1. Hyperlocal is knowing news consumers like they’re your best friend 

The hyperlocal session began with an awkward silence from the audience, when they were faced with a question from Gaurav Sachdeva, chief product officer of the Singapore Press Holdings, on what would be a hyperlocal app they could think of. 

One of the earliest attempts, Sachdeva says, was when McDonalds and KFC started offering extensive vegetarian menus when they first entered the Indian market. The way he sees it, hyperlocal is about focusing on a specific area or community’s needs, and offering products and services that serve those needs. Apps like Airbnb and Uber Eats are hyperlocal, for example, where technology helps listening closely to market needs and offering tailored solutions. 

Ultimately, going hyperlocal means knowing customers and their context really well, and then being able to segment clients, including news consumers and advertisers, in order to offer the right tools and products.

2. Hyperlocal is being in every corner of a small market

If it is any indication of how small their national population is, New Zealanders find their homeland left out of official world maps more often than they’d like, says Sinead Boucher, CEO of Stuff is the most popular website in all of New Zealand, making it the flagship product of Fairfax Media NZ. The problem with a small population, Boucher says, is that subscription revenue is not a viable path and growth is ever more challenging when the company already holds the largest share in a narrow market.

But benefitting from a legacy of 160 years of print business, Stuff has the public’s trust, it also has the largest market share in New Zealand, Boucher says, allowing Stuff to go from being a publisher to a platform. 

The result is one hyperlocal spinoff product to another: A platform called Popshop, which connects small businesses (80 percent of businesses in New Zealand are considered small) directly to consumers; Neighbourly, a hyperlocal social media network that connected one-third of local households in three years (bigger than Instagram and LinkedIn in New Zealand), which also offers a trove of data that could be leveraged for other products. Other Stuff community endeavors include a campaign that bought back a beach for the public, and another that wiped out invasive wasps. Stuff has also ventured into Internet retail as an ISP and electricity as an energy provider. 

The secret: When you can’t gain breadth, gain depth. 

3. Hyperlocal is making a national news site out of 23 local papers

17,000 islands, over a thousand languages and ethnic groups -- this mind-boggling diversity speaks volumes about the challenges any Indonesian national publication would face. Dahlan Dahi, director of in Kompas Gramedia, shares a few lessons on how the Tribun group went from having 23 local newspapers across the country to running a national news site. 

The Blackberry was a game-changer, according to Dahi. Instead of providing computers to every reporter, the publication started to hand out Blackberries, which allowed reporters across the country to cover and deliver breaking news instantaneously. 

When the business was still a group of newspapers, only 10 percent of its audience came from Jakarta, says Dahi, but came about in 2010 and quickly brought the Jakarta audience to 30 percent, widening the publication’s national coverage as a result. 

To further boost female and young readership under 34 years of age, the group then launched and Although print revenue dropped quickly over the years, digital revenue grew, and eventually brought about 8 percent of general growth. 



Selina Cheng is an investigative reporter at HK01, a Chinese-language publication in Hong Kong. She previously reported for Quartz in New York. Selina's work has won honourable mention at the 2018 SOPA Award and a silver at the 2018 US Telly Awards.



Kimberly Lim's picture

Kimberly Lim


2018-11-08 17:55

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